LF John Bowker (photo), who was added to the line-up when Presley was removed, increased the Tribe’s lead to 3-0 with a solo home run over the right field wall to lead off the bottom of the 3rd inning. Hague followed the homer with a single to deep behind second base, reaching safely when the throw to first base was wide off the bag. 3B Josh Harrison grounded to his counterpart 3B Hector Luna, who threw to second for the force out on Hague, but Harrison beat out the relay to first. Harrison stole second moments later, on an unusual play — he took off from first base, and when Pawtucket C Luis Exposito fired to second base, the pitcher Doubront reached up and cut off the throw. Harrison had enough of a jump so that he would have easily beat the throw had it gone through, but it was odd that Doubront had cut it off. It didn’t matter either way, as Doubront got two more outs to end the inning.
The Tribe kept going in the 4th, aided by another throwing error. Watts led off with a single into right field. Hernandez was plunked on the hip by a pitch to put two runners on. Wimberly dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving Watts to third and Hernandez to second. Friday bounced to third, and the PawSox had a repeat of their 2nd-inning woes. Luna fielded the ball cleanly, but he airmailed the throw to first base, and the ball ended up in the stands. Friday was awarded second base, and both Watts and Hernandez scored. Friday stole second base on the first pitch to Bowker, and he scored when Bowker slipped a grounder through the right side of the infield for an RBI single. Luna made clean throws on the next to grounders that came his way, ending the inning, but the Indians owned a 6-0 lead.
Sean Gallagher (photo) made the start for the Indians, and the plan was to limit his pitch count, with the thought that he might be called upon to pitch again in a few days, depending on what the Pirates do with pitcher call-ups. Gallagher faced only one batter over the minimum in the first 3 innings. He walked RF Yamaico Navarro in the top of the 1st, struck out two batters, then got Luna to bounce into a force out at second base. DH Ryan Lavarnway singled on a liner into right field to lead off the top of the 2nd, but he was erased in a reverse double play — LF Nate Spears grounded to Hague, who fielded the ball just two steps from the first base bag. Hague stepped on first, then fired to second, where Friday tagged out Lavarnway. A strikeout ended that inning. Gallagher retired the PawSox in order in the 3rd. He also retired the first two batters of the 4th, then walked Luna and Lavarnway.
That put Gallagher at 56 pitches (28 strikes), with one hit over 3.2 scoreless innings. He walked 3 batters and struck out 3. Recently acquired Steven Jackson came on to make his second appearance with the Indians this season. Jackson ended the 4th inning with a fly out. He gave up back-to-back one-out singles in the 5th, but ended the inning with a 6-4-3 (Friday to Harrison to Hague) double play.
Jackson (photo) got into some trouble in the 6th inning. Navarro led off with a single into right field, and Jackson walked Anderson on 4 pitches. Luna popped up for an infield fly rule out, then Lavarnway lined a single into center field, driving in Navarro from second base. A fly out and a ground out ended the inning, but the PawSox were on the scoreboard, 6-1.
Rehabbing Mike Crotta pitched the 7th inning and reliever Justin Thomas pitched the 8th, and both pitchers struggled. With one out in the 7th, Crotta (photo below) gave up an infield single to SS Jose Iglesias and a line drive single into center field to CF Che-Hsuan Lin. Both runners were off and going with the full count pitch to Navarro, so SS Friday had only one play on Navarro’s grounder — the out at first, letting both runners move into scoring position. Anderson’s liner into center field came to Hernandez on a short hop, but because Hernandez had hesitated at the last second, he missed the hop and then he fell to the ground. When he bounced up, he needed a moment to find the ball, which had not bounced far from him. Those few seconds gave both runners time to score, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 6-3. Crotta also gave up a single to Luna, but a grounder to third by Lavarnway ended the inning. The hopper went right to Harrison, who thought about going to third base for the force out and even took a couple of steps toward third before thinking better of it and throwing to second for the force out.
The Tribe got one run back in the bottom of the 7th. With one out, Hague picked up his third hit of the game, a double off the top of the left field wall, not far from being a home run. Harrison grounded deep to short for an infield single. Rodriguez lifted a fly ball into the deep left field alley. LF Spears was on the chase and might have made the catch, but CF Lin called him off — then could not make the catch. That was a double for Rodriguez, scoring Hague from second base. Durham tapped back to the mound, where reliever Mike Bowden snatched up the ball and chased after Harrison, who had come about half way down the third base line. It became apparent to Harrison that he was going to be out — Rodriguez had already raced from second to third and was occupying that bag — so he just needed to stall long enough for Durham to get to first and then on to second base. Harrison jumped around and danced back and forth and ducked, with Bowden chasing him, and he accomplished his mission — by the time Bowden made the tag, Durham was on second base. It turned out to be moot (though amusing). Bowden hit Watts with a pitch to load the bases, but Hernandez struck out looking to end the inning with the bases full. Indians up, 7-3.
Bowden gave up one more hit, to Wimberly, in the bottom of the 8th. Wimberly stole second base, but got no further, as the next three batters went down in order.
(photo: Alex Presley and Brian Burres in the dugout)
Thomas took the mound to begin the 8th. Spears led off with a liner to second base. Harrison made a leap, but the ball smacked into his glove then fell. Harrison almost caught it before it hit the ground, but couldn’t come up with it, and by the time he picked up the ball from the ground and threw to first, Spears had already crossed the bag. Thomas got two outs, then Iglesias doubled along the left field line, moving Spears to third. Lin grounded to third, and like in the previous inning, Harrison allowed himself to be distracted by the runner moving from second to third base. He took a few steps toward Iglesias, who dodged and eventually got to third base. Harrison threw to first, but was way too late to get the out on Lin. Instead of being out of the inning, there were runners on first and third, and Spears had scored. A wild pi
tch by Thomas got away from Watts, and the PawSox had come closer, 7-5.
Thomas ended the 8th inning with a fly out. Then the “other” Justin Thomas came out to pitch the top of the 9th. Two strikeouts and a ground out to short took care of the PawSox’ last chance, and the Indians had the victory. Jackson was credited with the win, which was his first win with any of the four teams he’s been with this season (Chattanooga — AA Dodgers, Albuquerque — AAA Dodgers, Louisville, and Indianapolis).
(photo: infielders confer — Harrison, Friday (behind Harrison), Hague, and Rodriguez)
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: #1 — Three hits by Matt Hague, which raised his average to .317. His double in the 7th sparked the rally that gave the Indians their final run for a little more insurance. #2 — John Bowker’s booming home run in the 3rd inning. Bowker thought he had the day off, and then found out that he was in the line-up just 10 minutes before game time, when Presley was pulled.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: #1 — In the top of the 4th, Yamaico Navarro lifted a long high fly ball to straight-away center field. Gorkys Hernandez was playing back, and he turned and ran for the wall. He made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track, two steps from the wall, then had to use the wall to stop his momentum. #2 — In the top of the 8th, with one out and the runner Spears on first, Luis Exposito lined toward left field. It looked like he had a single that would move Spears from first to third. But Josh Harrison made a dive to his left, and made the mid-air catch, robbing Exposito of a hit, and probably keeping at least one run from scoring.
Sean Gallagher…………. Kris Watts at the plate
Watts on second base ……….. Wimberly on third
No further word at this time on the injuries of either Wyatt Toregas or Jose Tabata…
If Tabata is placed on the DL, that would mean that Josh Harrison would not have to wait 10 days before being recalled.
Expect a flurry of roster moves this week.