Burres gave up a single and a walk in the 5th and retired the side in the 6th, and didn’t have any serious trouble until the 7th inning. By then, his pitch count was getting high, too. With one out, Burres hit 3B Shawn Bowman (or maybe just Bowman’s jersey) with a pitch. C JC Boscan grounded to second, where Friday began what should have been a double play. Friday made a nice toss to SS Chase d’Arnaud, who made a solid turn and throw to 1B John Bowker. But the play was close at first, and Boscan was ruled safe. Burres worked a full count on pinch-hitter Dan Nelson, but walked him, then did the same on Constanza, and that brought manager Dean Treanor out of the dugout. Burres had thrown 107 pitches, 63 for strikes), and left the game with the bases loaded and two outs.
Michael Dubee (photo), who just arrived from Altoona this afternoon, came on in relief of Burres. Dubee ended the inning with a fly out, as RF Miles Durham made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ batters were not having much more luck against Gwinnett starter Yohan Flande, who faced only two batters over the minimum in his 6 innings of work. In the top of the 1st, Brian Friday walked with one out. LF Alex Presley grounded to second, for what could have been a double play — if it hadn’t been for Friday successfully disrupting SS Lugo with his slide into second base. Lugo could not get off a throw to first, and Presley was safe on the fielder’s choice. A strikeout by Bowker ended that inning, with Presley still on first.
Hague (left in photo, with d’Arnaud) led off the 2nd inning with an infield single, when he bounced a ball off the left side of the mound. The ball trickled a short distance on the grass behind the mound, but it was far enough away from Flande that it took precious seconds for him to get to it. By then, Hague was already crossing the bag at first, and Flande nearly threw the ball past his 1B Gomez. But Hague was erased when Fryer bounced into a 5-4-3 double play.
The Braves halted another Indians’ rally in the 4th with another double play. With one out, Presley walked on four pitches. Bowker looped a short liner into left field, and at first, it looked like the ball was going to fall in, in front of LF Ramirez, so Presley started heading for second base. Then Ramirez put on a burst of speed, and everyone believed he was going to get to the ball after all. Presley turned around to race back to first — only to halt when he suddenly heard everyone scream. Ramirez had missed the catch, and then overran the ball. Presley had to reverse again and sprint for second base, as Ramirez tracked down the ball and threw it in to second. Presley made it to second just ahead of the throw, and Bowker was safe at first, extending his hitting streak to 7 games. But, Flande got Hague to bounce into a double play, removing Bowker, to end the inning.
(Photo: Brian Friday and John Bowker)
The Indians had lead-off hits in two more innings. Presley lined into left field to open the 7th, and he was clearly thinking “double” as he left the batters’ box. The throw in from Ramirez was off-target, and Presley was easily in with the double, for the Indians’ only extra-base hit of the night. Fryer led off the 8th with a hit that bounced over the pitcher and into center field for a single Both Presley and Fryer were left stranded, though, as reliever Cory Gearrin retired the next three batters in each inning.
Dubee came back out to pitch the top of the 8th for the Tribe. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then gave up a walk, and got a ground out to end the frame, keeping the game scoreless. Cesar Valdez pitched the top of the 9th. That inning began with a grounder by Bowman to third, but Bowman just barely beat out the throw from Hague to Bowker at first. Valdez tried to pick Bowman off first base, but his throw was wide and Bowman advanced to second base on the error. But, as Bowman reached second, he seemed to be moving as if his leg or hip was injured. He did not call for the trainer, though, just remained at second base. The next batter, Boscan, dropped down a bunt. Fryer leapt out from behind the plate, snatched up the ball, and fired to Hague at third — who was surprised to see Bowman still quite far away from third, and not moving very quickly at all. Hague easily tagged Bowman out, and Bowman limped back to his dugout. Pinch-hitter Wilkin Castillo grounded to second, where Friday made the scoop, whirled, and threw a perfect toss to d’Arnaud covering, to force out Boscan. D’Arnaud threw on to first, but for the second time in the inning, the batter was ruled safe at first on a very close play. It turned out to not matter, though, as Valdez got Constanza to ground right to Hague at first to end the inning.
The Indians went into the bottom of the 9th with the game still scoreless, with each team having only 4 hits, and with the managers probably wondering who they were going to be able to have pitch in relief. The Braves were especially concerned, since they had used almost all of their relievers in a 14-inning game against Toledo yesterday. Friday led off the bottom of the 9th with a grounder that went off reliever Anthony Varvaro’s glove and caromed over to third base, where Castillo (who had remained in the game after pinch-hitting) made a quick scoop and throw to first for the first out. Then Presley lined a single into center field for his second hit of the game. Bowker followed with a grounder through the right side of the infield, and the speedy Presley advanced to third base. Finally, Matt Hague became the hero of the night with another grounder past the second baseman and into right field, allowing Presley to score from third, for the walk-off win. Hague (photo) was mobbed by his teammates, and also given the obligatory shaving-cream-in-the-face during the post-game interview.
The win gives the Indians a 32-32 record, putting them at the .500 mark for the first time this season.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Matt Hague’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th — perfect clutch hitting to bring in Alex Presley from third base and give the Indians the win.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 1st, Gorkys Hernandez made the running catch of Mauro Gomez’s sinking line drive, which kept the Braves from scoring. Hernandez also made a long run into the left-center field gap to make a catch of Ed Lucas’ fly ball in the 4th.
Michael Dubee was promoted from Altoona today. Dubee pitched in one game for the Indians in 2010 — on the road in Pawtucket. A roster spot on the Indians became open today when Shelby Ford was placed on the DL with an elbow injury. Ford was coaching first base for a couple of innings tonight, and he had his right elbow bandaged.
(Photos by Nancy)