Tribe Survives Series Opener, Pestano Slams Door; Indians 3, Rays 2
By Mike Brandyberry
Zach McAllister worked in and out of trouble better than his counterpart Alex Cobb and the Indians were able to hang on and win a game full of jams and untimely hitting, 3-2. Each team struggled to get a hit to score runs in the game.
The win, combined with the Chicago White Sox loss, moves the Indians back to only three games out of first place. The Detroit Tigers did win, remaining in second place, only two and one-half games in back of the top spot.
The Tribe struck almost immediately when Shin-Soo Choo drove a ball to deep centerfield that was originally ruled a home run. However, video replay overturned the play and placed Choo on second base. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to the right side to move Choo to third and after Jason Kipnis was unable to come through with a hit, Choo scored on a passed ball with cleanup hitter Michael Brantley at the plate. The Indians had a 1-0 lead before the Rays came to the plate.
Cleveland would tack on in the top of the third when Johnny Damon would lead off the inning with a double down the right field line, followed by another double from Choo, this time off the left field wall to make the score, 2-0.
After Cabrera struck out swinging, Choo stole third but would score easily when Kipnis hit a double off the centerfield wall, making it 3-0 Indians. Brantley would walk to set the table again, but Jose Lopez would line out to third and Kipnis would be doubled up to end the inning.
The Tribe had a chance to possibly put the game away in the top of the fourth when they loaded the bases with no one out. However, Cobb was able to strike out Damon—after going to 3-0 on him—before being removed for J.P. Howell. He promptly jammed Choo to pop out on the infield and strike out Cabrera to end the inning.
The Rays would take advantage and strike right back in the bottom half of the inning. B.J. Upton and Luke Scott each singled to start the inning and put runners on the corners. Jeff Keppinger lined a ball straight back up the middle and off McAllister’s forearm. When the ball stopped in foul territory, Upton had scored and the Rays had runners on first and second with no one out.
McAllister would be able to stay in the game and immediately induce Desmond Jennings to ground into a double play. With the rally slowed, Jose Molina grounded out to shortstop to end the inning with the Rays only cutting the score to 3-1.
Meanwhile McAllister danced in and out of trouble. He only allowed three hits over six innings, but walked four, creating much of his problems. McAllister survived through jams and was relieved after 99 pitches. While not allowing a hit through three innings, McAllister struggled to locate his fastball at times.
After six innings, Esmil Rogers replaced McAllister but allowed a titanic home run on his first pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning to Jennings to cut the Tribe lead to 3-2. After retiring two outs, Tony Sipp was brought in to face Carlos Pena, but the Rays countered with pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez. Sipp walked Rodriguez, forcing Indians manager Manny Acta to bring in Vinnie Pestano to strike out Ben Zobrist and end the seventh inning with the Tribe clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Pestano would return to work the eighth inning—logging only his third time all year of working more than one inning—and while he would get the job done, it would be an eventful three outs. With one out Scott singled and stole second base to get into scoring position before Keppinger flew out to shallow centerfield. Pestano made his pitch, getting Jennings to ground weakly, but it was too weak and he beat it out for an infield single to put runners on the corners. Pestano then struck out pinch hitter Brooks Conrad looking to preserve the Tribe lead.
Chris Perez worked and uneventful, three-up, three-down inning to slam the door in the ninth inning and atone for his blown save against the Rays prior to the All-Star break.
The Tribe takes the first game of the four game series and will look to take control of the series when Josh Tomlin (5-5, 5.45 ERA) takes the mound tomorrow evening against the Rays’ Matt Moore (5-6, 4.42 ERA). Game time from Tropicana Field in Tampa is slated for 7:10 pm Tuesday evening.
Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images