Ninth Inning Comeback Helps Tribe Avoid Sweep; Indians 5, Rangers 4
By Christian Petrila
The Indians rallied in the ninth to overcome sloppy errors and stun the Texas Rangers to avoid the sweep on Thursday night, winning 5-4.
After three and a half innings of silent bats,Texasfinally broke through. Zach McAllister got David Murphy to fly out to left. After that, though, Adrian Beltre – a thorn in the Indians’ side all year – singled right back up the middle. Nelson Cruz then blasted a double off the wall in right field and Michael Young drove inTexas’ third baseman with a single to right field. Then, to keep up with the Indians’ trend this last month and a half, what appeared to be an inning-ending double play turned into a Rangers run when Brent Lillibridge’s throw to first sailed about a foot over Matt LaPorta’s head at first and into the dugout. McAllister prevented further damage by striking out Geovany Soto to end the inning.
The Indians responded in the top of the sixth. Vinny Rottino led off with a single to left off of Derek Holland for his first hit as an Indian. LaPorta then socked his first home run of the year with an opposite field bomb to the biggest part of the ballpark. The celebration would be short lived, however, as Thomas Neal, Lou Marson and Jack Hannahan went 1-2-3 after LaPorta’s dinger.
McAllister would pitch well, going six innings on the night while allowing two runs (one earned) and scattering eight hits. He also struck out six and didn’t walk anyone.
His counterpart,Holland, went seven innings while allowing two earned runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
The Indians’ wheels came off in the eighth. It was a comedy of errors that had no one inClevelandlaughing. With Joe Smith pitching, Elvis Andrus was safe at first when Lillibridge committed another throwing error as he spiked a ball to first that short-hopped LaPorta. Andrus advanced to second when the throw landed in the seats. Murphy advanced Andrus to third with a sacrifice fly to center field. After intentionally walking Beltre, Nelson Cruz grounded to third. Hannahan botched the ball and Andrus was able to score the go-ahead run. Young followed up the error with a single to center that scored Beltre from second. That would do it for Smith, as he gave up two runs, but neither of them earned.
The Rangers would go on to load the bases against Scott Maine, but weren’t able to add any insurance as the southpaw got Soto to ground into a double play.
The ninth inning started out with a surprising bang, as Ezequiel Carrera launched his second career home run just over the wall in right field. Russ Canzler then singled off of Joe Nathan to keep the rally going. Then it got really fun for Indians fans as Jason Kipnis belted a go-ahead two-run home run into the seats in right. It didn’t end there, though, as Carlos Santana laced a double down the left field line. That ended the night for Nathan, as he hit the showers while getting showered with boos. However, Koji Uehara came in and retired Vinny Rottino on a sacrifice bunt, LaPorta on a three-pitch strikeout and Shin Soo Choo on a flyout to center. The Indians led going into the bottom of the ninth, 5-4.
The bottom of the ninth got hairy for Chris Perez and the Tribe. After getting the first two outs with relative ease, Andrus prolonged the game with a triple off the right field wall that Choo narrowly missed. However, Perez locked down and struck out Murphy to end it.
The win bumps the Indians record to 60-84, while the Rangers drop to 85-58. Scott Maine got the win – his first as an Indian – while Joe Nathan got saddled with the loss to drop to 2-4.
Photo: Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo