Kazmir, Brantley Spark Tribe to Keep Pace in Race; Indians 4, Astros 1
Mike B. | On 21, Sep 2013
The fireworks started in the first inning on Nick Swisher fireworks night and didn’t end until after the Indians secured a 4-1 victory and kept pace in the wild card standings.
The Indians scored three runs in the first inning and Scott Kazmir pitched seven strong innings and struck out 10 to setback the Houston Astros for the third straight game. Cleveland will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon. Saturday’s victory kept the Indians in the last wild card spot, a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays and a half game ahead of the Texas Rangers.
Cleveland took the lead in the bottom of the first inning against Houston and starter Paul Clemens. Michael Bourn doubled to left center field to start the inning and advanced to third base when Swisher singled to right field. Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Bourn was able to trot home and make it 1-0.
Meanwhile, Kazmir was in complete control of the young, inexperienced Astros hitters. The hard throwing left-hander had at least one strike out in each of the first four innings. Only a leadoff single by Jonathan Villar in the first inning separated him from being perfect.
The Tribe tallied another run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Yan Gomes doubled to left field to start the inning and Lonnie Chisenhall singled to right field to bring him home. The quick strike gave the Indians a 4-0 lead after four innings of play.
Clemens (4-6) was done after four and two third innings for Houston. He allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out four. Lucas Harrell came on and slowed down the Tribe, allowing just two hits in the final three and one third innings.
Kazmir (9-9) earned the win for the Indians, pitching seven innings and allowing just four hits and a walk while shutting out the Astros. He struck out 10 hitters on 97 pitches. He becomes the third Indians pitcher this season to strike out over 150 batters (Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson). It’s the first time the Indians have had three pitchers strike out over 150 hitters since 2001.
Cody Allen pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out a par, before Joe Smith pitched the ninth inning. Smith did allow a run, a solo home run to center field off the bat of Chris Carter. It was his 28th home run of the year. Houston has only managed a run in each of the first three games.
Cleveland remains in the final wild card spot with the win. They are a half game ahead of the Rangers, who beat the Kansas City Royals Saturday evening. The Tribe is a half game behind the Rays, who beat the Baltimore Orioles.
Houston suffered their 104th defeat this season. Cleveland will try to add another to their loss column on Sunday afternoon. With seven games remaining, settling for a series win isn’t acceptable at this point. The Tribe has to continue to win and stay ahead of the Rangers and in control of their own fate. Corey Kluber (9-5, 3.62) will take the mound in search of a sweep Sunday. Houston will counter with left-hander Erik Bedard (4-11, 4.60).
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images