By Mike Brandyberry
In a spring full of question and concern around the Indians’ pitching staff, Jeanmar Gomez has emerged as the front runner in the battle for the fifth starter job by throwing consistent shutout baseball. Gomez pitched four shutout innings, allowing only one hit and outdueling Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw as the Tribe won a Cactus League contest 4-3.
Gomez, who entered camp probably chasing Kevin Slowey for the fifth starter job, was officially named the early leader by manager Manny Acta last week. Today was Gomez’s first start since the announcement and he handled it like an ace. Gomez allowed only a triple to Andre Ethier and was able to work out of the jam. Gomez has yet to allow a run in Spring Training action.
Offensively, Jose Lopez singled home a run in the first inning to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead. Lopez is fighting for a bench and utility spot with the Indians. If he were to make the club, starting against left-handed pitchers would be a role he would definitely have. In the sixth inning, Carlos Santana hit a towering home run to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano each followed with scoreless innings and Dan Wheeler worked out of a jam in the seventh to stay scoreless. Wheeler, who has a great chance to make the team, has struggled in the first half of camp. Chris Ray allowed an unearned run in the eighth with many minor leaguers behind him defensively.
Lonnie Chisenhall helped tack on some insurance when he laced a two-out base hit up the middle in the eighth inning off left hander Scott Elbert, giving the Tribe a 4-1 lead. Chisenhall is probably battling to save his roster spot in the next week to ten days. He has struggled at the plate so far in camp and is probably trailing Jack Hannahan in the third base competition.
Chris Seddon allowed four hits and two runs in the top of the ninth inning to let the Dodgers cut the score to 4-3. When he struck out the final hitter of the game, the Dodgers had runners on first and second base.
The other news of the day was that Michael Brantley played an inning and a half and left the game. According to Acta, Brantley left with mild, right hamstring tightness and claimed he is day-to-day.
Tomorrow is the Tribe’s only off day of the spring schedule. The Indians will resume play on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants at 4:05 ET.
Photo: Associated Press