The Indians began the game swinging. �LF Kevin Melillo lined a single to right field on the second pitch of the game. �He moved to second base on a balk, and to third on�Jim Negrych’s ground out to first. �Steve Pearce beat the throw to first for an infield single, bringing in Melillo, and the Indians jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Buffalo came close to tying it up in the bottom of the inning. �With two outs, starter Mike Crotta (photo) gave up a double off the wall to 1B Mike Jacobs. �3B Mike Cervenak followed with a single through the hole and into left field. �Jacobs rounded third and headed for the plate as Kevin Melillo came up throwing in left field. �The throw to the plate was in time and on target, and C Luke Carlin dropped down to block the plate. �Jacobs came in hard, shoulder first, and sent Carlin sprawling onto his back — but with the ball still in his hand for the out, as he showed everyone, holding it aloft as he rolled over.
Carlin had hopped right up, and sat on the bench for the quick top of the 2nd inning, but when he came back out to warm up Mike Crotta before the bottom of the inning began, it was clear that he was having trouble. �He was not moving like he usually does, and his throw to second base at the end of the warm-ups was anemic. �Then Carlin just limped off the field, down into the dugout, and into the clubhouse. �(No further word at this time about his condition.) �Erik Kratz came into the game to take over for Carlin behind the plate.
The Tribe held onto that 1-0 lead for a few more innings, with a little luck on Crotta’s part. �He gave up a one-out double to LF Lucas Duda followed by a single to former Pirate farmhand C JR House in the 2nd inning. �Crotta got out of the jam when 2B Russ Adams grounded to short, where Argenis Diaz scooped up the ball, stepped on second base, and threw to first to get Adams out in the double play. �Tempers flared momentarily again, as House slid into second base hard enough to upend Diaz. �Diaz still got his throw off without problems, but the usually quiet Venezuelan had a few words at House as he walked off the field.
House, who went 4-for-4 in the game, doubled to open the 5th inning. �LF Melillo double-clutched when he went to pick the ball out of his glove, and House saw that as he was reaching second base, so he decided to keep on going to third. �But he didn’t count on Melillo’s accurate arm — House was easily tagged out at third base. �That was fortunate for the Indians, because after another out, Crotta gave up three consecutive singles, driving in one run — but only one run, and not more as might have happened if House had been safe at third.
That tied up the score at 1-1, but not for long, as the Indians scored again in the top of the 6th. �Jim Negrych led off the 6th with a single lined up the middle. �Steve Pearce grounded to the right side of the infield, where 3B Cervenak charged in to make the play — it should have been a double play. �But Cervenak dropped the ball, picked it up, and by then only had a play at first. �His throw was low, and it skittered away, putting Pearce on first and Negrych on third. �Negrych scored on 3B Brian Myrow’s single into short center field. �Brandon Moss’ single slipped into right field and brought in Pearce, to give the Indians a 3-1 lead. �A walk to Argenis Diaz loaded the bases, but two strikeouts ended the inning without any further scoring.
Starter Mike Crotta was finished after 5 innings. �He had allowed one run on 8 hits, no walk, with one strikeout. �He had thrown just 61 pitches (44 strikes). �He was removed in favor of pinch-hitter Jonathan Van Every (who struck out) in the 6th. �Anthony Claggett came on to pitch the bottom of the 6th, and retired the side in order. �He got into trouble in the 7th, when JR House led off with another hit, this one a single. �House scored on Russ Adams’ double, and a wild pitch moved Adams to third base. �After one out, a single by Justin Turner scored Adams, tying the game at 3-3. �Claggett was relieved by Corey Hamman, and was charged with a Blown Save.
Hamman started out by committing a balk, but settled right in to finish the inning with a strikeout. �He also struck out one batter in the 8th, when he retired the Bison in order. �Brian Bass took over on the mound for the 9th inning, and he maintained the tie for 3 innings. �JR House led off yet another inning with a hit — a single to start the 9th, but was eliminated with a double play. �A throwing error by Argenis Diaz and a walk put two runners on base with one out in the 10th. �Mike Cervenak grounded to third, where Doug Bernier (who had come in during a double switch) threw to second for the force out. �Argenis Diaz was covering second and he fired to first to complete the double play, but his throw pulled Jeff Clement off the first base bag. �Clement tried to make up for it with a swipe tag, but the tag missed Cervenak, who was safe at first. �No matter — Bass calmly got another ground out to end the inning, then induced three more ground outs to retire the side in the 11th.
After scoring in the 6th, the Indians put runners on base in three more innings, but could not bring them around to score. �Erik Kratz led off the 7th with a grounder up the middle, and advanced to second base on Jim Negrych’s sacrifice bunt. �Steve Pearce was intentionally walked, to put two runners on base, but both were left on with a strikeout and a fly out. �Brandon Moss, who had 3 hits in the game, singled in the 8th, but was erased in a double play off the bat of Argenis Diaz. �Pearce walked and stole second in the 10th, and was also left stranded.
That took the 3-3- tie to top of the 12th, and the Indians’ 4-run inning.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: �Jeff Clement’s 2-RBI double in the top of the 12, driving in the winning run plus one more for insurance.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: �Two outfield assists by Kevin Melillo in left field. �He threw out Mike Jacobs at the plate in the 1st inning, with the help of Luke Carlin, who held onto the ball despite being knocked on his behind. �In the 5th Melillo threw out JR House at third base, stifling a Buffalo rally, with the help of 3B Brian Myrow.
When Erik Kratz entered the game, there was concern that it might bring�out some residual bad feelings from last night’s game. �The Bison felt that Kratz had tried to elbow Buffalo catcher Josh Thole when sliding into the plate in the 10th inning of that game. �Kratz and Thole had exchanged heated words at the time, but were separated by the umpires. �The Indians could not have afforded to have Kratz get ejected at that point, because Luke Carlin had already been ejected earlier in the game after arguing with the umpires. �Kratz and Thole made it through the rest of that game without incident, but after the game, Buffalo manager Kent Oberkfell did not have anything nice to say about Kratz, and in fact referred to Kratz as “a dirty player” — as quoted by Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. Today, Oberkfell had mentioned that it was a good thing that Kratz was not going to be playing today… and now, here was Kratz having to come into the game. �To both teams’ credit, no further fuss was made today, at least not in any way that was visible, and today’s game was the last between the two teams for the rest of the season. �Kratz did get in the last word in a sense — he had two hits in the game, and scored the go-ahead run after a walk in the 12th.
The Indians return to Indianapolis to begin an 8-game home stand on Monday. �They will play 4 games against the Durham Bulls, then 4 games against the Toledo Mud Hens.
(photos by Nancy)