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Melillo’s Walk Off Homer Gives Indians Sweep



The Indians were the first onto the scoreboard, with 2 runs in the bottom of the 4th. �With one out, 2B Jim Negrych (photo, with Brian Myrow) grounded a ball up the middle, which might have even tipped off the glove of Toledo starter Ryan Ketchner as it zipped by. �Negrych stole second base, sliding in with a head-first slide well ahead of the throw from former Indy Indian C Robinzon Diaz. �DH Jeff Clement drove a long ball to the warning track in the right-center field alley, to drive in Negrych. �It was Clement’s 16th RBI in his 16 games since joining the Indians. �RF Brandon Moss followed with a triple down the right field line, which rattled around in the corner so that RF Wilkin Ramirez had to go chasing after it. �Moss slid in to third, and Clement scored, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

They made it 4-0 in the next inning, with some help from the Mud Hens. � Doug Bernier led off with a grounder right back at the mound. �The ball bounced off Ketchner’s glove and ricocheted toward 2B Will Rhymes, who was charging in. �Rhymes made the catch, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, and he had no play at first, and Bernier was safe.

IMG_3830SS Argenis Diaz (photo) grounded to short, which should have been a double play. �But the ball skittered right through Toledo SS Brent Dlugach’s legs, and the Indians had runners on first and second on the error. �Kevin Melillo dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. �CF Alex Presley came close to bringing in a run with a low line drive, but Will Rhymes made a nice catch of the liner less than a foot off the ground. �Jim Negrych got the job done, though, with a line drive into right field, scoring both Bernier and Diaz, both runs unearned. �Negrych stole second base, drawing a poor throw from Robinzon Diaz, for his 5th steal with the Indians, but he was left stranded on second at the end of the inning.

Brian Burres did give up one run to the Mud Hens in the top of the 5th. �He walked the first batter of the inning (never a good idea), CF Casper Wells, and a grounder deep to third moved Wells to second base. �A wild pitch let Wells advance to third base. �That turned out to be critical, because Robinzon Diaz lifted a fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly to put Toledo on the scoreboard. �Burres finished his night with 5 innings of work and 91 pitches (54 strikes), with one run on 3 hits and 3 walks, plus 5 strikeouts.


The two teams went into the top of the 7th with the Indians still ahead, 4-1. �Anthony Claggett had retired the Mud Hens in order in the 6th, but he began the 7th by giving up a single into left field to Wilkin Ramirez. �Claggett struck out Casper Wells, but DH Max Leon grounded through the right side of the infield, moving Ramirez to second base. �Claggett walked Robinzon Diaz, and that was the end of his outing. �He left with the bases loaded and one out, responsible for all of those base runners.

Danny Moskos (photo) came on in relief of Claggett. �It was not his best night, though. �Will Rhymes took Moskos’ first pitch into right field for an RBI single as Ramirez scored. �Moskos walked Brent Dlugach on 4 pitches, forcing in Leon with the second run of the inning. �He struck out Jeff Frazier for the second out of the inning, as Frazier was fooled into chasing an outside pitch. �Then Moskos walked Ryan Strieby, forcing in Robinzon Diaz, to tie the score. �All three of those runs were charged to Claggett, but Moskos was charged with a Blown Save.

A gift, or rather two gifts, from the Mud Hens gave the Indians the lead right back again in the bottom of the frame. �Doug Bernier grounded to short, but SS Brent Dlugach threw the ball wide to first base, and it skipped past 1B Ryan Strieby, with Bernier safe at first. �A sacrifice bunt by Argenis Diaz moved Bernier to second base. �Kevin Melillo struck out on three straight pitches — but the third pitch was wild and it got away from Robinzon Diaz. �Bernier ran to third, and Melillo raced for first base. �Robinzon got to the ball, but his throw to first base was wide, and Melillo was safe, while Bernier took the opportunity to race home and score the go-ahead run. �Alex Presley grounded wide of first base, and Strieby went to his right to make the play. �Strieby threw to second base, forcing out Melillo, but SS Dlugach’s throw back to first base, which pitcher Brendan Wise was scrambling to get covered, was not in time to beat the speedy Presley. �Presley was left on base, though, when Jim Negrych grounded out. �Indians up, 5-4.

Each team put a runner on base in the 8th, but neither one scored. �Jean Machi came on to pitch the top of the 9th for the Indians, and he fell victim to a rare play. �Will Rhymes took a 3-2 pitch high down the left field line, heading right for the foul pole. �At the last second, it curved fair and hit the top of the wall not far inside the line. �That part of the left field wall is angled, so when the ball hit, it caromed towards center field. �LF Kevin Melillo made a leaping attempt to catch the ball before it could hit the wall, but missed. �When the ball headed towards center field, Melillo had to give chase, and there was no one else nearby to help. �Melillo got to the ball as Rhymes was heading for third base, and then Melillo picked up the ball, then dropped it again. �That was all the opportunity Rhymes needed, and he rounded third and headed for the plate, sliding in well ahead of Melillo’s throw in from left field. �It was initially thought to be an inside-the-park home run, but was later ruled a triple and a fielding error on Melillo. �Either way, the game was tied again.

Machi got a ground out, then had Jeff Frazier reach base when his grounder to third bounced up and over Doug Bernier’s shoulder. �Bernier’s teammates picked him up, though, by turning a neat 6-4-3 (Diaz to Negrych to Pearce) double play to end the inning.

The Mud Hens brought on reliever Jay Sborz for the bottom of the 9th. �Sborz got Doug Bernier to ground to short on the first pitch he threw. �Argenis Diaz fouled off two pitches, then struck out swinging. �That brought up Melillo. �With a 2-2 count, Melillo made up for his earlier error, with the game-winning walk-off home run. �He was mobbed at the plate when he arrived there, but carefully stepped on the plate rather than making a running jump — no injuries needed. �After the game, and after his teammates pounded on him and tore off his jersey, Melillo was all smiles. �”I had a hat trick tonight with three strikeouts before that at-bat, but I wasn’t thinking about it. �I got the big hit when it mattered, and that’s all that counts… It’s the best feeling in the world…when you come up with the big hit and you see all of your buddies standing at home plate ready to greet you.”

Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: �Kevin Melillo, with a majestic towering home run in the bottom of the 9th for the winning run.

Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: �In the 3rd inning, Brent Dlugach grounded to deep short on a 2-2 pitch. �SS Argenis Diaz went back and to his right, and made the play, but as he went to plant his feet for the throw, his foot slipped. �Diaz got the throw off, but he was off-balance. �The throw came in to first to the outfield side of the bag. �1B Steve Pearce was all but sprawled in the dirt, fully extended but with his foot still on the bag, but he caught the throw, just in time to beat Dlugach to the bag.


OF Brandon Jones was removed from the Indians’ roster at the end of last week and assigned to the Altoona Curve, to make room for Aki Iwamura. But for the next few days, Jones didn’t actually go anywhere — he was still in Indianapolis, and visible in the Indians’ dugout. �Today he really did go to Altoona, though.

Steve Pearce, who is officially here in Indy on a rehab assignment, has 7 more days available to be “rehabbing”. �The injury to Pearce’s ankle is clearly well in the past. �Pearce is hitting .297 over his last 10 games with the Indians. �The Pirates have the rest of the week to figure out what to do with him — either take him off the Disabled List and put him back onto the Pirates’ active roster, or else take him off the DL and option him back to Indianapolis.

The Pirates have signed three more draft picks: RHP Casey Sadler (24th round), RHP Jason Townsend (31st), and RHP James Archibald (36th). �All three will likely be assigned to State College. �The list of the 2010 draftees, and who has signed, can be found HERE.

Go Tribe!

(photos by Nancy)

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