The third inning also began with a single (LF Michael Brantley) and a walk (Rodriguez). �A ground out by 3B Luis Valbuena moved the runners to second and third bases, and at that point, Mike Crotta (photo) had a problem with his lower left leg or ankle after a pitch. �It wasn’t clear exactly what had caused the problem, but he might have caught his spikes and twisted his ankle on a pitch. �Crotta was visibly flexing his ankle, as if to try to work it out, and he took a few practice pitches with coaches and training staff watching. �Whatever it was, it was still a problem, and Crotta left the game.
Reliever Anthony Claggett came on for Crotta, and he hit the first batter he faced, DH Jared Goedert, with a pitch to load the bases. �Jordan Brown lifted a sacrifice fly, scoring Brantley from third base, and the Clippers had cut the Indians’ lead in half, 2-1.
Then came the 4th inning, and everything fell apart. 2B Cord Phelps began the inning with a double off the wall, over the reach of a leaping LF Kevin Melillo. �Lou Marson reached base next when he grounded to third but 3B Steve Pearce’s throw across the diamond pulled 1B Jeff Clement off the bag. �Phelps held at second base with the play in front of him. �A fly ball by Constanza looked like it might hold up long enough for Alex Presley to catch it, so again Phelps had to wait. �When the ball hit the ground, Presley was able to scoop it up quickly and just as quickly fired the ball in to the infield, not to second base for the easy play, but over to third base, where he was able to make the force play on the lead runner Phelps.
It didn’t get better after that, though. �Brantley singled, bringing in Marson from second base with the tying run. �Rodriguez popped up to short left field, looking like it was going to fall into foul territory, but at the last second the wind blew it back into fair territory. �SS Argenis Diaz touched the ball in fair territory, then bobbled and kicked it, but was still able to get it back to the infield in time to keep the Clippers from thinking that they could take any extra bases. �With the bases loaded, Claggett walked Jared Goedert to force in the go-ahead run. �Jordan Brown followed with a double off the top of the center field wall, clearing the bases to add 3 runs, and put the Clippers ahead by a convincing 6-2.
The Indians’ batters had threatened in the 2nd inning. �Argenis Diaz lined a single into center field, and both Kevin Melillo and 2B Aki Iwamura worked walks to load the bases with one out. �But a strikeout by Alex Presley and a ground out by Steve Pearce ended the threat without the Indians being able to take advantage of the bases-loaded situation. �The bats were quiet over the next two innings, as the only base runner the Indians had was Melillo, who walked in the 4th.
In the 5th inning, right after the Clippers had taken the lead, both teams had umpire troubles, just like last night. �After Steve Pearce had singled with one out, �plate umpire Chris Ward did not like what Clippers’ C Lou Marson had to say or that Marson turned around to look at Ward to say it. �Marson was ejected from behind the �plate. �Chris Gimenez came out of the bullpen, where he was warming up relievers, to get into the game behind the plate for Columbus. �Steve Pearce took that opportunity to steal second base as Jeff Clement struck out. �Then DH Brian Myrow singled on a line drive into center field. �Pearce raced around from second base and headed toward the plate. �The replay showed that Pearce’s foot and lower leg slid across the plate before Gimenez applied the tag, but umpire Ward called Pearce out to end the inning. �Pearce, still lying on his back in the dirt, took off his helmet and threw it down as he probably said some words that Ward did not like, and Pearce was ejected while still lying on the ground.
That meant some switching around of players for the Indians: �Kevin Melillo moved from left field to third base, Jonathan Van Every moved from right field to left field, and Brandon Moss came in to play right field. �Brian Bass also came into the game to relieve Claggett. �Bass made a throwing error on a tapper back to the mound by Cord Phelps, but then got the next three batters to ground out. �Bass retired the side in order in the 6th.
Alex Presley got in one more lick against the Clippers in the top of the 7th, when he rocketed another home run over the right field wall. �The Clippers got the run back in the bottom of the frame. �Jordan Brown led off with a line drive into right field. �He rounded second and headed for third, but Brandon Moss and Aki Iwamura had other ideas. �The throw in from right field, relayed by Iwamura, got to third base in time for Kevin Melillo to tag out Brown. �Or did it? �The Clippers argued again, though not enough to get someone else ejected, and the replay was not as clear — Brown might have touched the bag before Melillo tagged him. �Who was the umpire making the call? �It was a three-man umpire crew, and so home plate umpire Ward was the one who went up the line to third to make the call. �Nick Weglarz also doubled, and moments later, a double up the left field line by Chris Gimenez brought in Weglarz and made the score 7-3.
Jean Machi pitched the 8th inning for the Indians. �He worked around a lead-off double by Brantley to keep the Clippers from scoring. �The Indians had only one base runner in their last two chances. �Jeff Clement singled to lead off the 8th, but he was erased in a double play. �The Tribe went down in order in the 9th.
The loss drops the Indians to 4 games behind the Clippers in the International League standings. �The Clippers are in 1st place and the Indians are in 2nd in the Western Division. �The Toledo Mud Hens lost to Gwinnett, and they remain in 3rd place, 3 games behind the Indians.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: �Home runs #2 and #3 for Alex Presley. �Presley is hitting .346 since joining the Indians, which is pretty close to the .350 he was hitting in Altoona. �He already has half as many homers as he hit for the Curve.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: �Two outfield assists, one by CF Alex Presley and one by RF Brandon Moss and Aki Iwamura. �In the 4th inning, Jose Constanza dropped a ball into short center field just in front of Presley, who snatched up the ball and fired to third base, forcing out the lead runner. �In the 7th, Jordan Brown led off with a liner into right field. �He reached second base easily and decided to try for third base, but Moss’s throw in from right field, relayed by Aki Iwamura, to Kevin Melillo had Brown out at third. �Both plays probably saved a run from scoring.
Brad Lincoln won his first major league game this afternoon. �The Pirates beat the Cubs 2-0 in Chicago. �Lincoln pitched 7 innings and allowed 4 hits, with one walk, one hit batter, and 6 strikeouts.
Jim Negrych was not in the line up for the second night, due to tightness in his back, though he did make a pinch-hit appearance in the 9th (strikeout).
Corey Hamman, who was ejected from yesterday’s game when his pitch went up and behind a batter, will have to serve an automatic 3-game suspension. �That’s a league rule when a pitcher is ejected for throwing at a batter. �Hamman begins the suspension tonight.
(photos by Nancy)