For the first six innings tonight, the Indians’ production was like the LeBron decision: a lot of hope that fizzled out. David Phelps was unflappable early, as the Indians had hits in off of him in each of the first five innings but nothing to show for it. The Tribe could not string together hits, especially with runners in scoring position, and the outcome looked hopeless. Teamed with TJ House’s struggles over just 4 2/3 innings pitched, this game was shaping up to be a stinker.
In the first six innings, the Yankees faced three Tribe pitchers and laced nine total hits off of them. The Yankees drew first blood on a Zelous Wheeler 2-run homer in the 4th. In the 5th, Yangervis Solarte had an RBI single that chased House from the game. After playing 14 innings yesterday, the Tribe bullpen was dragged into the game well earlier than hoped. It looked like the Yankees would blow the game wide open as Vinnie Pestano, yesterday’s loser, sprinted to the mound in what felt like mop up duty.
Freaky Friday style, the Indians and Yankees reversed roles during the seventh inning stretch. David Phelps allowed back to back singles and was replaced by Matt Thornton. Thornton pitched for the Chicago White Sox for years and has struggled against the Indians, entering today’s game with a 4.61 ERA in 68 1/3 innings pitched against the Tribe. He promptly allowed a Jason Kipnis infield single to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera followed Kipnis with a triple on the first pitch he saw from Thornton, tying the game at 3. There were still no outs in the inning, though Michael Brantley changed that with a sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Cabrera. That ended Thornton’s night; he was replaced by Jim Miller.
In the 8th inning, Scott Atchison allowed the tying run to get on base when a pinch hitting Ichiro led off the inning with a single to left. Atchison did a great job by getting the speedy Brett Gardner to ground into a double play. Derek Jeter, in his final game at Progressive Field, struck out to end the inning.
As Jim Miller returned for the 8th inning, he struck out Nick Swisher to lead off the inning. Then the newbies had some luck, with Chris Dickerson doubling to right before scoring on a 2-run homer by Roberto Perez. Perez, making his Major League debut, finished 2-3 with that long ball, the first home run for an Indians player in their Major League debut since Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2006. Later in the inning, Dr. Smooth hit an RBI single and Carlos Santana blasted a dinger over the wall in right field. By the time Miller got the inning’s final out, the Tribe had blown the game wide open, extending their lead to 9-3. That score would hold for the final three outs, giving the Indians a split of their four game series against the Yankees.
Before the game, Derek Jeter was honored with a custom made white Les Paul guitar that had his number on it alongside a lego portrait of his first career home run, hit at Progressive Field on Opening Day 1996, crafted by visiting clubhouse attendant Wayne Peltz. He finished the game 2-4.
Chris Dickerson and Jason Kipnis had three hits apiece for the home team while Carlos Carrasco lowered his ERA to a respectable 3.74 and earned the win. Matt Thornton blew a save, blew in general, and took the loss. The Chicago White Sox come to town for the final pre-All-Star Break series, with the opening game tomorrow night starting at 7:05. All-Star snub Corey Kluber faces off against Hector Noesi as the Indians try to build some momentum ahead of the midsummer classic.