It was a beautiful night for baseball at Progressive Field this evening. All the elements were in place for a good time: the weather was perfect, the Indians are in first place, I was there with my good friend Wyatt, and it was Sugardale Dollar Dog night, when hot dogs cost $1. All I needed for complete baseball bliss was for the Indians to beat the Tigers. And by a score of 4-2, that’s exactly what they did, thanks to some great pitching from Indians starter Zach McAllister and Bullpen Mafioso Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez, with big assists from the home run power of Travis Hafner and some timely hitting from several other Indians.
The first five innings of the game were scoreless, with each team failing to take advantage of what few scoring opportunities presented themselves. Tigers starter Doug Fister worked his way out of trouble in the first and fourth innings. McAllister allowed 10 hits in his six and one-third innings of work, including four doubles. However, he was only touched for two runs, in part because—pay attention, Ubaldo Jimenez—he didn’t walk a single batter.
They say that when you attend a baseball game, you have a good chance of seeing something you’ve never seen before. Today I saw something I never saw before, as Tigers centerfielder Quintin Berry, who had just been called up from the Tigers’ AAA affiliate in Toledo, led off the sixth inning with a rare bunt double to the right side of the infield. The ball eluded McAllister and Tribe second baseman Josh Kipnis, and Berry made it all the way to second base. He scored the first run of the game moments later when left fielder Andy Dirks hit a for-real double to deep right. Dirks later scored the second run of the inning, coming in from third on a fielder’s choice ground ball from Prince Fielder.
That was all the scoring the Tigers were to do on the night, though. And their lead was brief, as the Indians tied the game in the bottom of the inning when DH Travis Hafner hit a two-run homer to right field. The Indians took the lead in the eighth, scoring two runs on a single, a double, a fielder’s choice, and a sacrifice fly.
Speaking of the eighth inning, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the importance of Vinnie Pestano to tonight’s victory. He entered the game in the top of the eighth with the score tied at 2-2 and a runner on first and no outs. He promptly gave up consecutive singles to Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch, thus loading the bases. I won’t say I wasn’t worried, but I felt that Vinnie could work his way out of the jam he’d gotten himself into, and I was right. He struck out Jhonny Peralta, then got Ramon Santiago to hit a grounder to first, where Casey Kotchman forced out Fielder at home. The next batter, pinch-hitter Alex Avila, worked the count to 3-2 before looking at a called third strike to end the inning.
Chris Perez, as he did last night, sprinted out to the mound in the ninth inning to loud applause and cheers. Unlike last night, he didn’t allow a baserunner this time, striking out Berry and Dirks before getting the mighty Miguel Cabrera to fly out to center to end the game.
So, to recap: great weather, great company, cheap eats (if you’re keeping score at home, I had three dollar dogs), and an Indians win. And to top it all off, the row we were sitting in (bleachers, section 181, row E) was selected as the winner of a contest. Everyone in our row won a coupon good for a free one-pound package of Sugardale beef franks, just in time to help furnish an upcoming Memorial Day cookout! Like the old Charles Barsotti cartoon said: you may already be a wiener.
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