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Indians Indians Archive Tribe Trips Giants With 3 Solo Shots
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Indians-GiantsIt’s funny, the way things happen in March.  In a game that featured Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Buster Posey, it was Roberto Perez, of Akron Aeros fame, that played the role of the hero in the Indians 4-3 victory over the Giants in Scottsdale on Tuesday.  With the game knotted at 3, we were dangerously close to “kissing your sister” territory, which would have been the defending champs 4th stalemate in 12 games, but Perez put an end to that nonsense on a 2-2 pitch from Dan Otero with one out in a 3-3 game.

Early on, it didn’t seem as if the ball was going to fly out of the ballpark often, but the Indians and Giants certainly picked their spots.  You wouldn’t call it “small ball”, but Ezekiel Carrera took it upon himself to set the table properly in the second, even though he didn’t do anything to help his batting average (.111) on Tuesday. 

“His speed impacts the game,” Terry Francona said, when asked what he thought of Carrera, “He could be an interesting part of the bench; he can change the game with his speed.  He’s a good little player.  I think he’s done a really good job of hitting the cut-off man, coming to get the ball; eliminating runs that way.”

Cord Phelps led the inning off with a single to right center field that landed just feet in front of Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence, the ball was booted a bit by Pence, but Phelps held at first on the play.  Carrera hit a ground ball to Madison Bumgarner, the Giants starting pitcher, which erased Phelps at second base.  That’s when Carrera decided to get the inning started.  With Juan Diaz at the plate, he stole 2nd base, then took 3rd on the strike 3 pitch to Diaz. Luis Hernandez brought the Indians speed demon home on a base hit to left field, to give the visiting Tribe a 1-0 advantage. 

Hernandez’s RBI single would be the only run scored on a ball that stayed in the park.  The Indians threatened again on a blast, or at least a pretty good shot, from the past, a double by Ben Francisco off Brett Bochy, son of the Giants manager.  He’d move to third on what was ruled a wild pitch, but Buster Posey certainly got the benefit of the doubt with the pitch going 5-hole to the screen. 

A Nick Swisher walk set things up for the sizzling hot Ryan Raburn, with runners on the corners, but a hard hit ball to third resulted in a play at the plate that lacked drama, as Francisco basically walked into the tag of Posey at home for the second out of the inning.  Cord Phelps lined out, and the Tribe was done in 3rd inning.

The recurring theme of the day was scoring quickly, by way of the long ball.  Juan Diaz was the first to oblige, hitting from the left side of the plate; he was locked in on Ramon Ramirez’s 3-2 changeup and put it on the berm in right-center field.  That put them up 2-0, and it didn’t look like the Indians were done in the fourth.

Luis Hernandez took a free pass. Then, with the hit and run on, Bourn singled; Hernandez went 1st to 3rd on the play and the Tribe was in business again with one outs.  It was all for not though; Marson went down looking at strike 3 and Francisco flied out to the warning track in left center.  Bourn stole second on the strikeout pitch to Marson, his first swiped bag of the spring.

SmithJoe Smith got his first work in a live game this spring and his 2013 action began with the reigning National League MVP in the batter’s box.  Smith got Posey to ground out to third for the 1st out of the bottom of the fourth inning, but then things got as hairy as they would get for Tribe relievers in this game.  Francisco Peguero ground a single past Cord Phelps at 2nd base, which brought Brandon Crawford to the plate.  Crawford took Smith’s 0-2 offering over the right field wall to knot things up at 2.  Thirteen of his fourteen pitches were strikes, and Francona used the word “amazing” describe the sidearm reliever’s first appearance.

It would not be the first time the Giants had runners aboard, as Tribe starter Daisuke Matsuzaka did plenty of pitching from the stretch in two of his three innings on the bump, but he managed to pitch out of it.  After starting freezing Blanco up on the third strike to start his day, Dice-K put a Giant on every base before inducing a very un-traditional double play.  Brandon Belt flied out down the line in shallow left, but Kensuke Tanaka would attempt to tag-up and score; Raburn’s throw was on-line and Marson applied the tag for the 7-2 double play in your score book…just like they drew it up on paper.

Dice K“Like Dice-K can do, he can put some men on base and he can get out of it with the best of them,” Francona said of Matsuzaka’s performance, “…you know, there’s no panic in him and he has the ability to throw multiple pitches at the same speed for strikes.  (That) gets him out of jams.”  The former Red Sox pitcher told the media, through an interpreter, that it was the best he felt out of his three outings.  What the Tribe skipper loved about him in Boston was his ability to pitch out of jams, and Matsuzaka acknowledges that he puts a lot of thought into how he has to pitch with runners on base.

David Huff came on to pitch in the fourth inning, and rebounded nicely from his outing on March 1st against the White Sox that saw him allow 3 runs in two innings of work.  The only hit Huff allowed on Tuesday was Brandon Belt’s 3rd home run of the spring, which tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, erasing another Indians lead.

SwisherThe Indians had gained the short-lived advantage on Nick Swisher’s solo shot to right field, his second for the Indians in Cactus League play, off of Jake Dunning on a 2-1 pitch.  That gave the Tribe a 3-2 lead, which they held until Belt’s blast, an inning later.  Swisher spoke about having fun, enjoying camp, and the team finding their identity.  He cited the great offensive performances of his teammates; Brantley, Chisenhall, and Raburn. 

“I’m excited.  I really am.  This is like a homecoming in a sense, coming back to Ohio.  I’ve never been here before, so I don’t know what it’s been like in the past, but it seems like there’s an awful lot of buzz going on around this team, especially in the 2-1-6.”


With Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez unavailable, and who knows if we’d have seen them in this situation anyhow, the eighth and ninth innings were handled by what personnel Terry Francona had on hand.  Bryan Shaw responded by throwing a perfect eighth, making him the pitcher of record when Perez, the outstanding defensive catcher, helped spare us all extra innings or the dreaded tie.  Joe Martinez threw a quick 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 2nd save of the young spring.

After spending two days away from their Goodyear digs in Phoenix’s East Valley, the Tribe is back home tomorrow to host the Dodgers.  The first pitch is at 3:05 ET/1:05 AZ; Justin Masterson will be throwing it for Terry Francona.  Don Mattingly will counter with the left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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