Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians 5-3 victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox that pushed their winning streak to a season-high five games.
1) Indians rookie starter T.J. House bent, but did not break in a solid outing that unfortunately ended in another no-decision. In the 5 2/3-inning no decision, the left-hander tip-toed around a handful of jams, each time escaping or effectively limiting the damage against a veteran-heavy Boston lineup.
In the first inning House gave up a hit to the first batter and hit the second b y a pitch just minutes into the action. But he escaped the two-on jam by retiring Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes to end the threat. In the bottom of the inning, the Tribe offense handed him a three-run cushion with which to work.
2) The early run support came in handy in the third inning when Boston threatened again, this time getting on the board via a Xander Bogaerts solo homer. House had a little luck on his side in the inning as well however. A.J. Pierzynski crushed a ball to center with two men on, but Michael Bourn raced to the wall and hauled it in right in front of the wall. You could almost hear House - and the rest of the Indians for that matter - exhale, knowing they were just a few inches away from entering into an uphill slugfest.
3) In the fifth, House went mano-a-mano against veteran slugger David Ortiz in a lengthy 11-pitch at bat that ended in a flyout to centerfield to strand a runner.
“That was a tough at-bat, but it was really fun,” House said. “I used to watch him play when I was in junior high and high school. It's pretty cool to get out there and face a guy like that and actually have success.”
4) House held the Boston bats quiet for a few more innings until the allowing a lead off walk to Gomes. He rebounded to retire the next two hitters before Indians manager Terry Francona congratulated him on a job well down and called for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski for a lefty-on-lefty match up.
As well as House pitched, for the second time in his three starts he left the game with a lead, but went on to earn a no decision instead when the bullpen allowed an inherited runner to score – Tuesday that being Gomes when Jonathan Herrera drove him in with a RBI single off Rzepczynski.
5) House also showed impressive athleticism when he quickly bounded off the mound to chase down a bunt attempt, gloved the ball and then scooped it in the same action to first baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to get the out.
6) House took the place of Zach McAllister in the starting rotation recently when the right-hander went on the disabled list with a lower back strain after struggling in his last couple outings. But McAllister is slated to make a rehab start at low Class-A Lake County Wednesday and could be ready to return soon. It will be interesting to watch which way the Indians choose to go.
7) Bourn came up big on his Bobble head giveaway night. Then again, he’s come up big a lot recently while owning the team’s current hottest bat. With two on and one out in the seventh inning, Boston manager John Farrell replaced the tiring Jake Peavy with Andrew Miller to face Bourn.
8) Left-handed batters were 6-for-31 with 15 strikeouts against Miller entering the game. But Bourn got ahead in the count and drove a fastball deep to left field and over the head of Gomes, who was playing in. The two-run double proved to be the winning advantage.
“Once (the pitch) was thrown, I just tried to get my hands inside it and see where it goes from there,” Said Bourn, undoubtedly oversimplifying his approach to the nasty lefty.
9) Excuse the Indians if they’re starting to do a little scoreboard watching in the first week of July. But they’re riding a season-high five-game win streak, have won eight consecutive at home and are now 20-11 at Progressive Field. It’s no small feat to have pulled to within 4 1/2 games of the first-place Detroit Tigers (31-23) in the American League Central.
10) This, after looking up from within a 10 ½ game hole two and a half weeks ago. But the Tribe did the old fashioned, clichéd and yet effective way: taking it day by day and looking no further.
“It can seem so daunting when you look too far in advance,” Francona said. “But when you just take care of what you're supposed to each day, all of a sudden you start doing what you're supposed to do. You pay attention to detail, do your job and things mount in a good way.”