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Cleveland Indians

Huff makes most of third start

By Sheldon Published: May 28, 2009

   CLEVELAND: It was touch and go for awhile. ¶
   In David Huff's first two major-league starts, he gave up 13 runs in 62/3 innings. Manager Eric Wedge figured the Indians had enough problems without having to put up with the severe growing pains of a raw rookie, so he thought about it for a few days before giving Huff another start. ¶
   But Wedge made the right decision. Huff's start on Thursday was cut short by a two-hour, 40-minute rain delay, but he showed why he is one of the franchise's more promising prospects, delivering four scoreless innings while allowing four hits and a walk. ¶
   ""He was behind in the count for most of the day, but that says a lot about his stuff,'' Wedge said. ""He worked out of some tough situations. Evidentally, he's becoming more composed in each start.'' ¶
   Huff put the leadoff batter on base three times and three times pitched out of trouble with runners in scoring position. ¶
   ""What I need to start doing is throw first pitch strikes,'' Huff said. ""I can't keep falling behind in the count. That only makes my job harder. ¶
   ""It's a big confidence builder (to get out of jams), but it's also a big disappointment having those guys on base. It shouldn't happen. It's definitely a relief to leave those guys out there, though.'' ¶
   Huff has begun to feel more comfortable pitching to major-league hitters in major-league venues. ¶
   ""I had much more adrenalin flowsing through my body the first time,'' he said. ""Now, the adrenalin is still there, but I can control it. Every time you go out there, you get more comfortable with everything.'' ¶
   The biggest difference between Thursday's start and his first two? ¶
   ""My execution was a lot better,'' Huff said. ""Before, I tried to execute pitches, and I couldn't do it. One thing, you don't look back That's when you start to struggle.'' ¶
   Huff also offered a cautionary word about his relationship to bad weather. ¶
   ""In Columbus, they called me Rain Man,'' he said. ""I think in my seven starts down there, six of them had rain delays or I had to deal with some kind of rain.'' ¶
   Even at the risk of a rain delay, Wedge said that Huff would get another start. ¶
   REVOLVING DOOR -- Zach Jackson got one start Wednesdy night and was sent back to Columbus. ¶
   In his place, right-hander Toma Ohka was summoned from Triple-A and will spend at least a few days in the bullpen. ¶
   Ohka was in the Clippers' rotation and compiled a 3-3 record and 3.42 earned-run average in nine starts. Opposing hitters batted .272 against him, and he averaged 11/2 walks per nine innings. ¶
   Ohka, 33, has pitched 89 games in the major leagues, (starting 81) with the Red Sox, Expos, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Brewers and Blue Jays. His last big-league appearance was June 6, 2007, pitching for Toronto. ¶
   ""He can give us some length,'' manager Eric Wedge said, adding that he did not contemplate using Ohka as a starter. ¶
   If and when Ohka gets an appearance, he will be the 22nd pitcher used by the Indians this season. ¶
   JUST LUCKY? -- Matt Herges had to face Evan Longoria with the tying run on second and two outs in the seventh but struck him out. ¶
   ""What I know about Longoria is that he's a lot better than I am,'' Herges said. ""I don't want to say I was lucky to get him out, but I was fortunate today.'' ¶
   SEE HOW THEY RUN -- In  eight games between the Tribe and Rays, Tampa Bay runners stole 18 bases in 19 attempts. ¶
   The only failure among the bunch was Akinori Iwamura, thrown out in the second game at Tropicana Field by Victor Martinez. A week later, Iwamura tore the ACL in his knee and will miss the rest of the season. ¶
   Twelve of the bases were stolen with Martinez behind the plate, six when Kelly Shoppach was catching, but that might be missing the point. Several of the steals were the fault of pitchers who failed to keep the speedy Rays from getting huge jumps. ¶
  Thirteen of the bases were stolen in the four games in St. Petersburg, and six of those runners scored. For the four-game set in Cleveland, the Rays stole only fiv2 bases, one runner scoring. ¶
  Tampa Bay leads the majors in steals with 81, 22 more than the second-place Angels and 33 more than the Mets, who lead the National League. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Aubrey homered and singled, driving in three runs, as Columbus defeated Charlotte 6-4. Andy Marte also had two hits and one RBI. *elip John Drennen tripled, singled and drove in three runs in Kinston's 7-5 win over Potomac. ¶

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