Tony Sipp was hero for a day on Sunday.
He trotted in from the Indians' bullpen with bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, the Tribe holding a two-run lead.
Waiting for Sipp at the plate was Justin Morneau, the Minnesota Twins' most lethal hitter. Sipp struck him out on a 94 mph fastball. That brought up Jason Kubel, the Twins' rising hitting star. Sipp fanned him on a sweeping slider.
End of inning, end of threat, the Tribe going on to a 4-2 win at Progressive Field.
Having been called up from Triple-A last week, it was Sipp's second career big-league appearance. In his first, he was asked to keep a ninth-inning, two-run deficit against the Kansas City Royals to two runs, and he did. Sundays' circumstances were even more dire.
Why did manager Eric Wedge entrust winning and losing to a raw rookie?
""What he's done is consistent with what he did in the minors,'' Wedge said. ""We talked to a number of his minor-league managers and coaches. He likes to be in these situations.''
Well, yes, he does, but Sipp was quick to feel the stress on Sunday.
""I was about as comfortable as I could get,'' he said. ""I can't remember the last time I came in during the middle of an inning with runners on base. With the situation at hand, there is definite pressure. But I do like to be in those situations.''
Sipp tried to shift the pressure to the hitters by getting ahead in the count.
""I tried to put pressure on them instead of me,'' he said. ""Both guys had 2-and-2 counts on them, so they couldn't think (for sure) that a fastball was coming. I try to go out and throw strikes. On my good days, that's what I can do.''
Sipp saved the win for Aaron Laffey, his road roommate in Triple-A at Columbus.
""We used to talk about how awesome it would be for him to come in for me,'' Laffey said. ""So it was great to see it happen. It was like a welcome-to-the-big-leagues moment; he's facing one of the best hitters in the big leagues in Justin Morneau, and he shuts him down.
""Tony is as cool as can be. Nothing bothers that guy. He has ice in his veins, that's for sure.''
Sipp enjoyed keeping his buddy's win intact.
""Coming in for a friend makes it even better,'' he said, ''because we can talk about it and joke about it afterward.''
Sipp's quick success apparently isn't going to his head.
""Hopefully, I'll build my confidence,'' he said. ""When you look at it, it's two innings, nothing more.''
NEW DIRECTION? -- Mark DeRosa has been the Indians' regular No. 2 hitter, but in that role he was batting only .203.
So with the Tribe in a batting slump, manager Wedge installed Adrubal Cabrera in the lineup behind Grady Sizemore, and Cabrera responded with an RBI single, a double, a walk and a run scored.
""Asdrubal had a great game offensively and defensively,'' Wedge said. ""He'll be there (in the second spot) tomorrow. He has some experience there. He did an outstanding job in 2007.''
FROM THE OTHER SIDE -- Morneau, victimized by Sipp when Morneau had a chance to tie the score in the seventh inning, spoke about striking out with the bases loaded.
""He came right at us with a pretty good fastball at 93-94 miles per hour,'' Morneau said. ""He wasn't afraid in a big situation. It's always tough when you're facing a guy for the first time.
""That guy's out there for one reason: to get left-handers out. Hopefully, we can get to him the next time we face him.'
OTHER STUFF -- The Indians are 3-0 when a lefty starts against them. . . . The Tribe has one home run in the past five games. . . . Laffey has thrown seven double-play balls in his past two starts. . . . Cabrera is batting .439 in his past 13 games. . . . Ryan Garko has reached base in all 13 games he has played.
STREAKING SOX -- Going into Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox had won nine in a row, a franchise record in April.
The hottest of the hot Red Sox hitters are Mike Lowell, batting .447 with three homers, four doubles and 18 RBI in the past nine games, and Dustin Pedroia, batting .484 with four doubles and six RBI in the previous eight games.
The Sox begin a three-game series at Progressive Field tonight. Boston is 9-2 at Fenway Park but only 2-4 on the road.
FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta hit his fifth homer of the season, tripled and singled, driving in two runs, as Columbus beat Indianapolis 6-3. LaPorta raised his average to .404. David Huff (3-0, 4.09 ERA) gave up three runs in six innings, striking out seven. . . . Matt McBride had three hits and two RBI in Kinston's 8-1 win over Lynchburg in Class A . Matt Brown had two hits and two RBI. Jeanmar Gomez (2-2, 2.63 ERA) worked seven shutuout innings, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out six. . . . Russell Young (0-1, 5.14 ERA) gave up two earned runs and seven hits in six innings, but Lake County lost a 4-1 decision to Delmarva in Class A.
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