CLEVELAND: Nice to know that the wild pitch is not the ultimate weapon in major league baseball.
The Indians gave up two runs on two walks and two wild pitches Tuesday night, but rallied in the eighth to beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 at Progressive Field.
On Monday night, the Royals scored the game winner on a ninth-inning wild pitch, so it was beginning to look like the Tribe should be making some sort of team effort to keep pitches from reaching the screen rather than wasting an hour a day taking batting practice.
But the batting practice did pay off in the eighth, after the second fruitless attempt of the season to do nasty things to Royals starter Ervin Santana.
“We did everything but lose,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “When we were down 2-0 it seemed like more.
“There’s something to be said to play a full nine innings. I should go to the casino in full uni and bet on blue.”
Francona probably knows that there is no blue to bet on, even though that’s the color of his uniform.
Kelvin Herrera took over for Santana in the eighth and walked Ryan Raburn, then gave up one-out hits to Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles to score the Tribe’s second run of the game.
Herrera left and Tim Collins took over but not much changed. Jason Kipnis doubled just inside the third-base line to score Bourn with the second run of the inning, and Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly brought home Aviles.
That was the end of the scoring but not the drama.
Vinnie Pestano entered in the ninth and gave up hits to David Lough and Mike Moustakas to put runners on first and second with one out. Alcides Escobar followed with a single to right and Lough looked as if he would score easily to tie the score.
But halfway down the third-base line, he stopped and retreated to third, having run through the third-base coach’s stop sign. He got caught in a rundown, and Pestano tagged him and Moustakas, since both were standing on third.
Since two runners cannot occupy the same base, Moustakas was out.
“I saw the single,” Lough said. “It was toward the line so I thought I was going to score. I came around [third], and by the time I picked up Eddie [coach Eddie Rodriguez], I was halfway. I take full responsibility for that.”
Added Pestano: “I tagged Moustakas then I tagged Lough. I knew the rule, but when it actually happens on the field, it’s a different thing. But I had seven guys yelling who I should tag.”
So three hits and a walk produced no runs for the Royals.
“I was fired up to get that save,” Pestano said. “I had every intention of having a 1-2-3 inning, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Aside from throwing two wild pitches the same inning, Ubaldo Jimenez didn’t do much wrong.
But in the third inning, the Royals scored twice without the benefit of a hit on a rally that began with walks to Escobar and Alex Gordon. At that point, Jimenez unleashed his first wild pitch, putting runners on second and third.
Not only did that erase the likelihood of a double play, but also when Eric Hosmer hit a routine bouncer (read, double-play ball) to Aviles at short, Escobar was able to score from third and Gordon moved to third.
Before the inning ended, Jimenez delivered another ball in the dirt that bounced off Carlos Santana for an RBI wild pitch.
On Monday night, the Tribe lost to the Royals on a ninth-inning run that scored on Matt Albers’ wild pitch.
“It was kind of a weird night for Ubaldo,” Francona said. “He threw a lot of pitches, and two walks the same inning cost two runs. Everything seemed really slow; he needed to get the pace of the game going.”
In retrospect, Jimenez also thought he could have worked faster, but there was something else.
“I think I lost my rhythm [walking two in the third],” he said. “After that inning I relaxed and threw strikes. As the starting pitcher, you want to throw seven or eight innings.”
In 5⅔ innings, Jimenez gave up only two hits and struck out four. He might have lasted longer if not for four walks that pushed his pitch count to 114.
Santana worked seven stellar innings, giving up just three hits and two walks, but in the sixth, Drew Stubbs’ single and steal of second plus Aviles’ RBI single produced a run.
In an earlier start against the Indians this year, Santana worked seven shutout innings, winning 3-2.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.