It took 15 pitches for Vinnie Pestano to retire Jeff Baker, who led off the ninth inning for the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
No matter. Pestano kept throwing strikes and finally Baker grounded out, the Indians going on to win 5-2.
“It was a heck of an at-bat,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, “but to his credit, Vinnie kept pumping strikes in there. You worry about what that takes out of a guy.”
Pestano wasn’t concerned about fatigue from throwing 15 pitches in a stressful situation.
“It was actually good for me to be put in a position where I could throw as hard as I can,” Pestano said.
Because the count was 2-and-2, Pestano limited his choice of pitches to one: his heater.
“I didn’t want to miss with a slider or hang one and go to 3-and-2,” he said. “Then I’d have to throw fastballs.”
If the count went full, both Pestano and Baker would know what pitch was coming.
The Tribe bullpen has come in for its share of criticism during the club’s recent 4-16 skid that ended Tuesday night, so there was a measure of redemption Wednesday night, when Rich Hill, Bryan Shaw, Nick Hagadone, Joe Smith and Pestano did their job.
“This is how we’re supposed to perform,” Pestano said. “So there’s no fist pumping or anything like that. This is our job.”
Of the workmanship of starter Ubaldo Jimenez and the relief corps, Francona said, “Any time you limit them [Rangers] to one or two runs, you’re doing a good job.”
Tomlin on schedule
Josh Tomlin has been throwing off the mound at the Tribe’s Goodyear, Ariz., facility and has had no setbacks since undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery last year.
“I feel like I could come back right now,” Tomlin said.
But that’s not the way it works. When doctors and head trainer Lonnie Soloff set up a rehab schedule, they stick to it, regardless of how healthy the player feels.
That means Tomlin probably will start throwing batting practice in two or three weeks, and it’s possible that he will be pitching in games in September, though probably not in the big leagues. Tomlin is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation next spring.
The Indians have signed left-hander Clay Rapada as a minor-league free agent and sent him to Triple-A Columbus.
Rapada, 32, went to spring training with the New York Yankees and pitched 10 times at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, posting a 4.66 ERA in 9⅔ innings.
Last year with the Yankees, Rapada posted a 3-0 record and 2.82 ERA in 70 relief appearances.
Two more sign
The Tribe signed two more players from this month’s draft:
Outfielder Silento Sayles, a high school player from Port Gibson, Miss., was the club’s 14th-round selection, and infielder Paul Hendrix out of TCU was the Indians’ 18th-round pick.
The Tribe won its first series in Arlington since a three-game sweep Aug. 22-24, 2008. … This was the first time the club won consecutive games on the road since May 11-12 at Detroit. … Jimenez is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in seven starts on the road. … Jason Giambi, who was hit by pitches twice Wednesday night, leads all active players with 177 career hit by pitches. He ranks 12th all time. … Jason Kipnis has hit safely in his past seven games (.357).
Joe Wendle had two doubles, a single and four RBI, as Carolina lost to Potomac 13-11 in Class A. Jerrud Sabourin had three hits and three RBI, and Francisco Lindor had two hits and one RBI. … Joe Sever homered and drove in three runs, and Erik Gonzalez homered, doubled, singled and had two RBI, as Lake County blanked Fort Wayne 11-0 in Class A. Dorssys Paulino doubled twice, singled and drove in one run, and Dylan Baker (2-5, 4.52 ERA) threw 6⅔ scoreless innings, allowing two hits.
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.