CLEVELAND: Maybe it’s a good thing that Jeanmar Gomez missed most of the Indians’ catastrophic collapse.
Gomez was in Columbus sharpening his skills and waiting for another chance to pitch in the big leagues while the Tribe was making local history by enduring 11- and nine-game losing streaks in the same season.
Gomez didn’t miss all the misery, but when he was summoned last week, he pitched out of the bullpen once before making a start Saturday night for the injured Roberto Hernandez.
And guess what? Gomez snapped the latest losing streak at six, as the Indians eked out a 4-3 win against the Rangers at Progressive Field.
“Gomez threw the ball well,” manager Manny Acta said. “He pitched ahead, and he was very good at attacking the hitters with his sinker. Those guys were giving up on it. The third time around [the lineup], maybe they were catching up to him.”
Gomez didn’t know he would sub for Hernandez until Friday.
“It didn’t make any difference to me,” Gomez said.
Gomez didn’t ease into the game. He went right at the Rangers’ hitters from the outset, striking out four of the first six batters he faced. And even though he gave up three runs in 5⅔ innings, he didn’t allow Texas to mount a sustained rally.
David Murphy opened the Rangers’ fourth by walloping an 0-and-2 pitch over the right-field fence for his 12th home run of the season. Gomez got himself out of a mild jam — two on, one out — in the fourth by throwing a double-play ball to Michael Young, but his own mistakes cost him a run in the fifth.
Gaffe No. 1 was walking Murphy to lead off the inning. Gomez’s second slip-up came when the next batter, Geovany Soto, slapped a ground ball to the mound. Gomez took his time — way too much time — and lobbed a throw to first for the out. Meanwhile, Murphy steamed around second base and advanced to third. That shouldn’t happen on a bouncer to the pitcher.
“I never thought that would happen,” Gomez said. “That was one mistake by me. The other was the 0-and-2 pitch to Murphy.”
Gomez paid for his inattention to the runner, when Mitch Moreland followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the second Texas run. Adrian Beltre’s home run with two out in the sixth accounted for the Rangers’ third run and ended Gomez’s tenure on the mound.
So in his first big-league start since June 23 against the Astros, Gomez gave up four hits and two walks, striking out five. He also used only 81 pitches, 50 for strikes.
When it came time to close out the game, it was Vinnie Pestano and not Chris Perez who trotted in from the bullpen. Perez was with his wife, who gave birth to a daughter early in the day. Perez never even got to the ballpark.
“They never told me [about closing], but I kind of figured that everyone would advance one rung up the ladder,” Pestano said.
Pestano was summoned with two out and a runner on first in the eighth, which meant he was required to retire four batters.
“Every now and then you have to go for one of those Goose Gossage saves,” he said, referring to a time when closers routinely pitched more than one inning. “That never hurt anybody.”
A team wearing Indians jerseys and caps leveled their bats at Scott Feldman and scored four runs in the first inning. One of the umpires asked to see the driver’s licenses of the team carrying bats, but it is believed that they really were memebers of the Tribe acting kind of weird. That is, they were delivering a series of hits.
Shin-Soo Choo led off with a walk, and Jason Kipnis hit a ball alarmingly hard for a double to send Choo to third. Carlos Santana’s single scored both runners, and Michael Brantley’s hit put runners on first and second. Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan only managed to slap ground balls to second, but both outs scored runs.
The last time the Indians scored as many as four runs in an inning was Aug. 18 in Oakland. But those were ninth-inning garbage runs that came when the Athletics were ahead 8-1.
Tellingly, the last time before Aug. 18 that the Tribe scored four runs in an inning was July 26 against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in what was thought to be the time that proved the Indians would stay in the race.
“This is a new month,” Acta said. “I don’t know if the name of month has anything to do with it, but it’s nice to get a win.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.