Tribe improves to 55-55
Not to rain on T.J. House's parade - 5 shutout innings, 3 hits and 7 strikeouts - but Scott Atchison is tonight's hero.
Everyone's favorite Uncle came into the game in the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. Atchison proceeded to induce a groundout from Adrian Beltre, tag out Elvus Andrus in a rundown and strike out Leonys Martin to kill the rally. More importantly, he did all this in a 0-0 ballgame. And most importantly, the Indians would finally score in their half of the inning, giving them the eventual victory.
House looked good tonight only giving up 3 hits and walking 2 more. Two other baserunners reached on errors, though. The first courtesy of Jason Kipnis and the second was self induced. Luckily, neither came around to hurt him. Not allowing any runs was obviously important, but you'd like to see him work a little more efficiently. After pitching to two in the 6th, he exited the game having thrown 97 pitches.
His counterpart, Miles Mikolas, on the other hand, got through 7 innings on 100 pitches. A lot of that seemed to be helped by the free swinging bats the Indians brought with them. The Tribe hitters didn't seem to show as much patience and restraint against Mikolas as they would need. To his credit, Mikolas featured some good offspeed pitches that kept the Tribe hitters guessing.
The Indians did all their damage in the bottom of the 6th. Jason Kipnis led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed over by Mike Aviles. Michael Brantley hit a liner at short for the first out, but Kipnis was able to advance to 3rd. The Rangers, not wanting to get beat by the bat of Carlos Santana, intentionally walked him to get to Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall promptly singled in the runner and Nick Swisher followed suit with a run scoring single of his own. Those two runs would be all they would get but they were also all the Indians needed.
Bryan Shaw pitched much better tonight with a clean 8th before giving way to Cody Allen in the 9th. Allen struggled out of the gate, allowing the first two runners to reach, but was able to find his command to set the next 3 batters down in order to close out the victory.
This was a good victory for two reasons, the first being that Toronto, the leader for the 2nd Wild Card spot, lost tonight. The second reason was Jim Thome. On a night to honor one of the greatest hitters of the beloved 90's era Indians, it was only fitting to treat the large crowd on hand to a victory.
As you know, the Indians honored Big Jim with a statue of his own before the game. He spoke about what it meant to him to come back "home" and, in a truly classy move, signed an honorary one-day contract with the team and officially announced his retirement as a Cleveland Indian.
While that was probably planned for at least a short time, what wasn't planned was the honor given by Jason Giambi. Just before the start of the game, Giambi informed the team that he would be giving up the #25 in honor of Thome. During the ceremony, Jason came out and handed over his jersey. It was a great moment between two aging sluggers of a different era, adding to the perfect bookend on Jim Thome's time in Cleveland. We love ya, Jim.
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