Josh Tomlin gave the Indians what they needed tonight, pitching into the seventh inning and really making only two mistakes, the bullpen once again came through to get to Chris Perez, who got the job done in the ninth for his 18th save, and the Tribe salvaged the finale of their three-game series with a big assist from Travis Hafner’s seventh home run to beat Colorado, 4-3, and remaining a game in front of Detroit as Cleveland heads into an off-day tomorrow and then a long road trip beginning Friday in San Francisco.
Tomlin (9-4, 3.95 ERA) gave up three runs in 6.1 innings, all courtesy of Ty Wigginton, who belted a solo shot in the fifth and a two-run dinger that chased Tomlin in the seventh. The second multi-homer game for a Colorado hitter in as many nights gave Wigginton nine long-balls for the season.
On came Vinnie Pestano to strike out two in that seventh. Pestano then made it three K’s in a row when he got the first out in the eighth. Even so, Tony Sipp came on. The move worked when Sipp retired the next two batters, with a strikeout of his own, to get the game to Chris Perez.
Perez gave up a two-out double to Seth Smith, who beat Perez on Tuesday night with a ninth-inning blast, but Perez got Wigginton to fly out to center to end it and send a crowd of over 17,000 home happy.
Cleveland got to Colorado starter and loser Jason Hammel with two runs in the third. Travis Buck started things with a single, followed by a walk to Jack Hannahan. Grady Sizemore followed with a single to right to put the Tribe up 1-0, still with nobody out, with Hannahan stopping at second. But Hammel (4-7, 4.13 ERA) retired the next two hitters, with both runners moving up, before — with a two-strike count on Hafner — Hammel started his windup and then stopped. A balk was called and Hannahan trotted home to make it 2-0.
After Wigginton’s first homer drew the Rockies to within 2-1, Hafner came through in the bottom of the sixth after Asdrubal Cabrera doubled leading off. Hafner hit a laser-shot down the right field line that wasted little time leaving the yard, and the Indians had what turned out to be the winning run as the margin grew to 4-1.
So the Tribe can relax a bit tomorrow and get ready for three games against the defending World Series champion Giants. Let’s hope that Cleveland has better success than they had recently against the losers of that World Series — the Texas Rangers.