The Cleveland Indians may have picked up a dramatic victory Saturday, but they also received some inspiration.
The Indians seek consecutive victories as they close out a three-game series at RFK Stadium against the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
As with most teams who have road trips to the nation’s capital, Indians players spent some of their free time visiting wounded servicemen at both Walter Reed Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. They took the time to talk to one wounded soldier who survived being shot in the head.
“He was in good spirits and we said: ‘We’ll try and win one for you tonight,’” said Byrd, who allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings. “And he said: ‘Don’t worry, it’s a done deal. You’ve just shaken the hand of a lucky, lucky man. I got shot in the head and I lived.’ I didn’t know whether to go over there and rub him and get some of that or what, but we shook his hand.
“And as soon as (Martinez) hit it, it was way more than coincidence. His words came true.”
Cleveland improved to 3-23 when trailing after eight innings.
Jake Westbrook (1-2, 7.90 ERA) will be activated prior to the game for the Indians and will make his first start since straining his left abdominal muscle in the second inning of a game May 2 against Toronto. The right-hander made four rehabilitation starts, including an 82-pitch effort Monday for Triple-A Buffalo.
“He’s built up now to where we can take him to the century mark, or right around there, but we’re going to see how he is,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site. “Whenever it’s somebody’s first start back, you’re never quite sure what to expect. You just pay attention to it and see how the game moves along.”
Westbrook, who has never pitched against Washington, is 4-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 10 interleague starts.
The Nationals (31-43) have lost six of their last eight games, and are in danger of losing their sixth consecutive series at RFK. Washington, which is just 15-23 at home, has not won a series there since taking three of four games from Atlanta from May 14-17.
Closer Chad Cordero blew his fifth save in 17 chances when he gave up Martinez’s homer.
“I was trying to get ahead of him, that’s all it was. I was trying to get it down, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get it down far enough and far enough out,” he said. “Everybody went out there and battled so hard, and for me to come out there and blow it, it’s a tough thing to take.”
Jason Simontacchi (4-5, 6.31) is trying to regroup after a nightmarish start from Tuesday, when he was pounded for 10 runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings of a 15-6 loss to Detroit. The 10 runs allowed matched a franchise record, and Simontacchi’s ERA ballooned from 4.84 to 6.31.
“A couple of those guys probably got black eyes going to their bat rack,” Simontacchi said. “It’s just one of those games that anything I threw up it was hit hard, see ya later. It was just ridiculous.”
Simontacchi, who has never faced the Indians, is 5-3 with a 6.24 ERA in nine starts and 12 overall interleague appearances.