A few moments earlier, Vizquel led a champagne toast in Cleveland’s clubhouse in honor of his 2,000th career hit.
The wines were a fine vintage. So was the single.
Vizquel’s milestone hit helped set up Cleveland’s three-run rally in the eighth inning Thursday, giving the Indians a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.
“What made it so special was that we came from behind,” said Vizquel, who started his career with Seattle. “That’s something we’ve struggled with all year.”
Vizquel then proudly showed off his Napa Valley wines from McDonald.
“Good wine,” Vizquel said, “and a good win.”
The win could have been a potentially costly one for the Indians.
However, the club got good news Thursday night when an MRI taken earlier in the day showed that ace C.C. Sabathia had only irritated a biceps muscle during pregame warmups and wasn’t seriously injured.
Sabathia was pulled from what would have been his 100th career start about 15 minutes before he was scheduled to make his first pitch. Jeff D’Amico filled in for the left-hander, who was immediately taken for tests.
Trainer Lonnie Soloff said the MRI revealed that Sabathia had irritated the biceps muscle while throwing. Sabathia will be re-examined on Friday in Detroit.
Soloff said the team was optimistic Sabathia will be pitching again soon.
“We’re very encouraged by it,” Soloff said.
The Indians are off next Monday and Thursday, which will give Sabathia more time to heal.
Pitching coach Carl Willis said Sabathia threw about 20 warmup pitches in the center-field bullpen when he felt some soreness while tossing a changeup.
“Hopefully it was a freaky, fluky thing,” Willis said.
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro was reluctant to speculate on Sabathia’s status before the results were back, but he most certainly feels better now.
“Bottom line, we won a game where the odds were stacked against us,” Shapiro said. “A good MRI reading will make it about the best day we’ve had in a while.”
Before the eighth, it appeared the Indians were headed for a third straight loss.
But after Ronnie Belliard walked, Vizquel became the 230th player to reach 2,000 hits when he singled off Jason Grimsley (1-1). Three batters later, Victor Martinez hit a game-winning RBI double off D.J. Carrasco and Cleveland got its first come-from-behind win this season.
“I knew he wanted to do that at home, and for our squad,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
On Monday, Vizquel asked Wedge to pinch-hit for him in a 10-4 loss so he would have a chance to reach 2,000 at a more meaningful moment.
“I was afraid to ask,” Vizquel said, recalling his conversation with Wedge. “I’m just glad Wedgie knew where I was coming from. This couldn’t have worked out better.”
But Grimsley couldn’t protect the lead. He walked Belliard to open the eighth before Vizquel, who started his career with Seattle, slapped his 1,469th hit for Cleveland through the left side.
Grimsley wasn’t happy about any of his pitches.
“It’s not a very good feeling knowing you’re the reason we lost the ball game,” he said. “Getting the ball over the plate shouldn’t be a problem. There’s no defense for that. I couldn’t get it over.”
Ken Harvey had four hits for the Royals.
Kansas City starter Jeremy Affeldt held the Indians without an earned run and just two hits in seven innings, and was six outs away from his first win as a starter since July 23 when his bullpen blew it.
“We wasted a great outing by Affeldt,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “It’s the best I’ve seen him throw as a starter.”
D’Amico was getting ready to leave the clubhouse when he was told he was starting. There was no time to be nervous and barely enough to get loose.
Fortunately, plate umpire Joe Brinkman pushed the start back eight minutes so D’Amico could warm up on just two days’ rest.
The right-hander was scheduled to pitch Sunday in Detroit, but doesn’t know when he will again.
“No clue,” he said. “Hopefully, not in another three days.”
Vizquel is the 19th active player with 2,000 hits, and second among active shortstops behind Cincinnati’s Barry Larkin. … Royals 1B Mike Sweeney sat out with a sore right wrist he hurt swinging a weighted bat Wednesday. … The Royals went 1-7 on their road trip. … Gerut returned to Cleveland’slineup after missing two games with a hyperextended right knee.