Indians 7, Blue Jays 6, 11 innings
CLEVELAND (AP)—Let’s just say this one came up way short of Pronkville.
With Toronto playing the Indians’ powerful pull hitter to the right side, Hafner stuck out his bat and got enough of a low, outside 3-2 pitch from Shaun Marcum (1-2) to send a slow roller toward third.
“It was certainly well placed,” joked Hafner, aka “Pronk,” who has a section of seats in the right-field mezzanine dedicated in his honor. “It was probably a pitch that I shouldn’t have swung at.”
When the ball crept out of the infield dirt and onto the outfield grass, David Dellucci, who was on first after a leadoff broken-bat bloop single, was waved home by third-base coach Joel Skinner and scored easily to give Cleveland its ninth victory in 10 games.
“I was hoping that Skins was waving me home, and he was,” Dellucci said. “I was grunting and gasping for air.”
It wasn’t a typical RBI for Hafner, but the Indians will take it on a day when they lost a protest as well as starting pitcher Jake Westbrook. The right-hander was forced out in the second inning with tightness in his abdominal muscle and is probably headed to the disabled list.
“Hopefully it feels better tomorrow,” a downcast Westbrook said. “I felt it in the first and it just got worse with every pitch in the second. I figured that was enough and I shut it down.”
Tom Mastny (2-0), the eighth and final pitcher available to manager Eric Wedge, pitched one inning.
Earlier, the Indians had their protest denied by Major League Baseball, which ruled the umpires were within their rights to add a run for Baltimore three innings after it was waved off in the Orioles’ 7-4 win on Saturday.
The Blue Jays aren’t the first team to overplay Hafner. Tampa Bay uses four outfielders to try and stop him.
“When they do that, the only way I’m going to get a hit is to hit a home run,” he said.
Toronto manager John Gibbons decided to play the odds, daring Hafner to try to go the other way.
“I never try to hit a ground ball to third,” Hafner said, cracking up.
Gibbons praised Hafner’s ability to hit a difficult pitch.
“He’s a great hitter,” Gibbons said. “He got fooled on the pitch and still cued it down the line. He’s one of the top five hitters in the game.”
Peralta, whose statistical slide in 2006 paralleled the Indians’ decline, put Cleveland up 6-4 in the fifth with his sixth homer—and fifth in 10 games.
Victor Martinez reached on a single that caromed off the bag at second and Trot Nixon singled him to third. Garko followed with a fly to right that was dropped by Alex Rios in right-center, scoring Martinez.
Peralta then hit a 2-1 pitch that clanged off the metal railing above the left-field wall, giving him eight RBIs in two games.
Westbrook decided not to go any further after a 2-1 pitch was fouled off by Sal Fasano in the second.
Before he threw another pitch, Cleveland trainer Lonnie Soloff, Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis rushed out to check on his condition. After a brief conference, Westbrook headed to the dugout and was replaced by Fernando Cabrera.
Westbrook’s injury comes just as the Indians are about to get Cliff Lee back from the disabled list. Lee has been out since the start of training camp with a strained abdominal muscle. He’ll start Thursday’s series finale.
Cabrera pitched 2 2-3 innings before giving way for Jason Davis, who walked in two runs in the fifth inning when the Blue Jays scored three to take a 4-2 lead.
With Lee due back, the Indians will have to make at least one roster move before Thursday’s game. They’re likely to send either OF Ben Francisco or Shin Soo-Choo back to Triple-A Buffalo. … The Indians and Seattle Mariners took part in what they hope will be their final conference call to decide when and where they’ll make up the four games they had snowed out last month. “There’s been no possibility that hasn’t been discussed,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. “All scenarios have been presented by each team.”