Indians manager Manny Acta’s decision to call for the bunt took everyone by surprise, including Hafner and the Blue Jays. So when the Indians’ 6-foot-3, 240-pound designated hitter saw the sign from third base coach Steve Smith, he did a double take.
“You get the sign, you’re like, `Did he really just give me that?”’ Hafner said. “Then he tells you. You just have to time it right. When he starts going home, you take off. Nix put down a perfect bunt.”
“You never really expect it, especially with Hafner running at third,” Romero said. “It was smart baseball by them. It was perfectly executed.”
Hafner was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and took third on Jhonny Peralta’s(notes) double. After Matt LaPorta(notes) grounded out, Hafner broke for home on an 0-1 pitch to Nix, who bunted a fastball toward the mound. Romero got to the ball quickly and flipped it with his glove to catcher John Buck(notes). The toss fell short of the plate as Hafner slid home to break the 1-1 tie.
Nix, who joined the Indians on Friday after being claimed on waivers from the Chicago White Sox, was ready when he saw the sign.
“Anytime you get a sign like that, especially in a tight game against a tough pitcher, with a new team, it feels good,” Nix said.
Acta admitted the squeeze was a risk, but decided the gamble was worthwhile.
“It’s not a secret we don’t have an offense like the team we’re playing against,” he said. “We struggle to score runs. We went for it.”
“You never know in that situation,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “It was a good call on that side over there.”
Scoring on a squeeze gave Hafner a chance to show off his dry sense of humor.
“It’s all about speed,” he said. “If you leave too early, the defense may yell something, but when you’re fast enough, you can wait a little bit longer.”
The Blue Jays have lost six of eight.
Kerry Wood(notes) pitched the ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances. Overbay singled with two outs and pinch-runner Nick Green(notes) took second on a wild pitch, but Wood struck out Buck on a 3-2 pitch.
The win was Cleveland’s first of the season in 21 games when scoring two runs or less. The Indians’ last win when scoring two runs or less was last Aug. 6, against Minnesota, a stretch of 38 games.
Romero (6-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 1.88 ERA in his last six starts.
Westbrook gave up three straight hits with one out in the first. Jose Bautista’s(notes) double scored Alex Gonzalez(notes), who doubled. Austin Kearns’(notes) two-out single scored Carlos Santana(notes), who doubled, in the bottom of the inning.
“It was a little scary, but everything is fine,” Romero said.
The Blue Jays swept three games in Cleveland in May and had won six of their last seven in Cleveland before Monday.
NOTES: Overbay had two hits and is 6 for his last 32. … Hafner was back in the lineup after not starting in the nine games the Indians played in NL parks. He was hitless in five pinch-hit appearances on the trip. … Indians INF Jason Donald(notes) (jammed left wrist) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. … Acta said INF Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) (broken left forearm) will start taking ground balls by the end of the week.