CLEVELAND (AP)—The Cleveland Indians have never considered their terrific start a surprise.
But with each dramatic victory, their fans begin to believe and even expect late-inning comebacks. Just like the one the Indians had Saturday.
“The atmosphere truly was amazing,” Tomlin said. “It gave you an adrenaline rush.”
“Homer was dealing,” Buck said. “He didn’t give us many pitches to hit. He just left one a little out over the plate.”
Buck’s first homer in an Indians uniform sent a sellout crowd of 40,631 into a frenzy as Cleveland improved baseball’s best record to 28-15—including 17-4 at Progressive Field.
“It’s amazing the energy you get in this stadium,” manager Manny Acta said. “Obviously, we love it.”
“It’s the biggest crowd I’ve pitched in front of and I could feel my heart beat,” Pestano said. “I love it. The Tribe at home, late. Seven, eight, nine (innings), we score, so hang in there because it’s a lot of fun.”
Not for the Reds, who dropped their fourth straight, matching their longest losing streak of the season.
“We got a great-pitched game and didn’t have a ton of opportunities, but didn’t capitalize on the few that we had,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “The difference was that one pitch. That’s just tough, a tough way to lose.”
For the first time in their last seven home triumphs, the Indians didn’t wait until their last at-bat to win it.
Still, the crowd was nervous when Cleveland fell behind in the top of the seventh, 1-0. The Indians, with top hitters Grady Sizemore(notes) and Travis Hafner(notes) on the disabled list, had not displayed a hint of offense.
Then, Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) opened the bottom half by grounding a single between first and second. Bailey got two quick outs before Buck, serving as the DH in place of Hafner, drove the first pitch from the right-hander over the wall in right-center for a 2-1 lead.
“We continue to find a new hero on a daily basis,” Acta said after Buck delivered in only his 12th start for Cleveland.
Signed to a minor-league contract in December, Buck won a roster spot on opening day, but was sent to Triple-A Columbus in mid-April when Sizemore came off the DL. He was recalled May 16 after Sizemore got hurt again.
“The way they have stuck with me means a lot,” Buck said. “They believe in me and it helps. Just like the fans believe and we feed off it. This is a good team. Young, yes, but there’s talent and we believe we’re going to keep winning.”
With one out, Tomlin hit Phillips with a pitch. Jay Bruce(notes) followed with a bloop single to left-center and Phillips hustled all the way to third. Second baseman Orlando Cabrera(notes) got in front of Rolen’s sharply hit ball, but in an effort to try and turn a double play, bobbled it. He recovered in time to get Rolen at first as Phillips crossed the plate.
Until then, Tomlin matched Bailey pitch for pitch. Drew Stubbs(notes) singled on the game’s first pitch, but was erased on a double play. Tomlin walked Bruce with one out in the second and didn’t allow another baserunner until Ryan Hanigan(notes) singled to start the sixth.
Tomlin became the fifth pitcher since 1919 to work at least five innings in each of his first 21 career appearances. The most recent was Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), who did it in 28 games in 2007.
Bailey was perfect for 3 2-3 innings before Shin-Soo Choo(notes) sent an opposite-field blooper to left for a single. Bailey then struck out Carlos Santana(notes) and didn’t allow another baserunner until Cabrera started the Indians’ winning rally.
The right-hander, who started this season on the disabled list with a sore pitching shoulder, struck out four over seven innings and recorded 11 outs on grounders.
Notes: Buck’s homer was his first since April 20, 2010, when he was with Oakland. … Cleveland put RHP Alex White(notes) on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right middle finger and called up RHP Josh Judy from Triple-A Columbus. … The crowd was Cleveland’s first non-opening day sellout since May. 24, 2008. All fans were given white T-shirts made to look like Choo jerseys. … Reds RHP Travis Wood(notes) pinch ran for Hanigan in the eighth. On Friday night, Wood didn’t allow a hit for 5 1-3 innings, but Cleveland scored four runs in the sixth to tie it and eventually won 5-4.