CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians slow start is clearly a thing of the past, and Friday night at Progressive Field the young Tribe again showed how far they have come since a 1-4 start with a 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
It’s not just any Rangers club they beat, it’s the two-time defending AL champion Rangers, a team that has an imposing lineup and a pitching staff that has been as good as any so far in the AL with a team ERA of 3.25.
The Indians though didn’t show signs of being intimated, as they beat up Texas starter Colby Lewis, who entered Friday with a 3-0 record and an ERA of 1.93.
They got homers from Shin-Soo Choo (1), a two-run shot, and a solo homer from Jack Hannahan (2). The key hit of the night though came in the 7th, when new Indian Johnny Damon slammed a two-run triple with two outs that made a 4-3 game into a 6-3 game.
Jeanmar Gomez matched Lewis, outpitching him by going 7 innings, allowing three runs on 8 hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He wasn’t dominant, but got out of a few jams and never allowed a good Rangers lineup to put together a big inning.
The bullpen also continued to shine, as Vinny Pestano threw a scoreless 8th, and Chris Perez entered with a three-run lead in the 9th and didn’t allow a run to earn his 10th save of 2012.
It was the 10th straight save for Perez after he blew a save chance on opening day vs the Blue Jays.
The game ended with Choo making a leaping catch at the right-field wall to snare a drive off the bat of pinch-hitter Adrian Beltre with a runner on first.
Damon, in his first home game since signing as a free agent with the Indians, went 1 for 4. His triple went over the head of Hamilton, who nearly made a sensational catch just as he crashed into the wall.
Casey Kotchman and Hannahan scored as Damon got to third base and clapped his hands after putting Cleveland ahead 6-3.
Choo’s two-run homer made it 2-0 in the second. The 414-foot drive to center snapped an 0-for-14 slump and was Choo’s first homer since August 23rd.
Texas, which had won 11 of its previous 12 games at Progressive Field, scored in the third. Mitch Moreland doubled to left and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler. Damon got turned around on Moreland’s drive and managed to get a glove on it but couldn’t hold on at the wall.
Hannahan made it 3-1 in the bottom half with his second homer, which originally appeared to be a standup triple. His drive down the right-field line caromed off the wall and by the time right fielder Nelson Cruz tracked it down, Hannahan was standing on third.
Tribe skipper Manny Acta argued and home plate umpire Dale Scott and his crew went to look at TV replays, which showed the ball hit above the yellow line atop the wall. Scott came out and signaled homer, the crowd roared, and Hannahan trotted home.
David Murphy’s RBI double in the fourth got Texas within 3-2.
The Rangers tied it in the sixth. Michael Young blooped a double to left, moved up on Murphy’s long fly ball to center and scored on Cruz’s single to left, which snapped an 0-for-14 slide.
Lewis allowed six runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings, snapping his personal six-game winning streak dating to September 9th. That was the longest active streak in the AL.
Saturday at 7:05pm it’s Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.27) for the Indians against Derek Holland (2-2, 5.13) for the Rangers.