Indians lineup makes own fireworks in victory
Chisenhall falls double shy of cycle as Tribe outlasts Reds
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com | 6/19/2012 12:31 AM ET
CIN@CLE: Chisenhall goes 3-for-4 with homer, triple
- 99 wins
- 78 wins
CLEVELAND -- There were no angry words exchanged or purpose pitches thrown. There were, on the other hand, plenty of powerful swings taken on Monday night at Progressive Field.
In the much-anticipated rematch of Indians sinkerballer Derek Lowe and the Reds, it was the respective lineups that stole the show in a 10-9 Interleague victory for Cleveland. The feud between Lowe and Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker that surfaced last week was swiftly pushed to the background.
"It's yesterday's paper," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
The only fight from the Indians (34-32), who remain in second place in the American League Central, came in the form of an outpouring of offense that overcame a rough outing by Lowe. Cleveland collected a season-high eight extra-base hits, and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall fell a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
Controversy could not be found within the visiting manager's office, where Baker did not field any Lowe-related questions after Reds public relations made it clear the topic was off-limits. At Lowe's locker after Cleveland's win, the 39-year-old pitcher also refused to toss any more fuel on last week's fire.
Lowe rolled his eyes when asked if the dispute with Baker was done.
"Holy smokes," replied the pitcher. "Yes."
That is where the postgame interview ended.
The conversation began with Lowe praising the work of the Indians' offense
"I kept digging us hole after hole after hole," said Lowe, who surrendered seven runs in five innings of work. "And we kept plugging away, finding ways to get us back in the game. That's the most important thing, getting a big win."
Following Lowe's last start on Wednesday in Cincinnati, the pitcher's performance took a backseat to his postgame comments. Lowe accused Baker of instructing Reds righty Mat Latos (also Cincinnati's starter on Monday) to throw a pitch far inside at him in the fifth inning of that game. Lowe went on to claim Baker has been doing so for the past several years.
A day later, an angered Baker stared down reporters and fired back at Lowe, admitting that he told Latos to fire the purpose pitch at the Indians starter. The specifics of the feud between Lowe and Baker are not clear, but it allegedly dates back to the pitcher's final season with the Dodgers in 2008.
On Monday night, there was no further drama on that front.
There was, however, plenty of offense.
"You could tell the way that game started that it would end up 10-9," Baker said. "I was just hoping it was in our favor. It was a big offensive night for both clubs."
Thanks to the wealth of support from the Tribe's lineup, Lowe walked away with a no-decision against the National League Central-leading Reds (38-28). As has been the case in a handful of recent trips up the hill, Lowe's sinker was flat. Cincinnati made sure he knew it and did the bulk of its damage early on, scoring five runs over the first three innings.
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto got things started by belting his 13th homer in the first (a solo shot). In the fifth inning, Brandon Phillips chipped in an RBI double to left and scored on the play when left fielder Johnny Damon misplayed a fielding attempt in foul territory.
With Votto on second, Phillips ripped a pitch down the third-base line, where it hugged the line, stayed fair and kicked off a side wall before bouncing back into left field. On the play, Damon slammed into the wall while trying to corral the baseball, falling to the ground as the ball skipped away.
"Obviously you want to make that play," Damon said. "I'm not sure what it hit. ... All of a sudden it went up against the well, and I was like, 'Oh, crap.' I committed to go get it to try and get him at second, and then unfortunately when I hit, my body kind of went numb."
Damon's misadventure mattered little in the end, considering Cleveland matched Cincinnati blow for blow.
"Our offense picked us up tonight," said closer Chris Perez, who picked up his 22nd save despite giving up one run in the ninth inning. "They swung the bats really well. They came out swinging and so did the Reds."
Against Latos (seven runs yielded in four innings), Shin-Soo Choo led off the first inning with a home run -- his sixth of the year -- and Chisenhall highlighted a three-run burst in the second with a two-run homer. Casey Kotchman contributed a two-run blast off Latos in the fourth that pushed the Indians to a short-lived 7-5 advantage.
Chisenhall, who tripled and scored in the fourth, continued his run at a cycle in the sixth, when he punctuated a two-run showing by the Tribe with an RBI single, giving the Indians a 9-7 lead. In the eighth inning, though, Chisenhall lined out to right field in his final at-bat and fell short of accomplishing the rare feat.
"That's all I was thinking about," Chisenhall said of the potential cycle. "Everybody was like, 'Anything that happens, you're going two.' If it short hops [right fielder Jay] Bruce there, gets down, I've got to go to second there. A cycle's a big deal, so you have to go after it."
The Indians were content with walking away with a drama-filled victory, and the club was happy that the drama in question did not involve Lowe and Baker.
"That was a great win," Acta said. "We really needed a win like this where we just kept coming back and fighting. Those guys just continued to put up runs on the board, and our guys just continued to get back up and get after it. This group has shown that they can do that."