Martinez delivers walk-off win
Indians run streak to five games through adversity
CLEVELAND -- Much of what happened in the final four innings of Saturday's game went wrong for the Indians.David Dellucci's diving attempt to snare a Jorge Posada liner in the sixth came up short, allowing three runs to score. Jhonny Peralta was doubled off third base in the sixth, erasing a golden offensive opportunity against LaTroy Hawkins. And Victor Martinez was forced out at second on a controversial play in the eighth that led to the ejection of manager Eric Wedge. What went right, however, outweighed all of that. Because behind some resolute relief work from Jensen Lewis and Masa Kobayashi and the first walkoff RBI of Martinez's career, the Tribe toppled the Yankees again with a 4-3 victory in front of 35,765 at Progressive Field. "The only thing I can tell you is we never give up," Martinez said of the Indians, who won their fifth straight. "The only thing you can control is how you play. If you play hard, anything can happen." Plenty of noteworthy things happened in this marathon win. For starters, well, there was the starter. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers, recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take the injured Jake Westbrook's turn in the rotation, turned in an admirable outing. He showed much better command of his fastball than he had when getting battered by the Yankees and everyone else at this time last year. When he left the game with one out in the fifth, the Indians had a 3-0 lead. The Yankees had two on with less than two outs in the fourth and fifth innings, but Sowers didn't let them across. "I was able to make good pitches when I needed to," Sowers said. "I was not giving up the two-out or two-strike hit, which I did a lot last year. I kept guys on bases, as opposed to letting them score." Unfortunately for Sowers, Lewis didn't have the same luck with the three runners Sowers left behind. With two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth, the pinch-hitting Posada sent a liner to left off Lewis. Dellucci charged in on the ball and went diving for it, but the ball was just out of reach. It skipped toward the left-field wall, and Posada's bases-clearing triple had tied the game. "It was close," Dellucci said. "I gave it my best and just barely missed it." The question was whether Dellucci should have stayed back on the ball and let it drop in for a less dramatic play. Wedge wasn't sure. "It was tough for me to see with the angle [from the dugout]," Wedge said. "I'll have to take a look." Wedge hadn't seen that replay yet, but he would watch plenty of television after getting ejected in the eighth. In that inning, Martinez was aboard with a leadoff walk but Kyle Farnsworth got Ryan Garko to hit a grounder to short. Derek Jeter flipped the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano, who clearly bobbled it until his foot came off the bag. Nonetheless, umpire Derryl Cousins ruled Martinez out. A livid Wedge argued the play and was tossed. "It wasn't a very good call," Wedge said. "I don't know if [Cousins] got blocked out or what, but it wasn't a good call." Still, the Indians were very much in the game, thanks to Lewis' ability to pitch his way out of a jam in the seventh, and Kobayashi's perfect eighth. In the ninth, Kobayashi had trouble of his own, in the form of runners on the corners with one out. But Jeter hit a rocket up the middle that deflected off the mound and toward the glove of second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, who turned it into an inning-ending double play. "I don't think I could have thrown it any better to him," Jeter said. "I hit it good, and I thought it was up the middle. Sometimes you've got luck on your side, and other times you don't." The Indians had a little luck on their side when Grady Sizemore reached on a one-out single off Ross Ohlendorf in the ninth and advanced to second on Dellucci's ground-ball single to the right side. Sizemore hit second base awkwardly and twisted his ankle. But after getting looked over by trainer Lonnie Soloff for a few minutes, he was able to stay in the game. With the heart of the Tribe order coming up, Ohlendorf was forced to intentionally walk Travis Hafner to load the bases for the hot-hitting Martinez. "If I was a manager, I'd do the same thing," Martinez said. "You don't want to bring up the big Pronk with first base open." But you don't want Martinez up in this situation, either. He is, after all, riding an eight-game hitting streak. "I looked for a good pitch to hit," Martinez said. "I looked for a pitch up in the zone and tried to put a good swing on the ball." He did so on Ohlendorf's 1-2 fastball, lining it into left field for the game-winning RBI single and the ensuing pandemonium on the field. It was hard to believe Martinez, for all the success in his career, was a first-time receiver of the pummeling that comes to the provider of such last at-bat heroics. "It feels pretty good," he said with a smile. The Indians have had that feeling quite often lately. This is, inarguably, their finest stretch of a month that began disappointingly. And in a game in which little went right late, to come out with the victory was, for them, a special satisfaction. "Our guys stood up to it," Wedge said. "They kept pushing. It says a lot about the grit those young men have in that clubhouse."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.