Choo and Reyes can't save Tribe
Contested play in 10th helps Mariners get to Indians' Lewis
CLEVELAND -- Eric Wedge thought the ball hit Adrian Beltre in the hand. Jhonny Peralta thought it hit him in the chest. Jensen Lewis believed it hit him in the side.The Indians might have disagreed on the location, but they all agreed on the end result. They felt robbed of an out in the top of the 10th inning Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field, and it's an out that would have gone a long way toward preventing their 4-3 loss to the Mariners. It was a 3-2 game in the top of the 10th when Jose Lopez, facing Lewis, hit a bouncing grounder to short that hit Beltre, who was running from second to third. Beltre momentarily stopped his stride before getting hit. Whether he did so to try to avoid contact with the ball or to purposefully get hit is a subject of controversy. Wedge argued the latter, which, by rule, would have resulted in an automatic double play to end the inning. But the umpires disagreed, and Wedge was ejected. "[Beltre] stopped, put his hand up and intentionally hit the baseball," Wedge said. "If that's the case, it's an automatic double play. And that's what it should have been." Instead, Lewis still had two on with two out. And when Jamie Burke singled home an insurance run, it was the run that proved to be the Indians' demise in a game that was tight throughout. Anthony Reyes and Jarrod Washburn set the tone when they became embroiled in a pitchers' duel that lasted into the late innings. Reyes was the only one to blink, serving up a Tug Hulett solo homer in the third. That was the only run Reyes allowed in seven strong innings of work. "Anthony was fantastic," Wedge said. "That's as good as we've seen him, and he's been really good for us." The Tribe offense was simply not as good. At least, not against Washburn, who held them scoreless for 6 2/3 innings and hitless from the second inning on. The Indians' lone opportunity against Washburn was thwarted in the second inning, when Kelly Shoppach was gunned down at home while trying to score on a Shin-Soo Choo double. And when reliever Rafael Betancourt let the M's tack on an insurance run in the eighth to make it 2-0, the lead seemed insurmountable, given all that had transpired. But the Indians found a way to answer in the ninth. With Mariners closer J.J. Putz on the mound, Ryan Garko singled, and Choo turned a 3-2 fastball into a majestic shot to center for the game-tying, two-run homer. It was quite a clutch poke for Choo, who has reached base safely in 20 straight games and obviously made a complete recovery from last year's Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow. "This guy didn't play baseball for a long time," Wedge said of Choo. "He had to fight through surgery and rehab. What he's done this year is outstanding." But Choo couldn't help the Tribe in the 10th, when the 2-2 tie quickly fell apart. Lewis, who had a 1.84 ERA over his last 13 appearances, walked leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki. A fielder's choice and a Beltre single left two on with one out. "The leadoff walk to Ichiro, I didn't hit my spots," Lewis said. "After that, I thought we did a better job." Lewis got the potential inning-ending double play ball he wanted when Lopez sent that bouncer to short. Peralta was in position to field the ball, but when it struck Beltre, it ricocheted into the outfield. Beltre was ruled out, but the other runners stayed. "I think the umpire was wrong there," Peralta said. "The umpire needs to call a double play in that situation." Rule 7.09(f) states that if a runner deliberately interferes with a batted ball with the intent of breaking up a double play, the runner and the batter must both be ruled out. Beltre didn't talk to reporters after the game, but Mariners manager Jim Riggleman offered his two cents. "On ground balls, you can't assume the double play," Riggleman said, "so I don't know where you could assume the double play. Nobody's eyes are working that quick to know, unless it's extremely obvious." What is obvious is that Lewis was in a jam. And when he served up that Burke single, it came back to haunt him and the Tribe. In the bottom of the 10th, Peralta knocked in Grady Sizemore with a single, but it was too little, too late. Had that second run not scored in the top of the 10th, it might have been a different story. "The circumstances led to another run," Lewis said, "and that's unfortunate."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.