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07/23/09 5:46 PM ET
Huff shows moxie in win over Jays
Rookie leads Tribe to first road series win since June 5-7
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Between his work catching for fellow rookie David Huff and the game-deciding run he helped manufacture in the sixth inning Thursday, Chris Gimenez was instrumental in the Indians' 5-4 victory over the Jays at Rogers Centre. Perhaps he'll tell the U.S. border officials all about it. Gimenez's Indians won the game and the three-game series, but the rookie catcher lost his passport on this trip to the Great White North. He knew he'd have some explaining to do when the Indians arrive in Seattle for the upcoming weekend set. "I might be hanging out here a while," Gimenez said with a laugh. The Gilroy, Calif., native (just in case any border officials are reading this) wasn't laughing when he woke up Thursday morning and couldn't find his passport. He went into panic mode, then explained his predicament to team travel director Mike Seghi. "Seghi pretty much hates me right now," Gimenez joked. Once he got to the park, however, Gimenez had other things on his mind. Not only was he making back-to-back starts for the first time since his May 31 promotion to the bigs, he was getting the start at catcher. Gimenez had essentially been Huff's personal catcher all through the Minors, and the combination worked for the Tribe in this victory. Huff went 7 2/3 innings in which he allowed four runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts. It was a bend-but-don't-break outing for an Indians team that won a road series for the first time in nearly two months. "He was real good," manager Eric Wedge said of Huff. "David's done a good job of learning and getting better. I'm real pleased with the way he threw, and he should feel good about it." The outing, though, was not without some hiccups for Huff, who let the Jays stay in the game when he couldn't put up zeroes after the Indians struck against Jays starter Marc Rzepczynski. After Rzepczynski held them scoreless through three, the Indians took advantage of the left-hander's sudden wildness in the fourth. They loaded the bases, and Ben Francisco drew a five-pitch walk to bring home the game's first run. Huff let the Jays answer right back in the bottom of the fourth with consecutive doubles by Adam Lind and Kevin Millar, the latter of which scored a run. In the fifth, the big hit belonged to Shin-Soo Choo. He was a day late for the Korean heritage celebration at the ballpark after sitting Wednesday, but he was right on time when he ripped a two-run triple off Rzepczynski. Choo then scored on a Victor Martinez groundout. Now staked to a 4-1 lead, Huff found trouble with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Marco Scutaro doubled, and Aaron Hill ripped a two-run homer to make it 4-3. "I'm trying to win each inning," Huff said. "When the offense puts up one or two runs, it's big for me to throw up a goose egg. I didn't do that there." But Huff once again locked in after that Hill homer, and that was the difference in the game. He didn't let the big hit unravel him, and he left Vernon Wells stranded on second after a one-out double in the sixth and got Scutaro to ground into an inning-ending double play in the seventh. "You have to have short-term memory," Huff said. "When you give up a homer, you have to throw a first-pitch strike to the next guy." The Tribe took advantage of a throwing error from Jays reliever Shawn Camp to put together what turned out to be the game's deciding run. With two on, Camp attempted a pickoff throw to second, and the ball sailed into center field. Francisco moved to third and Jamey Carroll to second. Gimenez then scooted a grounder back toward Camp that was fielded and thrown to first, and Francisco scored on the play to make it 5-3. "I just have to put the ball in play in that situation any way I can," Gimenez said. "I didn't hit it hard, but, hey, sometimes you don't have to." The insurance was necessary in the eighth, when, with two out, Huff served up a solo shot to Millar to cut the lead down to one. Wedge pulled Huff, who had thrown 103 pitches, and went with Joe Smith to get the last out of the inning. In the ninth, the Jays threatened closer Kerry Wood when leadoff man Alex Rios was plunked by a breaking ball. Rios then stole third to make the situation even more prickly for Wood, who hasn't exactly gotten regular work in his role. But Wood was able to retire the next three batters for his 13th save. "This should be a good lift," Wedge said of the win. "Winning a series on the road should be a boost for these guys." When the club looks to keep the momentum going in Seattle, Gimenez hopes to be with them and not stuck on Canadian soil. "I'll let them do a strip search or whatever," Gimenez said. "Just let me in!"
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.