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09/02/09 11:07 PM ET
Five errors add up to Tribe loss
Laffey pitches out of trouble to keep Indians in game
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Sinkerballers always need a little help from their friends. Aaron Laffey sure didn't get that help Wednesday night. Third baseman Jhonny Peralta set a career-high by committing three errors, and Luis Valbuena added one of his own, as the Indians neither defended nor hit very well in support of Laffey in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park. Asdrubal Cabrera committed the Tribe's fifth error in the eighth, with Rafael Perez on the mound. The last time a Tribe team made five errors in one game was April 22, 1998, against the White Sox. "The fact that we made five errors," said manager Eric Wedge, "and still had a chance to win the ballgame or at least tie it is pretty remarkable." And that was a credit to Laffey, who didn't have the smoothest of outings but nonetheless deserved a better fate. The run the Indians provided him off Rick Porcello in the first, when Peralta singled home Shin-Soo Choo, was all the offensive help he received in the game's first seven innings. And on the defensive end, the Indians made costly miscues. The first of those errors came in the bottom of the first. Placido Polanco was on first after a single, and Magglio Ordonez sent a bouncer in the direction of Valbuena at second. Valbuena bobbled the ball, then threw errantly to first, allowing Polanco to head to third. Miguel Cabrera then scored Polanco on a sacrifice fly to even it up at 1. Valbuena's play could have easily been ruled a double-error, but the actual double-error occurred in the fourth. With Miguel Cabrera and Marcus Thames on first, Brandon Inge hit a grounder to Peralta that the third baseman dropped, allowing Inge to reach and Cabrera to advance to third. Peralta tried to nab Marcus Thames as he streaked to second, but his throw landed in right field, allowing Cabrera to score and Thames to move to third. "He tried to do something he shouldn't have done," Wedge said of Peralta, who was not available for comment after the game. Wilkin Ramirez added a sac fly to make it 3-1. In the fifth, Peralta became the first Tribe player to commit three errors in a game since Aaron Boone did so on July 5, 2006, against the Yankees. With two out and none on, Peralta booted a Polanco grounder to his right side for his 17th error of the season. The Tigers went on to load the bases, but Laffey got out of the jam. Peralta split time between shortstop and third base during his last season in the Minors in 2004 and reacquainted himself with the hot corner in winter ball last offseason. He became a full-time third baseman back in May, and, though Wedge has often said that Peralta looks more and more comfortable at third with each passing day, this night was a sure sign that he's still a work in progress. "That's why it's important to have him out there every night," Wedge said. "Every night, he has the chance of a ball coming his way that he's never had before. He had a couple of those out there tonight." On the bright side, Peralta did make a nice grab to rob Inge of extra bases in the fifth. "It was an odd night for him," Wedge said of Peralta. "He's still learning the position." And Laffey constantly had to learn to pitch himself out of trouble in this one. Some of that trouble was his own doing, as he walked four batters in 6 1/3 innings of work. So he didn't stress over the errors. "I kind of did it to myself," Laffey said. "I walked four guys. I can't keep doing that. I kept falling behind guys, and you can't do that and have a clean inning." Still, Laffey limited the damage against him to four runs, only two of which were earned, on seven hits with three strikeouts. "He didn't give into it," Wedge said. "We didn't play well defensively at all. But Aaron's a great competitor. He still gave us a chance to win the ballgame." The Indians might have won the ballgame, had the rookie Porcello not been so locked in. After allowing that run in the first, Porcello faced the minimum in the second through seventh innings. Grady Sizemore singled in the third but was picked off first, and Asdrubal Cabrera singled in the fourth but was erased in a 6-4-3 double play that Choo hit into. "I threw a lot of four-seamers today, especially to the left-handed hitters, even to some of their right-handed hitters, trying to get them off my sinker," Porcello said. "We were trying to hit the outside corner with four-seamers and set them up." It worked. "I can't explain it," Sizemore said. "He threw a great game. You look up in the seventh, and we've only got one run and he's got 70 pitches. He was throwing strikes, and we weren't putting good swings on the ball." Travis Hafner put a good swing on a Porcello fastball in the eighth for a solo home run, but that wasn't enough. When the Tribe had runners on the corners with one out, Peralta capped a rough night by grounding into the game-ending double play.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.