08/10/11 7:30 PM ET
Bullpen's 12-inning effort a perfect remedy
Tribe's entire relief corps combines to blank Tigers in gutty win
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
After a two-hour-plus rain delay knocked starter Justin Masterson out of the game after just two innings of work, the Cleveland bullpen stifled Detroit for 12 innings before the Tribe finally broke through with a game-winning run shortly before 2 a.m. ET.
Last week in Boston and Texas -- against two of the top three highest-scoring teams in the American League -- the Indians' bullpen surrendered three walk-off hits and suffered an eighth-inning implosion that cost the team Sunday's contest in Arlington.
Tuesday's dose of pitching served as the perfect remedy, and a 3-2 win in 14 innings was the result.
"That was remarkable, especially considering the way these guys had to battle in those seven games against the Red Sox and the Rangers," said Tribe manager Manny Acta. "It was unbelievable. ... For these guys to go through those guys for 12 innings, I can't say enough. It was fantastic."
The "Bullpen Mafia" combined to allow just six hits and struck out 11. The Indians' bullpen last hurled at least 12 scoreless innings in a game on Aug. 20, 1981. No AL team has blanked the opposition for that long in one contest since the Twins kept Cleveland off the board for 15 frames on Aug. 31, 1993.
Chad Durbin replaced Masterson following the lightning and heavy rain and hurled three scoreless frames. Rafael Perez worked his way out of his own jam in the sixth before Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano, Chris Perez and Joe Smith bridged the gap to long reliever Frank Herrmann, who entered in the 13th inning.
The last man standing in the Tribe 'pen, Herrmann earned the victory after tossing a pair of scoreless frames. He said the relievers fed off each other's success.
"'Don't be that guy' is the mindset. Don't give it up," said Herrmann, who said he drank "probably five Red Bulls" while waiting for his chance to toe the rubber. "You see everybody else do it, they set the tone.
"After a rough week for our bullpen, it's good to bounce back this way. They couldn't have scripted it better for us."
Fukudome's weirdest of Tribe's nine walk-offs
CLEVELAND -- Kosuke Fukudome lumbered to first base, gripping his left forearm, as a sea of his teammates came pouring out onto the field his way.
The Indians have had their share of late-game dramatics this season. This was certainly the most awkward.
Tigers reliever David Pauley plunked Fukudome in the left arm with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th inning Tuesday (technically Wednesday morning) to bring home the winning run and give the Indians their ninth walk-off win, 3-2, of the season.
After a contest that lasted nearly seven hours -- thanks to a 2-hour, 3-minute rain delay -- Fukudome's teammates mustered up the little energy they still had to mob the right fielder, who was busy attending to the stinging pain in his arm.
"I told him after the game that that's the first time ever that I've been happy that one of my players had gotten drilled," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "And he told me likewise in Japanese through his interpreter that it was the first time he was happy he got hit, too."
The Indians have recorded five walk-offs via the home run, two on singles and one on a walk. The latest episode of late-game heroics wasn't quite as dramatic.
"It was kind of anti-climactic, but I don't think anybody wanted a re-do there," said reliever Frank Herrmann, who pitched a pair of scoreless innings to earn the win. "We were all happy with it."
Fukudome's arm was still sore Wednesday, but he said the win was worth the pain.
"A win is a win," Fukudome said through his interpreter, Hiro Aoyama. Reminded that he earned the game-winning RBI for his wound, Fukudome replied, "Yeah, the hard way."
With Brantley ailing, Indians could use Choo
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo could be on the brink of returning to the Indians' lineup, and it couldn't come sooner as yet another Tribe outfielder deals with an injury.
Michael Brantley wasn't in Wednesday's lineup against the Tigers so he could rest his sore right wrist. He sat out the final two games of Cleveland's four-game set at Boston last week, and manager Manny Acta said he could ride the pine Thursday, too.
"Michael's wrist is not 100 percent," Acta said. "It's still bothering him a little bit, especially when he swings and misses."
Brantley has met with Thomas Graham, a hand specialist from the Cleveland Clinic who performed surgery on Choo's broken left thumb in late June.
"Our medical staff recommended that he gets a day off today," Acta said. "He's working through it, he saw the doctor, he's getting treatment. We have to do what's best for him and the team. A day or two off might benefit him."
Choo played for Class A Lake County on Monday and Tuesday. Acta expects him to move up to Triple-A Columbus next. He could return to the big-league club by next week.
"So far, he hasn't shown any issue with anything," Acta said. "Right now, it's about timing and reacting to pitches inside if he gets jammed, if it hurts him or not."
Choo said he hasn't felt any pain when swinging the bat or throwing the ball.
"I'm feeling better every day," Choo said.
Quote to note
"I'll rest when I die. Then I can sleep for a long time."
Indians manager Manny Acta, on how much sleep he got after the Tribe's 14-inning game against the Tigers on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning
After all seven Indians relievers took their turn against the Tigers on Tuesday night, Josh Tomlin would have been the next Indians pitcher to enter. Manager Manny Acta said Frank Herrmann, who earned the victory after holding Detroit scoreless in the 13th and 14th frames, had one inning left in him. After that, Tomlin, a starter, would have thrown for an inning or two, since it was his day to toss on the side. Had the game outlasted the limits of the Texan, third baseman Jack Hannahan would have gotten a crack at the Tigers.
"We ran a consensus in the dugout, and everybody felt it was him," Acta said.
Hannahan, who hasn't pitched since high school, said he can throw a four-seam fastball, changeup and curve. He also said he could drop down to a lower arm slot, though he admitted he wouldn't have done so had he manned the mound on Tuesday.
Former Indians third baseman Andy Marte pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Cleveland on July 29, 2010, against the Yankees, striking out outfielder Nick Swisher.
After the rain delay cut Justin Masterson's start short on Tuesday, the Indians bumped him up one day in the rotation. Masterson, who threw just 37 pitches over two innings, will start Friday against Minnesota and Tomlin will be pushed back until Saturday.
The Indians signed 43rd-round Draft pick Geoffrey Davenport, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Arkansas. Davenport posted a 3-1 record and 4.95 ERA in six appearances last season before suffering a season-ending left elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Cleveland has now agreed to terms with 23 of its 50 Draft selections.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.