Cleveland beats Kansas City, 5-4
Ryan Garko, like his teammates, saw no reason to panic Friday night — until he found himself in Josh Barfield’s crosshairs.
Garko’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning had just given the Indians a 5-4 victory over Kansas City at Jacobs Field. As the Indians exploded from the dugout to celebrate around Garko, however, Barfield delivered a forearm shiver that knocked him to the ground. Garko somehow emerged uninjured from the joyful melee that followed near third base.
“I mean, that’s my roommate,” Garko said. “I told him, the next time he hits a walkoff, he’d better have his head on a swivel.”
The Indians still have enthusiasm to spare, even though victories like this have become almost commonplace. Friday marked the 27th come-from-behind win this season, matching the total for all of 2006, and the 14th final at-bat victory.
The Royals had just tied the score with a run off Joe Borowski (2-3) in the top of the ninth, the third blown save in 28 chances for Cleveland’s closer.
“It comes from our manager,” Garko said. “He’s always got that never-say-die attitude. He’ll never let us quit. There’s no panic in our dugout.”
Manager Eric Wedge deflected the credit back to the players.
“Momentum doesn’t change the way they play, their mindset,” Wedge said. “They work hard and expect good things to happen. It says a lot about our guys.”
Travis Hafner belted a one-out double to right on the first pitch he saw from Zack Greinke (4-5) in the bottom of the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Mike Rouse. Jhonny Peralta was intentionally walked to bring up Garko, who had never before faced Greinke.
“He throws 100 mph, so you figure he’s going to throw you a fastball,” Garko said.
He did, and Garko’s line-drive up the middle and into center field allowed Rouse to score from second without drawing a throw.
Victor Martinez drove in two runs, Jason Michaels and Barfield one each as the teams battled to a 4-4 tie through the top of the ninth.
Indians starter Jake Westbrook was a bit uneven, walking five and allowing five hits through six innings. The Royals took a 3-1 lead in the third, but Westbrook settled in and shut out Kansas City for the next three innings.
“It took me three innings to figure out some things mechanically,” Westbrook said. “Once I did, I was able to pound the zone a little better.”
Westbrook is still looking for his first victory since April 27. Even when minor-league rehabilitation games are included, he has one win to show for 14 appearances in 2007.
“I haven’t been as sharp as I’d like,” Westbrook said. “Once I get into my routine, hopefully I’ll figure it out.”
Westbrook said he didn’t harbor any fatalistic thoughts when the Royals tied the score.
“We feel good about the guys we put out there to get the job done,” Westbrook said.
“Yeah, they just tied it up. But, shoot, we’ve got Victor and Hafner and Peralta coming up to bat. You’ve got to feel pretty good about your chances.”
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.