August 29, 2014

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Newest Tribe reliever feeling right at home

Rookie pitcher Jensen Lewis’ baseball dreams came to life in front of his family and friends Monday night.
The one-time Medina resident made his Major League Baseball debut with the Indians, tossing 11/3 innings of scoreless relief in Cleveland’s 11-10 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Despite the Tribe coming up one run short in the end, Lewis said the evening played out just like he had long imagined it would.
“Everything was pretty much how they said it would be with your heart going 1,000 beats a minute,’’ the tall right-hander said with a chuckle. “I ran out to the mound and tried not to look up in the stands in order to keep my focus. But once I got the ball, my emotions pretty much took over.’’
Lewis did not allow a hit in his initial big league appearance, which began with two outs in the top of the sixth inning and the Indians trailing 11-2. He faced seven Chicago hitters, recording two strikeouts, three walks, one popout and one flyout on 28 pitches.
“I was proud of him,’’ said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, who promoted Lewis from Triple-A Buffalo three days earlier. “He settled things down for us in a difficult situation and he threw the ball well.’’
For the record, Lewis’ first MLB pitch was an 89-mph ball to Josh Fields, who drew a walk. He bounced back to strike out the next batter, Juan Uribe, on a high fastball.
That “K’’ ended the White Sox’s nine-run inning and earned Lewis a present when he got back into the dugout.
“(Catcher) Victor Martinez came over and gave me the baseball from my first major league strikeout,’’ a beaming Lewis said. “(Bench coach) Jeff Datz also handed me the official lineup card after the game. It’s pretty exciting to have a couple of things to give to my parents from a special night.’’
Making the occasion even more memorable, Lewis’ parents, Mike and Marianne, and both sets of his grandparents were in attendance, along with several of his friends from summer ball.
They also had taken in the Indians’ weekend series against Kansas City, but only got to see their homegrown hero sit idly in the bullpen.
All of that changed Monday, when Lewis became a part of baseball history as the 1,656th player to appear in a regular-season game with the Indians.
“For all of us, I’m just glad it didn’t take until we got to Texas (later this week),’’ he said. “It was awesome to do it here at Jacobs Field with the team I always dreamed of playing for. Talk about a storybook situation. That’s really what this was tonight.’’
Contact Brian Dulik at sports@ohio.net.