CLEVELAND — The Indians haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but they were partying hearty Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Trailing the White Sox by a pair of runs in the ninth inning, Cleveland tied it on a two-run home run from pinch hitter Travis Hafner before Jason Donald won it with a walk-off single in the 12th to give the Indians a 4-3 victory.
“It was a good game, man,” said interim manager Sandy Alomar, who improved to 3-2 since taking over for Manny Acta. “We were waiting for the right opportunity to put Hafner in there. We got fortunate and he hit it out. It was huge. I’m happy for him.”
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It was a historic moment in more ways than one for Hafner, who is in the final year of his contract with the team and might have played his last season for Cleveland. It was the 200th homer of Hafner’s storied but injury-plagued Indians career, and it was a significant one.
“It was pretty cool for him,” said Cleveland’s starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who didn’t get a decision but pitched well enough to win his final outing of the year, allowing just a run on four hits over six innings.
The Indians needed everything they got from Masterson, with White Sox starter Jake Peavy stymying Cleveland hitters for the majority of his eight-inning effort.
Masterson (11-15, 4.93 ERA) left with the game tied at one.
“He had a good sinker and he was trusting his slider,” Alomar Jr. said. “He kept the hitters off balance and threw a lot of ground balls. He gave us the opportunity.”
“It’s been a less-than-fun year, so let’s try to have some fun at the end,” Masterson said.
Closer Chris Perez nearly ruined the festivities, coming on in a non-save situation and allowing the Sox to take a 3-1 lead on a two-run homer from Dayan Viciedo in the ninth.
Perez, who has been a lightning rod for controversy this season, hit Tyler Flowers with a pitch three batters after the homer, connecting with Flowers hand up by his head.
White Sox players yelled at Perez from the dugout and the right-hander could be seen responding, “That wasn’t on purpose.”
“It looked bad because he gave up a home run, but he wasn’t trying to hit him,” Alomar Jr. said. “I’ve never seen CP hit someone on purpose.”
The Indians got Perez off the hook for the loss with the 12th-inning rally.
Lonnie Chisenhall started it with a one-out double off Matt Thornton before Jack Hannahan struck out to bring Donald to the plate.
Donald entered his at-bat against Nate Jones with a .193 average, but picked out a 1-1 pitch and sent a grounder into left field to score Chisenhall with the winning run.
“A heater, for sure,” Donald said when asked what pitch he was expecting from Jones. “The guy throws 98 (mph). If you look for anything else, you’re done. He left a slider up and I was able to stay on it.”
Prior to Hafner’s homer, Peavy had allowed just one hit — a solo homer to Shin-Soo Choo that gave Cleveland the first lead of the game to start the fourth inning. The homer extended Choo’s hitting streak to 12 games, which equals a career high.