CLEVELAND – A Mitch Talbot vs. Mark Buehrle matchup didn’t appear to be an ideal one for the Indians, but it worked out pretty well for the home team Friday night at Progressive Field.
Surprisingly enough, Talbot outpitched the White Sox ace, and the Indians won their second straight game, turning back Chicago, 6-2, in front of another sparse crowd (10,421 fans).
Producing Cleveland’s second straight complete game, Talbot allowed just one earned run on six hits, while striking out two, to record the first major league victory and complete game of his career.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ sagging offense struck gold against Buehrle, scoring six times off the left-hander on six hits through six innings.
“It’s awesome to get your first win in a complete game, especially against a pitcher like Mark,” said the 26-year-old Talbot, who retired eight of the last nine hitters he faced, setting the side down in order in the ninth inning.
The back-to-back complete games from David Huff (Thursday) and Talbot were the Indians’ first since Chad Ogea and Charles Nagy accomplished as much in September of 1996.
Talbot, who won one of two openings in the rotation out of spring training, began on shaky ground in his second start of the season, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base on singles and a solo home run to Paul Konerko to lead off the second inning.
But the right-hander found his groove from there, retiring 12 straight after Konerko’s fourth homer of the year and allowing just one more run the rest of the way. That run was an unearned one, thanks to Shin-Soo Choo over-running a single in the sixth from Mark Teahen that allowed Alexei Ramirez to score on the error.
“He was good with his sinker and his cutter,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta of Talbot. “He set the tone for us. He pounded the strike zone the whole night.
“He didn’t lose his composure. He showed us a lot. This guy has the stuff to compete for us every five days.”
Talbot, who was roughed up in his season debut at Detroit, was in a pinch just once throughout the outing, coming after the Choo error that left a runner on second and no outs, with Chicago trailing 3-2.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Teahen to third, Talbot retired the next two on ground balls to third base, keeping the lead intact.
“You’re going to have a couple situations in every game when you get in a jam and have to get out,” said Talbot, who was acquired this offseason in a trade with Tampa Bay for Kelly Shoppach. “I made the pitches and got out of it.”
Buehrle looked to be in control when he shut the Indians out over the first three innings and took a 1-0 lead into the fourth.
But after starting the inning by walking Jhonny Peralta and retiring the next two hitters, Buehrle allowed a game-tying single to Austin Kearns that scored Peralta, who moved to second on a wild pitch.
Cleveland second baseman Luis Valbuena followed with a two-run homer to right on an 0-1 fastball that put the Indians in front for good.
“I was excited,” said Valbuena. “The game was tied and I was looking for a fastball up and in.”
It was Valbuena’s second homer of the season, both of them coming against aces in Buehrle and Detroit’s Justin Verlander.
“(The power) is there,” Acta said of Valbuena, who hit 10 homers and 25 doubles in 103 games for the Indians last year. “We know he’s got that extra-base pop.”
The Indians broke the game open against Buehrle, scoring three times in the sixth, two on an error by third baseman Mark Teahen, who booted a grounder from catcher Lou Marson.
Asdrubal Cabrera’s double scored Marson from first to provide the final count.
Huff got the shaving cream pie in his face after his complete-game victory Thursday and returned the favor to Talbot while Talbot was conducting his postgame television interview.
In a celebratory Cleveland clubhouse after the game, Indians coaches got into the act, with first base coach Sandy Alomar hitting pitching coach Tim Belcher with the shaving cream while Belcher met with the media.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.