May 23, 2012 – Vinnie Pestano Records a Strikeout in 23 Straight Appearances
2012 was a tumultuous year for the Indians. In mid-May, you could say that the fanbase was divided. The Tribe was in first place in the Central Division, but dead last in attendance. Fans had not bought in to the team after their hot start and slow decline throughout 2011.
The previous Saturday, closer Chris Perez was quoted in a post game interview saying, “Guys don’t want to come over here, and people wonder why. Why doesn’t Carlos Beltran want to come over here? Well, because of that [poor attendance] That’s part of it. It doesn’t go unnoticed — trust us. I’m not calling out the fans. It’s just how it is. … Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans.”
In fact, 22,000 filed into the ballpark for this Wednesday evening matchup with the Tigers. Both Zach McAllister and the Tiger’s Doug Fister pitched shutout baseball through the fifth inning. In the top of the 6th, Tigers center fielder Quentin Berry led off with a double. Andy Dirks drove him in with a line drive double to right field. Dirks tagged up on a long fly out by Miguel Cabrera, and was driven in on a fielder’s choice by Prince Fielder.
Travis Hafner tied the game at 2-2 with a drive to deep right field scoring Jason Kipnis.
McAllister began to struggle again in the top of the 7th, giving up back to back singles to Ramon Santiago and Gerald Laird. Matchup pitching by bullpen arms Nick Hagadone and Joe Smith got the Tribe out of the 7th unscathed.
Prince Fielder reached on a Jason Kipnis throwing error to lead off the top of the 8th. Vinny Pestano was brought in to replace Tony Sipp, who had faced only Fielder. Pestano was quickly becoming a reliable setup man, but got into a bit of trouble early in this outing when he gave up consecutive singles to load the bases.
With the bases full of Tigers, he got former Indian Jhonny Perralta to strike out swinging on three consecutive pitches. With this, Pestano made an obscure–but impressive–entry in the Indian’s franchise record book. He recorded a strikeout in twenty-three consecutive appearances.
Pestano got Ramon Santiago to ground out, and then struck out Alex Avila to end the inning. In the bottom of the 8th, the Indians manufactured two runs that would make the deadball era proud. Kipnis scored on a fielder’s choice when Travis Hafner hit once sharply to first and Prince Fielder botched the throw to the plate. Carlos Santana pushed Asdrubal Cabrera across the plate with a sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 4-2.
Chris Perez retired the Tigers in order to get his 15th save of the season. He was cheered heartily by the 22,000 in the ballpark, but remained a controversial figure throughout his stay in Cleveland. He was released at the end of the 2013 season after throwing up on the mound and having weed delivered to his dog via USPS. But he amassed 124 saves with the Tribe, achieved two All-Star appearances for some mediocre teams in need of a Firestarter.