CLEVELAND — The Indians have lost some tough ones lately.
Tuesday it was their turn to win a weird one. A very weird one. So weird that manager Terry Francona joked he might head right to the casino after his postgame meeting with the media.
“Full uni,” he said. “If you see anyone over there in a full uni, that’s me.”
It was such a weird game that the Indians watched closer Vinnie Pestano pitch the ninth, walk one and give up three hits — and not give up a run in a 4-3 victory.
So weird that Ubaldo Jimenez gave up two runs in one inning on two walks and two wild pitches.
So weird that the Indians gave the Royals a run with a throwing error in the eighth, then won the game on a not-so-deep sacrifice fly with the bases loaded from Michael Brantley in the eighth.
“We about did everything tonight but lose,” Francona said. “And that’s good. We were down 2-0, but it seemed like a lot more.”
Because Ervin Santana was not allowing the Indians to do much of anything, at the least hit anything hard. When Cody Allen threw away an easy first out in the eighth, the Royals led 3-1.
But Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis managed to drop hits down the right-field line, and Brantley was able to hit a pitch away for a sacrifice fly.
“It wasn’t like they were making bad pitches,” Bourn said. “Kip hit a great pitch. He did a great job of staying on it. Mine was away and I just tried to stay on it.”
Pestano then had the crazy ninth, when he admitted: “I thought I blew the game.”
A single and walk put runners on first and second.
“I figured I had outs everywhere,” Pestano said. “I was concentrating on throwing strikes.”
Pestano struck out Chris Getz, but Alex Escobar singled to right. Drew Stubbs had to run to his left and throw home across his body. The throw was to the right of the plate, but third base coach Eddie Martinez threw up the stop sign and David Lough did not see him until it was too late.
“I thought I blew the game,” Pestano said. “But they held him up.”
Lough was caught in a rundown and Pestano chased him back to third — where Mike Moustakas had advanced from first.
“I knew it was Lough’s base, but knowing the rules and having that play happen when you’re out there are two different situations,” Pestano said. “So I luckily had about seven guys shouting at me about what to do. I just chose the thing I heard twice and tagged Moustakas.”
He was joking about what he heard twice — but serious about all the players yelling at him.
Rules state the base belonged to Lough, so Moustakas could be tagged out. But when Lough briefly took his hand off the base Pestano came close to a double-play.
“Tag everybody in sight,” Francona said. “Umpire, everybody … Tag everybody. They (umpires) can figure it out.”
Pestano gave Alex Gordon a walk to load the bases, and got Eric Hosmer to ground out on a slider away for the final out.
“There’s something to be said for just playing a full nine innings,” Francona said.
The Indians needed it. After losing winnable games against Washington and Kansas City and falling into third place, the Indians were close to being staggered with another tough loss. The Indians scrapped and kept scrapping, and Pestano got a save the hard way.
“There has been some stuff that’s happened this year that’s kind of uncommon,” Pestano said. “I had a ball drop in at shortstop in Boston that cost me a couple runs. The foul ball the other night. A couple infield base hits lead to runs with two outs.
“I told the game of baseball, ‘We’re even tonight. It’s a wash.’”