Morton (7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO), who joined the Indians on a Major League rehabilitation assignment from Pittsburgh, dominated a powerful Clippers lineup full of Major League veterans, scattering six hits over 7.2 innings of work. The right handed hurler, who just last season collected 10 wins and a 3.83 ERA in a Pirates best 171.2 IP innings pitched, was making his first start in a Tribe uniform since August 23, 2010.
Though a victory looked to be well in hand for Morton and the Indians heading into the ninth with a 3-1 lead, it was not to be as Columbus plated three scores on two hits and two walks to earn the walk-off victory. After 1B Russ Canzler led off the bottom of the ninth with a base hit he would be forced out to exchange 3B Lonnie Chisenhall with him at first base with one out in the final frame.
RF Ryan Spillborghs and PH Andy LaRoche then followed with back-to-back base on balls to load the bases for pinch hitter Trevor Crowe, who reached on a force out at second that allowed Chisenhall to score. This set the stage for Petit, who after falling behind in the count 1-2, ripped the game-winning double to left, plating Spillborghs and Crowe to give the Clippers the victory.
The walk-off win spoiled three big base knocks from the Indians, including a lead-off home run off the bat of CF Starling Marte, who belted the second pitch of the game over the left-center field wall for his first career Triple-A home run. Following Marte's bomb, DH Jeff Clement continued his hot hitting ways, when he plated 2B Brian Friday with his International League leading fifth double of the season.
Clement has collected all five of his two-baggers over the last three games and continues to pace the IL in extra-base hits as well as well as doubles. Finally, after Marte and Clement gave the Indians a quick 2-0 lead in the first, RF Brandon Boggs extended the advantage with a solo shot of his own in the third.
However, the Indians power outburst was not enough as the lone blemish against Morton, an RBI double from C Matt Pagnozzi in the 2nd and the final frame flurry led Columbus to the series opening win. Suffering the loss for the Indians was closer Tim Wood (0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R,, 1 ER, 1 BB), who also blew what was the Tribe's first save chance of the season after reliever Jo-Jo Reyes (0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB) pitched the Tribe into trouble to begin the ninth.
Columbus starter Chris Seddon (4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) did not figure in the final decision thanks to the Clippers late inning heroics, which also gave reliever Frank Herrmann (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) the victory.
Indianapolis and Columbus now continue their four-game series on Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. LHP Rudy Owens is scheduled to make his first start of the season for the Indians, while the Clippers are expected to counter with RHP Zach McAllister.
The contest will be carried on WNDE 1260 AM, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones, with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:15 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- RHP Charlie Morton
(on how he felt)
"I felt great. For the most part I was in the zone. They hit some balls hard but that is not an easy lineup and I felt like when I needed to I made good pitches."
(on his success against left handers)
"The cutter was really working tonight and I was able to work the four seamer inside too. When I am able to work both those pitches in on lefties it is a pretty good formula."
(on getting back on the mound)
"I am incredibly excited to get back at it. I have been up there in Pittsburgh, but watching the game is not the same as going to work with your guys and I can't wait to get back out there with them."