CLEVELAND – Talk about a cruel fate.
Jeanmar Gomez was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to make a spot start Sunday in the series finale with Detroit.
Pitching brilliantly in his major league debut, the 22-year-old right-hander helped the Indians to a sweep-clinching 7-2 victory over the Central Division-contending Tigers.
His reward? A trip back to the minors.
“It’s too bad but he’s going back,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “He knew it. It was a great experience for him.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better. This kid was lights out, especially for the first time in the big leagues. He just came in and threw strikes and had very good command of both sides of the plate.”
Gomez outpitched Vermilion native Andy Oliver, allowing a pair of unearned runs on five hits, while striking out four over seven innings, as the Indians completed their first four-game sweep of the Tigers in Cleveland since 1991.
It was a surprising sight on a number of fronts for Gomez, who has been inconsistent at Columbus this season, owning a 6-8 record and 5.70 ERA in 18 starts for the Clippers.
“Everything was good from the first inning on,” said Gomez of his arsenal of pitches, which included two-seam (sinker) and four-seam fastballs, a changeup and slider.
Gomez didn’t allow a run through the first five innings and just three hits, while his offense built a 5-0 lead on Oliver and the Tigers. He surrendered two unearned runs in the sixth, then came back to retire the side in order during his final inning of work in the seventh.
All that, and he’s still going down.
Gomez knew he was being promoted for a spot start and nothing else, no matter how well he pitched. He was prepared when Acta approached him before the game, holding his plane ticket out of Cleveland as he spoke to the manager.
“It’s OK,” said Gomez, whose family watched the game on television from his grandmother’s house in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. “I will just keep working down (in Columbus).”
“He was fine with it,” Acta said. “He relished the opportunity.”
Oliver couldn’t have relished his first appearance in front of a hometown crowd at a park he grew up watching the Indians play.
The 22-year-old left-hander allowed three runs in the opening inning and was gone before the fifth, surrendering five runs on four hits and five walks over 3 2/3 innings.
The Indians scored their three runs in the first via the rarest of occurrences, an inside-the-park home run from possibly the slowest position player on the club – Jhonny Peralta.
Peralta connected on an Oliver pitch and sent it deep to center field, where Ryan Raburn had a bead on the drive before crashing through Cleveland’s bullpen door, as the ball ricocheted back toward the infield.
Peralta, who was in the lineup for the first time in four games following a bout with the flu, motored around third and scored easily on a high relay throw to the plate.
“When I saw that he jumped into the wall, I tried to run really fast,” Peralta said. “It was really hard because I’m sick.”
It was Cleveland’s sixth inside-the-park homer at Progressive Field and the first since Grady Sizemore’s against Baltimore in April of 2007. According to Peralta, it was his first inside-the-park homer on any level, including little league.
Up 5-2, the Indians scored a run apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to put the game away. An RBI triple from Matt LaPorta scored the run in the seventh, while a two-out single from Jayson Nix plated Cleveland’s final run.
It was the Indians’ second four-game sweep of the season after they accomplished the feat for the first time during a visit from Toronto on June 28-30, July 1.
“Overall, it was a great series,” Acta said. “I thought this was even better than the Blue Jays series because the games were closer and we pitched better.
“It was pretty impressive by our kids, the fact that we swept a team that has been on top of our division and a team that is probably going to be battling for the top spot the rest of the year. Our kids deserve a lot of credit.”
None more than Gomez.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.