MLB

Choo, Indians down Mariners in game shaken by quake

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Associated Press
8/23/2011 5:47:08 PM
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CLEVELAND -- Hours after shock waves from an earthquake quivered Progressive Field's upper deck, Shin-Soo Choo rocked the ballpark by himself.

Choo's three-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday gave the Cleveland Indians yet another dramatic win, 7-5 over the Seattle Mariners in the first game of a day-night doubleheader that was briefly shaken by the major earthquake on the East Coast.

Choo, who nearly missed the game following the birth of his daughter, hit the first pitch from Mariners closer Brandon League (1-5) over the wall in left, helping the Indians end a four-game losing streak and avoid falling further behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.

Choo was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, a fitting welcome for the versatile outfielder who has had a rough season on and off the field.

"As I rounded the bases, a lot of things were going through my mind," said Choo, whose wife gave birth to seven-pound Abigail on Monday. "I thought about my family, my wife, my newborn daughter. I'm not an emotional person, but it was a great feeling."

Chris Perez (3-6) got the win despite giving up a two-run double in the ninth to put the Mariners up 5-4.

If not for Choo's heroics -- Cleveland's sixth walk-off homer and 15th win in its last at-bat at home this season -- the Indians were in danger of dropping below .500 for the first time since April 3 and effectively kissing what has been an unexpected season of thrills goodbye.

Cleveland's hanging on.

Ezequiel Carrera opened the Indians' ninth with a double, and then made a baserunning blunder that could have been costly. He hesitated going to third on Asdrubal Cabrera's grounder to the right side, but second baseman Dustin Ackley's throw to third was high and Carrera was safe.

Moments later, Choo was taking a trip around the bases to savour. He's been slowed by injuries all season and he acknowledged a DUI arrest affected his play. He missed Monday's game to be with his wife, and as of late Tuesday morning he wasn't sure if he was going to play.

But with his wife's blessing, he arrived at the park 90 minutes before the first pitch. He hit the last one over the wall.

"It's like a movie," the South Korean said. "It's the first walk-off homer of my baseball career and one of the biggest. That's the perfect present, right?"

Shock waves from magnitude-5.9 earthquake centred in Virginia swayed the upper deck and press box for nearly one minute in the fourth inning.

The Mariners, who have dropped six of seven, were batting when the tremors made for some scary moments.

"My first thought was, 'That's weird, I can't move this seat,"' said Tim Hammond, who attended the game with his wife and three kids. "I thought it was the wind. I know the stadium is made to move, but I didn't know what was moving it. I was thinking maybe they blew something up on that movie set. A lot of people got up and were like 'We're out of here."'

The game was not interrupted, and the Indians reported no structural damage to the 43,000-seat ballpark.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn't feel the temblor, and none of his players noticed any shaking.

"I didn't feel anything, but I'm from California," said Seattle rookie outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

Cleveland's fading playoff hopes didn't develop any more cracks.

The Indians can thank Choo and starter Justin Masterson for that.

Masterson deserved better than a no-decision. He was two outs from becoming the first Cleveland pitcher to go nine innings this season before Perez came on and gave up Robinson's two-run double. Masterson allowed three runs, 10 hits and protected the Indians' bullpen.

Their chances slipping with every loss and injury, the Indians' day got off to a rough start when it was announced designated hitter Travis Hafner's season could be over.

Hafner may need season-ending surgery on a sprained right foot he originally injured in April. Hafner's tendon gave out Sunday when he was running out an RBI single against Detroit. Trainer Lonnie Soloff said Hafner has been fitted with a protective boot, and the team will a wait a few days before deciding if an operation is necessary.

"He will be out at least 15 days and it could be longer based on the outcome of our medical process," Soloff said.

The Indians will likely take a cautious approach with Hafner, whose career has been slowed by an assortment of injuries.

There still not sure if they'll get Grady Sizemore back. He was scheduled to do agility drills in the outfield between games and then take batting practice Wednesday. Sizemore has been sidelined since July 18 with a right knee injury.

Down 3-2, the Indians tied it in the sixth on Matt LaPorta's sacrifice fly.

The Mariners, who have been out of contention for weeks, took a 3-2 lead with a two-run fifth. Ichiro Suzuki hit an RBI single off Masterson to tie it, and scored on Franklin Gutierrez's RBI double.

Notes: The Indians and Mariners have experience with earthquakes. In 1996, their game at Seattle's Kingdome was suspended after a quake knocked tiles from the ceiling. The game was resumed the following day. ... The Mariners have lost 21 of 25 on the road. ... Cleveland has 30 come-from-behind wins. ... The Mariners will add LHP Anthony Vasquez to their roster between games to make his major league debut in the night game. ... The Indians are recalling RHP Zach McAllister to start against Vasquez. He was up earlier this season.

Shin-Soo Choo (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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