CINCINNATI -- Joe Inglett and Ryan Garko have been playing ball together for the better part of the past 2 1/2 years. It figured, then, that each player would notch his first Major League hit in the same season. But same game? And same inning? And back-to-back? No one could have figured that.
That's just the way it went down in the seventh inning Saturday night, though, as Inglett and Garko ripped consecutive doubles off Reds reliever Brian Shackelford. Thus, the back-to-back big-league breakthroughs were complete. "That's a rare thing," manager Eric Wedge said. "And both were big hits for us. That was neat." Inglett waited through six at-bats before finally getting his knock -- a looping fly ball to shallow left field that dropped in, allowing the speedy Inglett to advance all the way to second. "That's a big, big weight off my shoulders," Inglett said. "Now I can just relax and start spraying the ball like I normally do. I'm glad it only took six [at-bats] to get it out of the way. I'm absolutely thrilled about it." Garko's thrill came when he sent a screaming ground ball down the left-field line for an RBI double. Though he joked that he'd be sure to inform Inglett that his ball was rather convincingly hit harder, he said it was nice to see the achievements come in a package deal. "We've played with each other for a long time," Garko said. "It's great, because we've been through a lot together through [Double-A] Akron and [Triple-A] Buffalo. It's funny." According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time two consecutive batters notched their first big-league hit was on Sept. 2, 2002, when David Ross and Wilkin Ruan did it for the Dodgers at Arizona. All Inglett and Garko know is they're glad the shared achievement is out of the way. "It was unexpected and outstanding at the same time," Inglett said. Welcome back: Jason Michaels' rehab appearance with Triple-A Buffalo got off to a sterling start. Michaels broke a 4-4 tie by hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning of what became a 6-4 win for the Bisons in Rochester. The Indians said they hope to activate Michaels, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle suffered in New York on June 15, before Monday's game against the Yankees.
Nice start: When Rafael Perez was called up last month to replace Scott Sauerbeck on the active roster, it was expected he'd go through some of the growing pains typical for young relievers -- especially for a kid who's never pitched at the Triple-A level. Until Austin Kearns got to him with a two-run home run Saturday night, Perez hadn't allowed a run in six previous big-league appearances. "He has pitched with no fear," Wedge said of Perez. "He is very aggressive, and he fields his position tremendously." Perez is the only left-hander in the Tribe's bullpen, but he hasn't been used as a traditional situational lefty. "He's more than a situational guy," Wedge said. Closer in the making? The Indians are beginning to show their designs on right-hander Fausto Carmona possibly becoming a closer someday. Carmona, though, also remains a candidate to join the rotation in the future, too. For now, Carmona will get closing opportunities if Bob Wickman needs a rest, Wedge said. "He has a great deal of ability," Wedge said of Carmona. "You look at his intensity and focus. You can see it on the mound or in the dugout. You combine that with his stuff, and he has the toughness to go with that." Here's the question: The last time the Indians allowed three homers in one inning was against the Reds. Can you name the pitcher who gave up the three blasts? No batter, no batter: The Indians took the bat out of Jeremy Sowers' hands before he even got a chance to pick one up. Though he was on track to start the Saturday game of this three-game Interleague set at Great American Ball Park, Sowers was pushed back to Monday against the Yankees. And so any hopes Sowers was entertaining about getting to step up to the plate in a big-league game were quickly dashed. Was he disappointed? "Oh, you know us pitchers," he said with a smile. "It's the one thing we're not allowed to do, so we want to do it." Not full-time, of course. Just here and there. "I'd just like to take some BP, just to hit it as hard as I could," he said. "Just for nostalgia, more than anything." Sowers said he was an average hitter in high school in Louisville, Ky. "My brother [twin Josh, now a Blue Jays pitching prospect] and I were the best hitters on our team," he said, "but we weren't a very good hitting team." Tribe tidbits: Right fielder Franklin Gutierrez got his first start in the No. 2 spot of the order Sunday. Victor Martinez made his third start at first base, with Kelly Shoppach behind the plate. ... Left-hander Cliff Lee has won his last five decisions. ... The Indians are offering a special buy one, get one free ticket offer for military members for Tuesday's game against the Yankees. Any active or veteran military member can take advantage of the opportunity by showing a valid military ID at any Indians Team Shop or the Jacobs Field box office. And the answer is: Those with a fine short-term memory will recall that David Riske gave up three home runs in one inning of the June 25, 2005, game against the Reds. On deck: The Indians open up a four-game set against the Yankees on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Jacobs Field. Only single seats remain for the game, which will be followed by a holiday fireworks display. Sowers (0-1, 7.20 ERA) will make his second big-league start, opposite right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (8-3, 4.01 ERA).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.