But Blake's offensive outburst was merely the catalyst, not the clincher, in the Indians' 13-9
win over the Rangers on a typically muggy night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
On most nights, the seven runs Blake drove in with two-run homers in the second and third
innings and a three-run double in the fourth would have been plenty of support for the Tribe's
Of course, the Texas heat is no ordinary weather, and the hitter-friendly confines of this
facility often make for some unusual evenings, as starter Aaron Laffey found out.
It was Laffey's shaky outing, in which he coughed up the 8-3 lead afforded him by Blake's
burst, that compelled the Indians' bats to wake up from their slumber and close this one out
late, with two-run blasts from Ben Francisco and David Dellucci finally putting it away.
By the time the three-hour, 41-minute affair was over, manager Eric Wedge, overwhelmed by
offensive fireworks rarely seen from this club, could only wipe his brow and breathe a sigh of
"That," Wedge said, "was a long ballgame."
It began in earnest when Blake came up with Dellucci on second and none out in the second
inning. All Blake was looking to do was move the runner over to third. Instead, he slapped a fly
ball to right-center field that kept carrying and crept over the wall.
"[Mathis] threw me a slider, I went with it, and it went into that jet stream," Blake said.
"It just gives you confidence."
Blake carried that confidence into the third inning, when he came up one on and two out and
worked himself into a 3-0 count against Mathis. Rather than taking, Blake was hacking. He
deposited Mathis' fastball over the out-of-town scoreboard in left for his second two-run blast
of the night.
"I figured, 'Why not be aggressive?'" Blake said. "It was a 3-0 fastball, middle in.
Everyone gets amped up when it's a 3-0 count. I tried to stay as relaxed as I could."
Perhaps Blake's stomach began to relax after those homers, because he looked quite
comfortable against Mathis in the fifth. This time, he came up with the bases loaded and two
out. He ripped a 3-2 pitch down the right-field line to bring everybody home on a double and
knock Mathis out of the game.
It all added up to quite a night for Blake, who has nine hits, three homers and nine
RBIs in his last 24 at-bats.
"Casey's been hitting the ball really well," Dellucci said. "He always gives you good
at-bats. Tonight he was able to find holes."
But it wasn't difficult to find holes in Laffey's performance. He did not pitch well with
the five-run lead in his back pocket. In the fifth, Laffey gave up a leadoff double to Ian
Kinsler, who then came around and scored on a Michael Young single. The Rangers loaded the bases
on a base hit from Josh Hamilton and a Milton Bradley walk.
"I went back and looked at the video of the fifth inning," Laffey said. "It looked like, on
all the base hits, I didn't make a bad pitch."
But Laffey did, definitively, make a bad pitch to Marlon Byrd with two out. It was a flat,
first-pitch sinker that Byrd turned into a game-tying grand slam, and it was the pitch that
would define Laffey's first rough start of the season.
"It was just one of those days," Laffey said. "Everything came out of the box tonight."
Luckily for Laffey, hits kept coming out for the Tribe as well.
In the seventh, with one on and two out, the Rangers brought in Joaquin Benoit to face
Francisco, and one pitch was all it took for Francisco to pound a two-run homer to left.
An inning later, Benoit gave up a one-out double to Jhonny Peralta, followed immediately by
Dellucci's two-run shot to center. Benoit went on to walk four batters in succession to bring
home yet another run.
"It was good to keep it going," Wedge said of the offense. "You could feel it. You knew we
had to keep scoring."
Scoring hasn't exactly been the Indians' specialty this season. But Blake set the tone early, and the rest of the bats followed suit.
"I was proud of the way we kept adding on," Blake said. "It was nice to pick up the
pitchers. They've been picking us up all year. This can only help our confidence. That's what
this game is all about."
And sometimes it's all about performing even when your stomach is upset.
"Hopefully," Blake said with a smile, "I'll feel the same way tomorrow."