Over the course of a Major League season, there are a handful of wins and losses for each team that can be chalked up to sheer determination (or lack thereof) and character. Today’s game demonstrated just how much heart and character this team has. There were a lot of things that went wrong today. However, the Tribe found a way to battle through some adversity and pick each other up.
The gritty win started with Zach McAllister’s effort today. In many ways, it was McAllister’s most impressive outing of the season in my opinion. No, he did not carve up the Tigers’ lineup like he did to the Athletics and Phillies in his last two starts. His stuff today wasn’t anywhere near as good as it had been during those two starts. He also had a lot of traffic on the bases throughout the day, as he allowed 8 hits and 3 BB in 6 IP. Usually this is a combination that leads to disaster against this potent Detroit lineup. However, McAllister wasn’t bothered by this and simply went out and battled for 6 innings, minimized the damage, and gave the Tribe a chance to win the game. There’s not much more to ask for given the circumstances.
The Tribe did a great job picking up Lonnie Chisenhall today as well. Chisenhall made a crucial error in the 6th, which led to Detroit’s 3rd run of the game. This actually looked like it was going to be the winning run for most the remainder of the game. It’s no secret that Chisenhall is struggling at the plate, and the error today would have probably made him feel a heck of a lot worse had the Tribe not staged their late comeback. I’m happy we were able to pick him up today, or else a lot of today’s blame would have been placed on him.
The Tribe had golden opportunities to tie the game in both the 5th and 7th innings, as they had bases loaded with one out in the 5th and runners on first and second with one out in the 7th. However the Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley both grounded into double plays to end each inning respectively, killing the rally and momentum. A lot of teams would have hung their heads on these missed opportunities, but the Tribe didn’t give up. Michael Bourn pinch hit off of Jose Valverde in the top of the ninth to draw a walk, and immediately stole second base. Then later in the inning, with the Tribe down to their last out, Brantley came up big to redeem himself by slapping a game-tying single to left off Valverde and sending the game to extra innings. Mark Reynolds has come up with some huge hits for the Tribe this season, and that trend continued in the 10th inning, as he and his hot-pink Mother’s Day shoes hit a two-out pinch-hit RBI single to give the Tribe the lead.
The Tribe had to face a final bit of adversity in the 10th inning though, as Chris Perez was unavailable today with shoulder stiffness. Terry Francona opted to go with the combination of Rich Hill and Cody Allen to get the final three outs of the game, and the duo responded brilliantly by retiring the side in order with Cody Allen earning his first big league save in the process. It was an extremely well-managed game by Terry Francona based on the moves he made, and it was an extremely gritty, hard fought win by the Tribe. These are the type of games that distinguish the type of ballclub a team is…and as of right now, it looks like we have a winning one.