I try not to be a greedy person. The Indians had already won three games against the Seattle Mariners this weekend, and were facing a tough pitcher in Hisashi Iwakuma this afternoon. Plus it was the (typically) dreaded 12:05 weekday game, which hasn’t been kind to the Indians over the past several years. So I approached today’s game with a “don’t be greedy” attitude – don’t get mad if things don’t go the Indians’ way. Don’t get mad if they’re not able to put much together against Iwakuma, or if their own pitchers happen to falter. The Indians’ pitchers did happen to falter today, particularly the bullpen triumvirate of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez – a trio that is typically very reliable. Despite that, the Indians never gave up. Their backs were against the wall, but they never relented. When Yan Gomes’ walk-off home run just seemed to keep going and going until it cleared the fence, I just stared at the television dumbfounded. This team’s incredible ability to pull victory from the jaws of defeat actually robbed me of the ability to speak momentarily. When I finally could speak again, I turned to my dog and said “that wasn’t a bunt.” (Look, she was the only person home) Yan Gomes was trying to bunt Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs over to second and third, but ended up swinging away and hit the game-winning home run. I think this could be one of those games that goes down as an instant classic.
This game went back and forth so many times, I almost forgot about today’s starter Scott Kazmir. It just wasn’t his day – he gave up two runs in the first inning, and even after the Indians were able to put up four runs on Iwakuma, he wasn’t able to keep the Mariners down. He only lasted three innings, surrendering 5 earned runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2. It was the shortest outing by an Indians starter since April 16. Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw managed to put together four scoreless, hitless innings, before the typically reliable Smith, Pestano, and Perez each gave up a home run to Seattle.
I think the Mariners may regret rubbing butter all over their gloves before the bottom of the ninth inning, because the Indians couldn’t have done this without their costly errors. The Indians had Jason Kipnis on third, and Mike Aviles (running for Nick Swisher) on first in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, down by a run. When Carlos Santana hit a weak grounder to the right side, I actually started to walk to my computer to write this recap, thinking “I won’t be greedy…this was still a good game.” I wasn’t counting on Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen completely blowing the play at first. Kipnis scored to tie the game, and now the Indians had runners at first and second with Mark Reynolds, one of the heroes of Saturday’s game, at the plate. When he struck out to end the threat, I still wasn’t deterred. The game was tied, the nearly flawless Smith was about to enter the game, and the Indians were the home team. Just hold the Mariners in the top of the tenth, and the Indians could try for a walk-off in the bottom of the inning. Once Smith surrendered a home run, I found myself asking, “do they have a second comeback in them?”
Yes, apparently they did. The Mariners also had another helpful (to the Indians) error in them as well. Seattle botched another play at first, meaning that Drew Stubbs would be safe at first on his sacrifice attempt and the Indians would have two on with nobody out. At first Yan Gomes attempted unsuccessfully to bunt, before swinging away and putting one in the left field bleachers. At first, I thought it may be caught near the wall, or if the Indians were really lucky, hit off the wall. It just seemed to keep carrying and cleared the fence and landed about five rows back. Gomes is making almost every Indians fan ask, “Lou who?” at this point.
The Tribe has now won five in a row, and three of the four games this series ended in a walk-off win. The Indians went from five games under .500 on April 28, to nine games over .500 on May 20. They are 15-4 in the month of May and have won 17 of their last 21 games.