A wise former catcher once said “It ain’t over till it’s over”. While the Cleveland Indians lost their 3-0 lead against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the fifth inning, this statement is still relevant to today’s game. The Indians dominated the first half of today’s game behind some solid hitting and a dominant first four innings by Zach McAllister. After the bottom of the fourth, it seemed that McAllister would roll for a few more innings and then hand the lead over to a bullpen that has once again been one of the strengths of the Cleveland Indians. One inning later, that vision went up in a puff of smoke.
The Tribe scored quickly off Giants starter and former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum as Michael Bourn doubled to start the game and scored on a Jason Kipnis single. In the third, Nick Swisher doubled, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a Kipnis grounder. Finally, Bourn led off the fifth with a single and scored from first on a Nick Swisher double to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. Considering the Indians had nine hits off Lincecum in his four and two-thirds innings on the mound, the damage probably should have been even worse.
McAllister was absolutely dominant through the first four innings of the game, allowing just one hit and retiring twelve men in a row at one point. Through four innings, McAllister had only thrown 42 pitches and the game seemed well in hand. Then in the fifth, the wheels completely came off. Michael Morse led off the inning with a single. McAllister retired the next batter, but Brandon Crawford singled and Brandon Hicks walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco then singled to right and Angel Pagan hit a sacrifice fly to score to narrow the Tribe’s lead to 3-2. Hunter Pence then hit a single under the glove of Jason Kipnis to score Hicks and Blanco and give the Giants a 4-3 lead. Buster Posey hit a solo home run in the sixth to make it 5-3, and the score stayed the same the rest of the way as the Giants won their second game in the three-game series that ends tomorrow.
This was a game of missed opportunities for the Tribe, whether it was not truly taking advantage of Lincecum’s poor pitching or Kipnis not simply knocking Pence’s hit down to save a run, the Indians missed several opportunities to keep control of the game. Doing the little things well was a big part of the Indians’ success last year and hopefully they can get back into that kind of groove soon. While today’s game was frustrating, they actually have the same record this year as they did through twenty-four games last year, so there is no reason to panic. Yet.