Knowing nothing but the pitching matchup, you would probably not be surprised that the Indians lost this game. The Reds sent their ace, Johnny Cueto, to the mound with an ERA around 2.00, and the Indians countered with Josh Tomlin… who is not anyone’s idea of an ace. The Indians did indeed lose the game, but there was so much more to it: bad defense, weirdness, and a probable botched replay review. You look at the final score (9-2) and think “oh that’s a blowout loss,” but that’s not even half the story.
It all started in the first inning; Josh Tomlin was his usual shaky self, and allowed a double that put men on second and third. Lonnie Chisenhall, however, must have been contemplating who to draft in his Fantasy Football League at the moment the soft-toss relay came in as he booted it and allowed a run to score. In a season of awful defense, this error was particularly egregious. I joked on Twitter that Lonnie would be a good candidate for the anti-Gold Glove award, which I am dubbing the Pewter Oven Mitt.
The Indians managed to score in the bottom of the first to tie the game, thanks in large part to a double by Mike Aviles, who had just seen his OPS dip below .600 the game before. The optimistic fan might have thought at this point that the Tomlin was going to settle down and this was going to be a game, but alas.
In the top of the 2nd inning, Tomlin entered a fugue state ala Walter White in Breaking Bad and thought he was back in batting practice, as he served an absolute meatball up to Ramon Santiago for a no-doubt three run bomb. It was the first home run of Santiago’s season and the 29th in his illustrious 13-year career. Of course.
Things were mostly normal (for a losing, hopeless effort) until the bottom of the 7th inning, when the weirdest thing I have ever seen happened. With two on and no one out, Yan Gomes cranked a double off the right field wall to score Lonnie Chisenhall and send David Murphy to third. At the exact moment of the throw into the infield, however, the pitcher warming up in the pen threw a ball OVER the fence above the dugout. The two balls flew towards the infield at the same moment, and Murphy, confused, strayed from third just enough to be picked off.
Should that have been a dead ball? Probably. I’m struggling to muster much excitement about it, however. The Indians didn’t deserve to win this game, so I’m not going to lose my cool because I think the umpires made a marginally bad decision in a truly unique situation.
Besides, the umpires gave the call right back to the Tribe in the top of the 9th. After relieving Carlos Carrasco in his 4th inning of work, Kyle Crockett gave up a bases-clearing double. Brayan Pena was called out at home, even though replays conclusively showed he was safe. The call was challenged, and the umpires in New York… upheld the out call?
I have no idea. Again, I have trouble mustering much emotion about the call, though. Outside of April I’ve thought the replay system has worked very well and the review team has made the correct call in very difficult marginal situations (even situations where the call would not be overturned in the NFL due to lack of conclusive evidence). It was a weird/bad call, but it was one instance. I can live with it.
As a final note, can we please put to bed the idea that Carrasco should be back in the rotation? I love him as a reliever, but beyond my own bias, he would get continually rocked the second and third time through lineups. Tonight, sent out for four innings (and set to face batters twice), he got rocked. It’s a bad idea. Leave him in the pen.