With the Indians opening a series against the Twins, I figured this game would be an easy win. Yes, the Indians won, but having to climb out of a five run hole before the first inning ended made this win anything but easy.
Silly me, I thought Trevor Bauer had turned a corner after going 8 solid innings last time out. Instead, he was his usual self, struggling early before settling down later on. Of course, Bauer needed to finish the first inning before he could settle down, and that almost didn’t happen. The first five Twins hitters scored before an out was made, capped off by a 3-run jack by Oswaldo Arcia. That said, once he recorded an out, Bauer retired 14 consecutive Twins hitters. It was like a new pitcher entered the game after the first five Twins pretended it was still batting practice. A fifth inning walk to Brian Dozier ended both Bauer’s streak and his start, with Crockett entering the game to make the final out of the inning.
The Indians make Kyle Gibson work to keep a lead, clawing their way back starting with a Yan Gomes homer in inning number two. In the fourth, Gomes and Jason Kipnis scored on a Zach Walters RBI single that cut the lead to 5-3. In the following inning, Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 5-4. Gibson left the game in position to get the win as long as his bullpen could keep a one run lead.
Spoiler alert: the Twins bullpen failed to finish the 6th inning without blowing their lead. Brian Duensing gave pinch hitter Tyler Holt a meatball that the recently recalled outfielder crushed off the wall for two RBIs. Bourn followed Holt with an RBI single that doubled the Tribe’s lead. Stretch time arrived rather quickly once the Tribe rally had concluded, with a cameo appearance from the newly extended Scott Atchison and Carlos Santana getting picked off at first base.
Then came the cavalcade of relievers, with Marc Rzepczynski, C.C. Lee, and Nick Hagadone combining to pitch the bottom of the seventh. As if that was not enough, Terry Francona had Bryan Shaw get the final out of the 8th inning; he threw two pitches and Trevor Plouffe grounded out. Then Cody Allen sent the Target Field crowd home disappointed as he got the game’s final three outs. To contrast, Ron Gardenhire used just four relievers, all of them getting multiple outs before ceding the mound to another teammate.
The Indians improve to 63-61, with Crockett getting the win and improving to 3-0. Duensing took the loss for the Minnesota, falling to 3-3. Allen got his 16th save as the eights pitcher to enter the game; every reliever between him and Crockett (five of them!) got a hold.
According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, this is only the second non-September 9 inning game in franchise history where the team used at least 8 pitchers. The other occurence was a 9-8 win over the Detroit Tigers on May 14, 1958. Hoyt Wilhelm started for the Indians and Mudcat Grant got the save. Roger Maris hit two home runs in the win.