Carlos Carrasco was scratched from his start late in the day. Trevor Bauer stepped in and delivered a masterpiece on short notice, tossing seven shutout innings. The Tribe led 3-0 entering the 9th inning. All was well…and then Cody Allen took the mound.
After quickly disposing of Adam Laroche on a strikeout, what transpired next was a meltdown of epic proportions: The next seven consecutive runners would reach base (6 hits and 1 walk) capped by Melky Cabrera‘s game-winning full-count single to deep left center, sealing a huge comeback win for a White Sox offense which had been dormant for the entire game. After being shut down for eight innings, Chicago pulls off a stunning 4-3 comeback walk-off win.
Yes–“It’s still early”–but the Tribe is digging a large hole very quickly in 2015 and they are losing ugly on seemingly a daily basis. I am normally a staunch supporter of Terry Francona, but am seriously questioning his thought process late in this game. The skipper deserves considerable blame for this brutal loss. Let’s take a look at the 9th inning, step by step:
*Allen entered the 9th with an ample 1.5 days rest (pitched Saturday afternoon vs. Minnesota).
Francona inserted Michael Bourn for defensive purposes to play CF, realizing that Mike Aviles has started one game in CF his entire career. Mike Aviles is inexplicably playing center field in the 9th Inning of a close game, a time when managers rely on their best defense, especially when they have a Gold Glove-winning CF on the bench in Michael Bourn. After the game, Francona said, “I think Mikey does a good job in center”….Aviles has played CF for exactly 15 innings in his entire career.
*After striking out Adam Laroche, Allen gives up a bloop double on a nice piece of hitting by Avisail Garcia. Allen proceeds to walk Connor Gillaspie and uncork a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd & 3rd.
*Tribe Killer Alexei Ramirez hits a shot to deep center. Aviles takes a poor path to the ball which sails over his head and lands near the warning track for a 2-run double. YES, Michael Bourn catches that ball! Discussion is over. How can Francona not have Bourn in the game to patrol CF in a save situation?
*Indians still lead 3-2 with a runner on 2nd, still one out. Tyler Flowers singles to left field, placing runners on the corners.
Francona realizes Cody Allen doesn’t have it tonight after four consecutive runners reached base and has Atchison warming up in the bullpen. Cody Allen yields game-tying single to Gordan Beckham. Runners at 1st & 2nd. Still only one out.
With the game completely out of hand after five consecutive runners reached base, Francona decides to pull Allen to try to salvage extra innings for his team. Adam Eaton singles to left field to load the bases.
Francona inexplicably sticks with Cody Allen, whose pitch count is growing and whose confidence is sinking to a new low. Melky Cabrera works a great at bat to a full count, and hits a long single to deep left center to cap the win for the White Sox.
Cody Allen’s line: 0.1 IP 6 H 4 R 4 ER 1 BB 1 K 1 WP 1 Severely Crushed Self Esteem
In a gut-wrenching loss to players and fans alike, the Tribe falls to 4-8 on the young season. The Allen meltdown wastes a superb night from Trevor Bauer: 7 IP 4 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 7 K. The White Sox had just four base hits entering the 9th inning and would real off six hits (and one walk) to crush the Tribe.
The dismal blown save will be the headline, but it covers up yet another poor night for the Indians offense in which just three runs and six hits were tallied, including none after the 6th inning. Another backup catcher (Brett Hayes) homered to “highlight” the offense. Aside from TJ House, the starting pitching has been superb, yet the Indians sit at the bottom of the American League, with a record of 4-8, an offense that has many scratching their heads, and a bullpen that is struggling mightily to start the season.
With Detroit (11-2) and Kansas City (10-3) storming out the gate in 2015, the Indians had better improve quickly or the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx will become an actuality very quickly.