The Tribe won the game and the series today against the Reds as they scratched out a 5-3 victory in 11 loooooong innings. But if there’s such a thing as a frustrating win, this contest was it.
The Indians’ first four runs came on bases-loaded walks spread across all 11 frames and, hey, we’ll take them. Reds’ ace starter Johnny Cueto was all over the place, walking a season-high 6 and throwing 94 pitches in only 4 innings. The frustration? The Tribe, staying true to form for most of the season, couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position to bust the game open.
And when the Indians did hit well enough to score, a couple of mental mistakes on the base paths prevented runs that could have stopped this game from going into extra innings. The biggest blunder came in the seventh inning with Mike Aviles on third with one out. Yan Gomes, who came in to pinch hit for Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco, smacked a hard liner to center field. Billy Hamilton made a nice play to snag the liner, which wasn’t hit that deep. But Hamilton left his feet to make the catch. Aviles didn’t stay tagged up on third to break for home immediately on the catch. And when he went back to tag, it was a beat too late when Hamilton popped up to make a throw.
Five times in 11 innings the Tribe had the bases loaded, thanks in large part to 10 (yes, 10!) free passes from the Red’s pitching staff. Yet until the final inning, they managed to manufacture only 3 runs, stranding a total of 18 runners for the game. Francisco Lindor walked in the second inning to force home the Indians’ first run. Michael Brantley followed suit in the fourth and sixth innings for the other 2 RBI. In the decisive eleventh inning, Aviles, Michael Bourn and Brandon Moss stroked consecutive singles to load the bases one more time. Gomes walked to force in the go-ahead run. Jason Kipnis (who went 2 for 4 today with two walks) smacked a sac fly for an insurance run. Lindor followed with — finally! — a single with a runner in scoring position. But Moss was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from second.
In counterpoint to the Reds’ pitching today, Carrasco hurled a gem for six innings. He struck out 6 and walked only 1 while giving up only 3 hits and 1 run on a solo homer by Eugenio Suarez. Carrasco deserved the win for this game, and would have earned it if not for the base running blunders of his teammates.
What’s more, Carrasco handled himself well at the plate. He got his first Major League hit to keep the second inning alive and open the door for the Tribe’s first run, even though he had to hustle to beat a throw to first — from right field. In his other two at-bats, Carrasco laid down sacrifice bunts to move runners over and reached base on a fielding error the second time, which kept the inning alive for a walked-in run three batters later (Brantley on his second RBI compliments of a BB).
In counterpoint to the Indians’ hitting, the Reds managed crucial two-out RBI hits in both the eighth and ninth innings to send the game into extras. Cody Allen blew the save in regulation. Marc Rzepczynski got the win. Zach McAllister got his first save of the season.
A 47-minute delay due to rain and lightning only 5 batters into the game, combined with all the pitches and walks from the Reds, made this game a time-consuming endeavor to watch. At least I got to do so from the air conditioned comfort of my home while the players sweltered in high heat and humidity. And, ultimately, I have to give the Tribe credit for hanging in there. They didn’t give up. And they captured the game and the series at the end of it all.
The Indians enjoy a day off tomorrow, then head to Milwaukee for two games against the Brewers. Playing conditions are guaranteed to be better there. I hope the Tribe’s hitting in key situations improves there, too.