During the first half of the season, we saw the Indians continually falter once there were two outs in the inning. It often seemed like there was a greater likelihood of Godzilla crashing into the stadium and chilling on the home run porch, than there was of the Indians getting a clutch hit in that situation. Their scoring explosion Friday night started thanks to a few key two-out hits, coupled with some errors from the White Sox. If there’s one thing I love about the Indians right now, it’s that they’re not the same miserable, Eeyore-like team we saw earlier this year. They missed a lot of opportunities on Thursday night; they didn’t make that mistake again on Friday.
The Indians started pouring it on in the bottom of the third inning – with one out, Roberto Perez singled off of Chris Sale. Jose Ramirez was up next, and grounded to second baseman Carlos Sanchez in what was likely a double play. However, the ball somehow got past Gomez, leaving runners on first and second with one out. Francisco Lindor, the hero of Wendesday night’s game, struck out for the second out of the inning. The next batter, Mike Aviles, singled to drive home Perez; Michael Brantley then singled home Ramriez. After a Ryan Raburn walk, Carlos Santana came to the plate with the bases loaded. Santana launched one into the left field bleachers to make the score 6-0. An inning that probably should’ve ended with a double play, ended up plating 6 runs…all of which scored after two outs. Sale was charged with 0 earned runs.
Not content to stop at 6 runs, the Indians added on another 6 runs later in the game – Francisco Lindor hit a solo home run in the 7th, his 10th homer of the year (and the only earned run charged to Sale). Then in the bottom of the 8th the Indians beat up on the Chicago bullpen as they added 5 more runs via a bases-loaded walk and a number of RBI singles.
Cody Anderson had a good night on the mound. He flirted with danger at times, but still held the Sox to 1 ER on 5 hits, walking 5 and striking out 6; his only flaw a solo-home run by Melky Cabrera. He maintains his post-DL run of starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed. Zach McAllister and Ryan Webb pitched 2.1 perfect innings in relief after Anderson departed. After McAllister’s past few shaky outings, I groaned when he entered the game (even though the Indians had a solid 6-1 cushion at that point) but his command seemed better and he stayed out of trouble.
If you’re like me, you likely sigh and roll your eyes when the Indians are forced to face a left-handed pitcher. Even though they’ve had some success against Sale in the past, we’ve become programmed to expect the Indians to do poorly against lefties. Believe it or not, the Indians are actually doing a bit better against lefties this season. Perhaps it’s the addition of a few extra right-handed, and switching-hitting bats, or perhaps they’ve finally just learned to break some bad habits. They’re hitting .265/.333/.395 against left-handed pitching, and .252/.321/.397 against right-handed pitching. Lindor has incredibly good numbers from both sides of the plate – as a lefty he’s hitting .301/.335/.468 with 7 home runs, and from the right side he’s hitting .342/.393/.486 with 3 home runs.
The Oakland Athletics just came from behind to beat the Houston Astros, 4-3, meaning that the Indians now sit just three games back of the second wild card. With the Twins-Angels rain-out in Minnesota tonight, each of those teams will game a half game on Houston; the Twins are just a game out, while the Angels are two back.