The Indians really needed a win against the Royals this afternoon; they were unable to do so and lost 3-0. To make matters worse, Astros won 4-2, the Twins won 7-1, and the Angels are currently leading 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th. The Indians are now four games back of the second wild card, while the teams in front of them lost no ground. A climb that already could be described as “uphill” just became more Everest-like. With 7 games left in the season, the Indians pretty much need to go 7-0 and hope the people ahead of them falter. It would be extremely difficult for all three of those teams to tank, and the only one the Indians can defeat on their own are the Twins. They’re at the mercy of other teams in hoping for losses for the Angels and Astros.
There’s not even much to say about today’s game. Danny Salazar had a rough inning in the fourth (that could’ve ended up even worse) without an Alex Rios infield foul pop-up and a Jarrod Dyson ground-out to get out of trouble. The Royals added the third run in the bottom of the seventh off of Ryan Webb when Alex Gordon singled in Dyson. It wasn’t a terribly pitched game from the Indians standpoint, but when you only get two hits you’re not going to win many games.
And about that first hit – it started off the top of the seventh in a half inning that could only be described as “complete mess.” Francisco Lindor actually laid down a bunt single down the third base line. Usually there’s an unwritten rule in baseball that you don’t try to break up a no-hitter with a bunt, but it’s kind of a dumb rule to begin with. Plus the Royals were now on their third pitcher…it’s not like one guy was still in there trying to throw a personal no-hitter. The Indians were still alive in the wild card hunt, so they needed to try and find a way to get things going.
After Lindor bunted, Michael Brantley walked to put men on first and second with nobody out against Ryan Madson. Carlos Santana hit a deep fly ball to right field, but it stayed in the park and was caught by Alex Rios. The next batter, Lonnie Chisenhall, started the chaos of the inning. He hit a sharp line drive back to Madson, which he caught. Both Brantley and Lindor were hanging off their respective bases (by this point first and third…Lindor advanced on the Santana fly-out) when Madson threw to first to try and double-up Brantley. The throw was wide though, and Brantley was able to slip back into first by evading Eric Hosmer’s tag. While this was going on, Lindor scored.
Royals manager Ned Yost decided to challenge the play at first; an all-around bad decision on his part. It was pretty clear that Brantley was safe, and even in the worst case scenario it was probably way too close to warrant overturning the original call. The real review should’ve been on Lindor at third – he never tagged up before running home. Yost blew his challenge on the play at first, but still came back out and wanted the umpires to review the play at third. The umpires issued a crew-chief challenge, and reviewed the play at third. While they were doing this, several of the Royals players walked off the field, confident it would be overturned.
There are a few reasons this all bugged me some (despite the fact that I’m glad they got the call right in the end). Yost never should’ve wasted everyone’s time challenging the play at first; it was a little annoying that they let him make up for his mistake by reviewing the play at third anyway. By walking off the field early, it seemed like they were showing up the umpires a bit, when they were trying their best to make sure they got everything correct. (Despite the fact that Yost wasted everyone’s time by challenging the play at first).
My annoyance is essentially trivial; they got the call right in the end and ultimately it’s on the Indians that they were unable to do anything offensively today. This half inning unfolded like a fiasco though, and it really didn’t have to be that way.
The Indians now come home for four against the Twins, and three against the Red Sox. Even though the wild card ship has likely sailed, I’d at least like to see them manage to finish the year above .500. Two months ago even that seemed impossible, so it would still be a good way to salvage the season.
And hey…at least the Indians don’t have to worry about players strangling each other in the dugout, unlike one of the other teams featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this spring.