One day after a ninth inning comeback fell short against the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians were back in action against The Big Apple’s “other” baseball team. Josh Tomlin was making his debut as the Tribe’s fifth starter, and the Indians would likely need a solid outing from him as they took on Matt Harvey, last season’s National League Comeback Player of the Year.
Tomlin’s day got off to a rough start as Curtis Granderson led off the top of the first inning with a home run to right field to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Tomlin retired the next three batters, but had already ensured that the Indians would be playing from behind to start the game. Meanwhile Harvey began his day by striking out the side on ten pitches in the bottom of the first.
Harvey was perfect until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Carlos Santana drew a walk with one out. Santana then stole second to give the Tribe their first threat of the day. Jose Ramirez then hit a looong double to center to tie the game at one. Juan Uribe followed that up with a single to left to score Ramirez, and the Indians, who hadn’t threatened in the slightest during the first four innings, had a 2-1 lead!
Tomlin pitched out of trouble until the top of the sixth inning, when he had to leave the game with a hamstring cramp. Jeff Manship relieved, and after Jose Ramirez threw out David Wright at second base after Wright just missed a home run off the left field wall, he retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Perhaps the Mets should have followed suit and pulled Matt Harvey, because the Indians hitters had a field day in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rajai Davis singled, stole second, and scored on a double by Jason Kipnis. Two batters later, Mike Napoli singled to center to scored Kipnis. Another walk by Carlos Santana moved Napoli to second, and he scored on a single to right by Yan Gomes. By the time the inning was over, Harvey was headed to the showers, and Rafael Montero was making his first appearance of the year for the Mets.
The Indians added onto the lead again in the bottom of the seventh, when Jason Kipnis singled and Francisco Lindor doubled just past the outstretched glove of Kevin Plawecki. After wild pitch that put Lindor on third, Napoli singled again to make it 7-1.
Zach McAllister allowed two baserunners, but pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Then came Bryan Shaw in the eighth. As good as Shaw has been the last few innings, he’s really struggling this year, coming into the game with a 16.88 ERA. Things went from bad tow worse as Curtis Granderson hit a broken bat double, David Wright walked, and Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run home run to bring the Mets to within three. After retiring Lucas Duda, Shaw gave up an absolute bomb to Neil Walker to cut the Indians’ lead to two. Shaw was sent to the showers with an ERA now at 24.30, and Cody Allen came on to try and earn a four-out save. Allen was up to the task and the Indians were able to hold on for the 7-5 victory and improve to 5-4 on the year.
While the four-run eighth inning by the Mets does seem to take a bit of the shine off today’s win, the important thing is that the Tribe won. That being said, there’s absolutely reason for concern with the way Bryan Shaw has pitched. Yes it’s early in the season, but the Indians are counting on Shaw to be their main setup man once again, and so far he’s been absolutely terrible. If he’s healthy, the best plan right now may be to only use him in games that aren’t close, although pulling him from the setup role may not be the best thing for his confidence.
It’s good to see the Indians get off to a solid start this season after relatively slow ones the last few years. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about this team that seems special in a way they haven’t been since 2007. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure would be great if I’m right. Anyways, be sure to tune in tomorrow at 1:10 as the Indians try to take the series from the Mets, and GO TRIBE!