It was such an odd night of baseball on a balmy Monday evening. Perhaps it was the result of a bit of a hangover from celebrating the city’s first major championship in five decades, I don’t know. But the “eye test” for the Tribe’s match up against the Rays in the early innings certainly was a bit misleading.
Josh Tomlin threw better than the 4-to-4 score he left after seven innings of work. And his counterpart, the sometimes dazzling southpaw Drew Smyly, often looked unhittable but got smacked around like a cheap pinata.
Tomlin began the game in a very Tomlin-esque fashion, fanning the Rays leadoff hitter Logan Forsythe on four pitches. Tampa Bay’s shortstop Brad Miller followed that up with a two-hopper that somehow skirted under second baseman Jason Kipnis’ glove. The resulting ricochet allowed Miller to advance to second. And then Evan Longoria did what Evan Longoria’s been doing the entire month of June – bashing mistakes, as he deposited a not-so-inside fastball over the left field wall. Tomlin would quietly dispatch the club’s four and five hitters, Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce, to end the inning.
Then Drew Smyly decided to hone his inner Sandy Koufax – at least for the next handful of innings.
The former Detroit lefty fanned a pair in the first inning, sitting Kipnis and Mike Napoli down on eight combined pitches, one more in the second frame, and another pair in the third inning. At one point early in the fourth inning Smyly had thrown more than 30 strikes and just 11 balls. But that’s when the Tribe bats started chipping away. Francisco Lindor hit a fliner-liner – a term we used at Baseball Info Solutions to indicated a sort of soft line drive shot – into left field. Napoli followed that up with a single of his own. Lindor would swipe third and score on a Carlos Santana fielder’s choice.
Now back to Tomlin…
The once-promising top prospect Desmond Jennings, who’s barely hitting his weight this year, roped a shot to right field – a no doubt extra-base hit. But the inexperienced Michael Martinez badly misplayed the ball and a sure-shot double turned into a leadoff three-bagger. Jennings would eventually score on an infield put-out before Tomlin would mow down the final two hitters in the inning.
The Tribe, however, would scrape out another run on an RBI base hit by Kipnis in the bottom of the inning.
And with the score settled at 3-2, Tomlin hung a get-me-over curveball to Brad Miller, which likely hasn’t landed just yet. After that, though, the Texas-born right-hander allowed only a single to Jennings over his final two innings.
Carlos Santana would push the Tribe back to within one with another dinger, his 15th of the year. And Yan Gomes would tie the score after leading off the following inning with a double and scoring on a pair of sacrifices.
Then the real fun began: Bryan Shaw, who’s looked…not so great at times this year, fanned the top of Rays’ lineup for an easy 1-2-3 eighth inning. Francisco Lindor, with his third hit of the night, slugged his eighth homerun of the year and Juan Uribe smacked his fifth dinger, a two-run shot, later in the inning, making the score 7-to-4, which was enough for Cody Allen to slam the door on the Tribe’s 39th win of the year.
A few notes: Juan Uribe’s walk up song, Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony, is so freakin’ catchy. It really is. And the Tribe’s now a season high nine games over .500.