Are you KIDDIN’ me?
On Wednesday night in Arlington, with the Indians down by a run in the ninth inning—thanks in part to an error he made—Tribe shortstop Francisco Lindor hit the first grand slam of his major league career. The blast to the seats in right field changed the score from 6-5 in favor of the Rangers to 9-6 in favor of the Tribe in less time than it took me to type this sentence. Bryan Shaw pitched a flawless ninth inning, and the American League champs are now 3-0 to start the season.
The Lindor blast was his second homer of the evening, having hit a solo shot in the sixth inning. In his five plate appearances on Wednesday, Lindor hit a single, two homers, and reached base via a walk. He scored three runs and drove in five. Yeah, that’s a pretty good day at the plate.
About that error: it came in the fifth, when Shin-Soo Choo hit what looked like a routine grounder to short. With two out and runners on first and second, Lindor could have tried to get a force out at third or at second, or he could have thrown to first base to retire the batter. With the play at second right in front of him, Lindor tried to beat the hustling Joey Gallo to second base for the force there, but Gallo got there first. The alert Lindor realized he still had a chance to retire the batter at first base, but his throw, though a good one, seemed to catch Edwin Encarnacion by surprise, and the ball got past Encarnacion, which allowed both baserunners to score and Choo to take second. A single then scored Choo, putting the Rangers up 5-3.
The Indians of several years ago would have thrown in the towel at that point, and each of the infielders would have been looking for someone to blame. But this year’s squad doesn’t have that kind of mindset. Minutes later, Lindor hit the solo homer to bring the Indians within a run.
They were down by two when they entered the ninth inning, but Texas closer Sam Dyson had another poor outing, giving up two singles and two walks before giving up the slam to Lindor. It was his second bad outing and second loss in the three-game series, and brought his ERA to a stratospheric 72.00.
Tribe starter Danny Salazar wasn’t great, allowing five runs (four of them earned), five hits, and four walks over 5 2/3 innings. But he did strike out nine batters, and if Lindor had been a mite quicker on that fifth-inning play, or had Encarnacion been better positioned, he would have gotten out of the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead.
The Indians are off on Thursday. They will travel to Arizona, where they will face the Diamondbacks for a three-game series. Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber will start. If the Tribe can take two out of three from the Diamondbacks, they’ll come to Cleveland for the home opener with a record of 5-1. Would that be nice? Are you KIDDIN’ me?