I’ve been an Indians fan for like 55 years now, so you can take me at my word when I say I’ve seen the Indians lose baseball games in more ways than most people can imagine. But I’ve never seen them lose a game the way they lost to the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field on Wednesday evening.
The Tribe took a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning, and they gave the ball to closer Cody Allen, hoping he would do what he’s always done this season: close the game out with an Indians win. The first two Reds batters, Scooter Gennett and Tucker Barnhart, each hit singles to reach base. The next batter, Jose Peraza, tried to bunt the runners over, but first baseman Carlos Santana pounced on the bunted ball and threw to third to force Gennett out.
Billy Hamilton, who everybody acknowledges is The Fastest Runner In Baseball, then hit a routine grounder to second base. Jason Kipnis fielded the ball, threw to Francisco Lindor for the force at second. Lindor quickly threw to first for the double play to end the game. Indians win, 3-2!
But no. Reds manager Bryan Price appealed the play, claiming that Hamilton beat the throw to first. After about four or five minutes, the reviewing crew in NYC made their ruling: Hamilton was safe. The game was not over. The Reds now had runners on third and first with two outs, and the Indians still had a one-run lead.
Until Zack Cozart hit Allen’s second pitch of the at-bat to left field in front of a flummoxed Michael Brantley, who failed to catch the liner, fell down, and then lost track of where the baseball was. His failure to catch the ball tied the score at 3-3. Thinking the ball was behind him, Brantley seemed as though he thought he could will the ball into appearing where he thought it would be. By the time he finally found it, The Fastest Runner in Baseball scored the go-ahead run all the way from first base, putting the Reds ahead, 4-3.
With two out in their half of the ninth, the Indians managed to bring the tying run to third base when Kipnis walked and Lindor singled. Stepping to the plate was none other than Brantley. Could he atone for his poor defense by tying the game with a single, or better yet, getting an extra-base hit to win the game for the Tribe? He could not. Instead, he hit a weak grounder to second, and the Indians lost, 4-3. This time it was official.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer pitched a decent game, striking out six in 5 1/3 innings. His only real mistake was giving up a two-run homer to Adam Duvall in the fourth inning. Shortly after Bauer left the game in the sixth inning, the game was halted for just over two hours due to rain. The wet field surely didn’t do Brantley any favors in the ninth inning, but even so, it was his job to keep his eye on that ball. It was a tough way to lose a game they should have won.
This was Allen’s first blown save since last August. Considering how effective he’s been for as long as he has been, I can’t get mad at him. I can’t get mad at Brantley all that much, either. But I am pretty mad just the same. That’s the way baseball go.
If the weather permits, and there’s a good chance it will not, the two teams face off again in Cleveland at 6:10 PM on Thursday.