Another day, another franchise record by the wayside for the 2017 Cleveland Indians. The Tribe’s offense out-slugged the Angels’ relievers late in the game in a 6-5 win Wednesday night and the Indians stayed one step ahead of the Astros for the best record in the American League.
The win marked the 13th road victory in a row, a new franchise record. The 1995 Indians, the best Indians team that I’ve seen in my lifetime, didn’t do it. With all their dominance in going 100-44 in a strike shortened season, their longest winning streak was nine games overall, seven on the road.
Tonight’s game was deadlocked through five as Josh Tomlin and Ricky Nolasco took turns stranding runners and pitching out of trouble. A pair of doubles plated two early runs for the Indians as Jason Kipnis got his first big hit since returning from the DL to drive in Carlos Santana in the second. Giovanny Urshela doubled home another run in the fourth.
A fifth inning home run from C.J. Cron tied it at two in the fifth. It was the 21st home run allowed by Tomlin this season. Despite the record number of home runs hit overall this season, Tomlin’s home run rate is down significantly compared to last season when he allowed the third most home runs by all pitchers in both total number (36) and rate (1.9 HR/9). His rate this season is down to 1.4 and he’s nowhere near the league leaders in total allowed (defending AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has allowed 35, as has Ariel Miranda of the Mariners).
The game turned in the seventh as Francisco Lindor yanked a first pitch fastball into the center field bleachers off veteran Yusmeiro Petit to put the Tribe up 4-2, all the while yakking at catcher Martin Maldonado. Doesn’t it seem like Lindor steps up and asserts his own case for team MVP, if not league MVP, every time Jose Ramirez starts to dominate that conversation?
No matter who gets the hardware this season, I can’t imagine a better matchup of marquee infielders than a potential ALCS of Houston and Cleveland. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa vs. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor has to be the two best keystone combinations in all of baseball, and only Altuve is older than 24. Amazing.
This one almost got out of control in a messy seventh inning started by Joe Smith before old dependable Bryan Shaw came in to put out the flames and record a two-inning save to preserve the 6-5 victory. It was Shaw’s third save of the season, a new career high for him.
I’d love to expound more on the nuances of some of the late inning pitching changes, but it’s 2:30 in the morning back here in Ohio, the game was nearly four hours long, and we’ve only got a few weeks before the near-daily grind of playoff baseball starts again. I hope it’s a long October, but for now, goodnight Tribe fans.