The Indians are coming home to Cleveland for one more game in this ALDS – a do-or-die Sudden Death match against those Damn Yankees. The ALDS is now tied 2-2, but more than that, it’s now tied up 1-1 in “games the away team should have won.”
The Indians are, generally, a very good defensive team. On the season, in 162 games, they allowed just 35 unearned runs, or roughly 1.25 unearned runs per week.
Tonight, they allowed six.
That’s it, recap over. See you on Wednesday.
Alas, we need to parse out the ugly details, don’t we? Well, that image above was the second Indians error of the evening, and the second by Giovanny Urshela. Both allowed runs to score.
The game started well enough, honestly. Luis Severino looked mortal compared to Tanaka (though Hercules looks mortal compared to his game three gem), and Bauer worked a clean 1st — he wasn’t dominant like in Game 1, but he was hitting his spots. There was every reason to be optimistic about this game.
Then, well, they played more baseball.
The Indians got their first hit via Jay Bruce in the top of the second, but Santana lined out, and Brantley and Chisenhall struck out. I’m only mentioning this because Brantley went 1-4 with two strikeouts and is hitting 1-11 this postseason. He doesn’t just look bad out there, he looks hopeless. Clearly, the ankle sprain was more serious than we thought. At some point, the Indians have to weigh the idea of not picking up Brantley’s $11 million dollar option and making a serious run at keeping Santana. There’s pros and cons to this, of course, and it’s best saved for later, but watching a player who never strikes out flail so hopelessly these past two games makes me think.
Anyway, onto the bottom of the second. It started off well. Greg Bird grounded out, then Starlin Castro hit a low line drive that Giovany Urshela decided to catch with the side of his leg (no, they don’t give you an out for that) and picked up his first error in the process. After a strike out of Chase Headley, everything seemed okay. Then, well… then…
Todd Frazier hit a line drive down the left field line that literally landed on the foul line, which scored Castro from first for an unearned run. Then Aaron Hicks struck out on a check swi– hahaha just kidding — the Indians did not get a call that is a strike probably 85%+ of the time, and Hicks singled to center to score Frazier for the second unearned run.
Then Brett Gardner hit a clean (if unimpressive) single up the middle to put Hicks on third base. The next batter, Aaron Judge, finally broke through with a clean double to deep left field, scoring the third and fourth unearned runs of the inning, and chasing Trevor Bauer after 1.2 frustrating innings.
Bauer’s final line: 1.2 innings, 4 Hits, 4 Runs (0 ER), 2 BB, 3 K
It looks like a bad line, and that’s because it is a bad line, but he should have been through two unscathed. Who knows how the rest of the game goes from there if his defense backs him up.
The Indians went quickly in the top of the 3rd inning.
In the bottom of the third inning Mike Clevinger came in to ostensibly provide some relief and eat some innings, but he only lasted for a mere two-thirds of a frame, after allowing another unearned run (the fifth of the game!). The story went something like this: a walk to Greg Bird (leadoff walks are almost as bad as errors) followed by a double by Starlin Castro. Clevinger struck out Chase Headley and walked (walks in innings where you’ve already walked the leadoff hitter are as bad as errors) Todd Frazier before getting Aaron Hicks to ground into a fielder’s choice that cut down Bird at home. The Indians had a chance to get out of it, and should have, but… well, Gardner hit a routine ground ball to Urshela who double clutched and air-mailed it to Santana.
Editorial Aside: I really hate questioning Tito and the Indians because they have generally done everything right this season, and especially in the last few weeks, but this game was bungled from the top-down. After being the hero in Game 2, Yan Gomes has been riding the pine in favor of Roberto Perez (why not Gomes in Game 3 if Perez was going to catch Bauer in Game 4). Worse than this, however, the Indians failed to have a plan at all for a game 4. They gave Josh Tomlin his rotation spot back and banished Clevinger to the bullpen (where he is clearly not used to performing) and then went to Bauer on short rest instead of Tomlin in a crucial Game 4.
Seriously, what is the plan there? I know Bauer was brilliant in Game 1, but we basically took one of our starters out of the equation because Tito didn’t trust him — and no, I don’t count Tomlin throwing 18 pitches three days ago as a reason why he should be removed from the gameplan for Bauer. This reeks of Tito deciding he trusted Bauer more on short rest than a rested Tomlin. I don’t blame him, but would you say the same about a rested and stretched out Clevinger? I doubt it. (End Editorial Portion)
The Indians came to life in the top of the 4th on a 2-out 2-run home run by Santana to give the good guys a glimmer of hope, and a solo home run by Roberto Perez in the top of the 5th made the score 5-3, but alas, the Indians couldn’t stop making mistakes.
Danny Salazar got through the 4th inning unscathed despite two walks (blood pressure rising), and then decided he’d like to commit an error of his own in the bottom of the 5th. Salazar induced Todd Frazier into a weak chopper right back to the mound, and despite having a lifetime to make an easy throw to Santana, Salazar uncorked an error that was about 15 feet short and 8 feet wide of first base. It was an inexplicably bad throw.
Hicks promptly grounded out to move Frazier to third, but Tyler Olson did a great job inducing a weak pop-up into short center field that
Real Outfielder Jay Bruce caught with even a modicum of forward motion that held Frazier at third Jason Kipnis, continuing to moonlight as a Center Fielder, caught flat-footed and noodle-armed the throw home too late to get Frazier.
That’s six unearned runs.
The Indians would not score again, and they’d even allow another run (earned, thankfully…?) on a Gary Sanchez bomb.
Overall, it was one of the most frustrating baseball games I’ve ever had to watch or write about, and the mistakes from this team (inside and outside of the dugout) and mind-boggling.
The Indians need Cy Kluber in a bad way on Wednesday.