Game 86: Indians 7, Royals 3
Tribe improves to 42-44
T.J. House has pitched admirably this year for a player who was never really expected to make a single MLB start. Tonight, the offense finally rewarded him with his first ever MLB win. Congrats, T.J.!
Despite only throwing 8 pitches in the first the Royals took the early lead off a double to Lorenzo Cain, who promptly stole 3rd with Yan Gomes getting the night off, and was plated by an Eric Hosmer groundout. It wouldn't be the last run scored but, more importantly, it wouldn't be the last Eric Hosmer groundball. More on that later.
The Indians scored in spurts tonight, scoring 3 runs in both the 3rd and 5th innings, powered by the heart of the lineup. The 2-6 spots in the lineup went a combined 11 for 22, scoring 5 runs.
In the 3rd, Bourn led off with a solo HR off a pitch inside that he turned on, to tie the game. With one out, Michael Brantley singled, his second of 3 on the night. Then, with two outs, a Jason Kipnis double to the wall in left center and a Chisenhall single to left gave the Indians in a 3-1 lead.
What would become the deciding runs came from the most unlikely of places. Carlos Santana and Kipnis singled to lead off the 5th, followed promptly by a Lonnie Chisenhall walk. Bases loaded, nobody out. That sounds like a dream scenario, except Nick Swisher was at the plate. After going down 1-2 in the count, Swisher defied all logic and probability by singling to right, driving in Santana and Kipnis. David "Magic Hands" Murphy would follow with a bloop to left field to plate Chisenhall, making it 6-1 Indians.
House escaped a little trouble in the top of the 6th. After getting the first out, he yielded 3 singles in a row. Refusing to give in, House allowed a run on a ground out by Omar Infante before getting out of the inning by striking out Billy Butler. He would give up one more run on a solo shot to Danny Valencia in the 7th before giving way to Bryan Shaw to close out the inning, helped by a fantastic diving play by Mr. Magic Hands himself. House would finish with 6 2/3 IP, 3 K's, 3 ER, 9 H and no walks.
Some of the other defensive gems throughout the night were Bourn nailing Butler trying to go 1st to 3rd and Kipnis making a great diving stop in the 8th. I'd also be remiss if I didn't note Michael Brantley. While he didn't make a specific play tonight, his reputation preceded him, as Omar Infante held up at first on what looked like a sure double off the wall in left. Suffice it to say that Mr. Infante did not want to pay the price for a Dr. Smooth house call. I can't say I blame him.
The Indians would tack on another run in the 9th when Bourn scored from 2nd on a single by Brantley. It looked like the Indians would need all those runs as Cody Allen loaded the bases with nobody out. But he would escape, first with a strikeout on a high heater with a full count to Lorenzo Cain and by inducing a grounder on the first pitch to Hammy's favorite human in history, Eric Hosmer, to start a double play and end the game.
The real note out of the 9th was Bourn appearing to injure his left leg rounding 3rd. It was hard to tell what exactly happened, but my money is on his hamstring or quad, which have been giving him trouble on and off since he arrived in Cleveland. Bourn has cooled a bit since early June and if a DL stint is necessary, now might be the time to try and ride the hot hand of Tyler Holt. He would need to be added to the 40 man which shouldn't be a problem as the roster currently sits at 39 with Nyjer Morgan on the 60-day DL. Holt would be a proper CF to, most likely, backup Brantley.
But that is a worry for tomorrow. Tonight, we taste victory. And it tastes so sweet.
AL CENTRAL UPDATE: With the Indians beating the Royals and the Tigers falling to the Rays, the Indians moved up a game on both.
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