Game 128: Indians 3, Astros 2
Tribe improves to 65-63
Jose Ramirez bailed out a lot of guys who didn't come through by coming through big in the bottom of the 9th.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning Lonnie Chisenhall forgot one of the basic baseball guidelines, "Never make the third out at third base" by getting nailed trying to advance an extra base on a single by Chris Dickerson. In the top of the 3rd DIckerson made a bad throw that allowed an extra run to score, putting the Indians behind 2-0. In the bottom of the 3rd the Tribe got one back and then loaded the bases, but Zach Walters lined out.
The Indians tied the game in the 4th, but that inning also began a string of 13 straight Tribe hitters to make an out. Fortunately, they weren't the only team that started going down in order inning after inning. After walking the leadoff man in the top of the 4th, Danny Salazar retired the last nine batters he faced, with four strikeouts and only one ball hit out of the infield. His night was over after six innings, but he struck out seven, and allowed only five base runners on the night. He and Carlos Carrasco have both been really encouraging of late, which may not be enough this season, but could mean very good things for 2015.
Scott Atchison came in and pitched a scoreless 7th, followed by Bryan Shaw pitching a scoreless 8th. The Tribe should have gone ahead in the bottom half of that frame, but after Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk and Jason Kipnis reached base on a misplay by Houston's Jose Altuve, and then stole a base, the Indians had runners on second and third with only one out. Walters hit into a fielder's choice though, and Mike Aviles (put into the game as a pinch hitter for yucks, I guess) then struck out, ending the threat.
Cody Allen bounced back from his rough outing on Friday (helped in part by the defense not making two errors behind him) and pitched a 1-2-3 9th, which including a pair of strikeouts.
Tyler Holt was put in as a pinch hitter to lead off the 9th (I'd rather he'd been put in as a starter eight and a half innings earlier) and singled to center field. In a rare sacrifice bunt attempt I approved of, Roberto Perez then moved Holt over to second. Next up was Michael Bourn, who worked the count and drew a walk. Both runners then moved up a base on a wild pitch, changing the complexion of Jose Ramirez's at bat, since there were suddenly a lot more ways for a run to score, and a lot fewer ways to make two outs on one play.
Ramirez hit a soft liner over the third baseman and it dropped a few feet inside the line, allowing Holt to scamper home with the game-winner.
It was another pretty crappy nigh for the offense, though they did at least put more guys on base tonight, which isn't quite the goal, but is a step closer to it. It was another night with some questionable defense, but it takes pretty spectacularly bad defense to really faze me at this point. Besides, this time of the year, a win is a win, generally speaking. This particular win keeps the Indians 5 games back of Seattle for the second Wild Card spot. I think that's the outer limit of what can be considered contention this far into the season, but for another day at least, the Indians remain in the hunt.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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