Tribe improves to 70-64
Excuse me, I need a minute. I think I'm still a little wobbly from the roller coaster.
OK, I'm good. Let's do this.
Trevor Bauer is not an easy pitcher to watch. He may be one of the more exciting pitchers to watch, given his routine and his "stuff," but easy he is not. The final thing eluding him from really starting to reach his potential has been his inability to figure out the first few innings of the game. I'm sure he will, he's too smart not to, but until then, things are a little sketchy.
Trevor loaded the bases on two singles and a walk to start off the game. Things weren't so hot. He was in a tight spot and needed some outs and they came in the form of strikeouts. He fanned Billy Butler and Salvador Perez on 5 pitches each before coming to Raul Ibanez. He managed to get Raul to go down swinging on strike 4. You might be saying, "Hey, wait a minute there, Cody. You only get three strikes!" You sure do, young reader! And that's why Mickey Callaway watched innings 2-11 from the locker room.
With two strikes, Raul tried to check his swing on a breaking ball in the dirt. The ump ruled he did, but it was clear from the replay and from the vantage point of the Indians dugout (not an exaggeration, it's a perfect view for this call) that he did not. A few choice words later, our fearless pitching coach was excused of his duties. Bauer would go on to strike out Ibanez and three more batters over 5 2/3 innings without giving up a run. He walked more than he allowed hits, 5 vs 4, but he did what he needed to get through. If he hadn't thrown so many pitches at the start, he probably would have been around longer.
The Indians would strike first in the 4th via back to back doubles from Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes, giving the Tribe a 1-0 advantage. The bats would quiet without too much threat for awhile and it looked like it might end up a 1-0 game, if the bullpen held. But, in the bottom of the 8th, the levy (read defense) broke.
Scott Atchison was on for his 2nd inning and walked Alex Gordon to lead off the frame. Everything looked like it would be OK, though, as Butler hit the ball right back to good old Uncle Scott, who threw to second base to start the double play. Except that both Jose Ramirez and Kipnis were running to cover, couldn't decide who would take the throw, and the ball bounced into center, moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd. After a strikeout to Perez and Nick Hagadone being brought on to intentionally walk Erik Kratz*, Lorenzo Cain hit a grounder to Ramirez. Some argue that he should have went home first then tried to turn two on the hitter. Maybe he should have, but I can't argue with what he did, which is go for the conventional, 6-4-3 double play. He might have had it, too, but his throw was poor and they couldn't double up Cain at 1st. They'd get out of the inning from there, but that tied the game.
The game would remain scoreless after the 9th, sending everyone into free baseball. At this point, Tito had burned through Bauer, Crockett, Atchison, Hagadone, Lee, Rzepczynski and Cody Allen. Whew, that's a mouthful. Bryan Shaw was off for the night, so that left Josh Tomlin and T.J. House, who had been summoned to the pen. But it was Tomlin from here on out.
The 10th was shaky, as the Royals loaded the bases with one out, but Tomlin managed to escape without damage. That gave the Indians a chance to strike in the 11th and strike they did. Jose Ramirez gapped one to right-center and somehow legged out a triple. With the infield drawn in, Michael Brantley chopped one over the 2nd baseman to put the Tribe up 2-1. He wasn't done. He attempted to steal 2nd, but an errant throw from Salvador Perez put him on 3rd. Carlos Santana would make it 3-1, driving Brantley in with another BABIP single of his own. And thank goodness he did.
Tomlin would be sent back out for the 11th and it was just as shaky. He got two quick outs before allowing a single to Jarrod Dyson and a double to Salvador Perez, his second off Tomlin. Now with the lead down to a single run, Tomlin went into a 9 pitch battle with Erik Kratz, which involved several long foul balls, an attempt to sell the umpire on a hit by pitch and, finally, a strike three at the knees looking.
Ballgame. Can I come out of hiding now?
*Oh, that IBB walk thing. Hagadone wasn't supposed to pitch tonight because of a sore back, but he was brought in to pitch around and eventually intentionally walk Erik Kratz. The assumption was that Francona simply wanted Ibanez out of the game, which he accomplished. It seemed foolish and, perhaps, downright insane at the time and honestly it still kind of does. But Erik Kratz was now in the ballgame. Who, you ask, struck out in the 10th and again in the 11th with the game on the line? Erik Kratz, of course. I'm not saying Terry Francona is a genius, I'm just saying...
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