Tribe improves to 82-74
Editor's note from Jason: Most of what follows is the recap Ryan wrote after the game was suspended three weeks ago. Scroll down beyond that and you'll find what I've added to cover the conclusion of the action.
A couple weeks ago, ESPN decreed that the August 31 game between the Royals and Indians would be counter-programming to a NASCAR race and various college football games. That meant the originally-scheduled 2:10 start would be pushed back to 8:00, turning an afternoon getaway game into ESPN(2) SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL™.
That meant the game was still being played when a massive storm came in late at night, and play was suspended.
Let's go over what was happened before the rain...
T.J. House, who has been the fifth starter for a while now, made the start. We've recently talked about who should replace House in the rotation, whether it be Zach McAllister or someone else, and that's because House, even when he's had success, has straddled a fine line between good and awful. He brought a 4.18 ERA (89 ERA+) into tonight's game, and our best hopes were that he'd go 5 or 6 innings and leave with the Indians within striking distance.
But tonight he pitched the game of his young career. After giving up an early run in the first inning, he shut down the Royals through six innings. And he had no room for error, as his entire outing was spent with his team either down one, tied, or up one. He was not only effective, but economical with his pitches, as when he left the game after seven innings he had thrown just 85 pitches.
The Indians got two early runs off Danny Duffy, with the second coming thanks to a wild pickup throw by Duffy. Those two runs seemed to have been enough, as the Indians got the game to Cody Allen, who had not blown a save in his last 17 saved opportunities. The first batter he faced was Alex Gordon, who had homered in his only career at-bat against Allen. After throwing three straight knuckle curves, Allen threw a fastball over the middle of the plate, and Gordon was ready for it. The ball landed in the fountain beyond the right-center field fence, and just like that the game was tied. Allen quickly retired the next three batters, but the damage had been done; if the Indians were to sweep the Royals, they'd have to do it in extra innings.
Royals closer Greg Holland came out to pitched the top of the tenth, as is common practice for home teams. He retired Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana, and should have retired Jason Kipnis to end the inning, but first baseman Billy Butler flubbed a weak grounder and Kipnis reached safely. It was a tricky play, as Butler would have to shovel the ball backwards to Holland at first base, but it was still an error, and it extended the inning. The Indians took advantage of it. Yan Gomes then singled up the middle, pushing Kipnis to third. Lonnie Chisenhall then pinch-hit for Mike Aviles, and after falling behind 0-2 on two nasty sliders, hooked an 0-2 slider high off the wall in the right field corner to drive home both Kipnis and Gomes.
But then the weather intervened. Seemingly seconds after the Indians took the lead, the wind started whipping around the park, catapulting numerous wrappers into the air. Roberto Perez struck out probably not having any idea where the ball was. After the inning, Kyle Crockett started to warm up, but the umpires called the tarp onto the field, anticipating a line of heavy storms. The rain showed up just after the tarp was placed, and wasn't going to let up any time soon. With the Indians needing to travel home to face the Tigers tomorrow at 4 PM, the umpires really had no choice but to declare tonight's game suspended.
The (too) exciting conclusion...
It took only nine minutes for the Indians to pick up the win, but they still managed to make us sweat things out.
Scott Atchison took the mound for the 10th, because Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw had already been used. The first hitter (Mike Moutakas, who's been way better against the Indians than he has against the rest of the league this year) hit a flare into shallow right field, which fell between Tyler Holt and Justin Sellers for a single. He was then replaces by a pinch runner who stole second on a pitch in the dirt that Eric Hosmer swung and missed on for the first out. The next man hit a sharp ground to third, which Lonnie Chisenhall fielded cleanly before looking the runner back to second and then getting the out at first.
Nori Aoki probably thought about bunting, but with two outs, he apparently decided against it, and singled to left instead, making it a 4-3 game. He was then replaced by a pinch runner, who also stole second, this time because Yan Gomes made a bad throw. At that point I'm sure I wasn't the only Tribe fan with their face in their hands, but on his 19th pitch of the inning Atchison got Omar Infante to hit an infield fly ball for the final out of the game.
The Indians are now only 2.5 games behind the Royals for the second Wild Card spot. This was also their 82nd win of the season, which assures them of a winning record for the second year in a row, which they hadn't done since 2000 and 2001.
Tonight's full game is set to begin at 7:05 ET. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy will be the starting pitchers.
Total comments: 676
Total commenters: 63