Tribe improves to 83-76
The Indians have staved off mathematical elimination for at least one more night. Though playoffs are still an extreme longshot, the Tribe managed to salvage some of its dignity regardless by avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Royals. Trevor Bauer struggled, but victory was secured thanks to solid offense and a dominant bullpen. It was also a wonderful reminder of what *has* gone right for the 2014 Tribe - namely Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes.
Trevor Bauer wasn't half bad tonight. He was more like three quarters bad. He cruised through the first inning, then was spotted an early lead thanks to a Yan Gomes three-run homer in the bottom of the frame. It's worth saying again - how good is Yan Gomes? What a total gem. But I digress. Bauer shuffled through the 2nd inning, walking a batter and hitting another but managing to work out of a jam unscathed. A similar jam in the 4th inning led to the Royals' first run of the game. Lorenzo Cain led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on a Billy Butler single. Bauer walked Alex Gordon before striking out Salvador Perez, but then loaded the bases on a truly awkward play. On a weak grounder off the bat of Omar Infante, Carlos Santana couldn't decide between charging and covering the bag, so Bauer was left to kind of stand around, and Infante reached safely. Fortunately, Bauer worked out of it without giving up another run. The 4th inning turned out to be the patented Trevor Bauer Meltdown Inning, though.
The Royals started the inning with back-to-back singles. After a flyout, they followed up with another single and a double to bring in three runs and give KC the lead. Zach McAllister was brought in to finish the inning, but the damage had already been done, and the Indians would have to work their way back. Bauer's final line of 4.1 innings with 4 ER, 3 BB, and just 2 K's is not encouraging in what was probably his final start of the season. But the offseason is long, and Trevor has a lot of time to fine-tune the significant improvements he's made in 2014.
Strangely enough, the Indians actually had some fight in them tonight. Michael Bourn was hit by a pitch to start the 5th inning, then scored on a Jose Ramirez double high off the left field wall. Michael Brantley contributed his second hit of the game - an awkwardly non-played dribbler to 2nd - then scored on a groundout from Carlos Santana that very well could have been a double play ball. That put the Indians up 5-4, and they'd add an insurance run on a David Murphy Magic Hands sac fly in the 6th. That would be all the scoring needed, thanks to a stellar performance by the bullpen. Zach McAllister contributed 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Trevor Bauer. Maybe we've got ourselves an emerging bullpen star in The Attach, eh? Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw's two remaining tendons, and Cody Allen finished the game off uneventfully, and that was that. It was a fairly unremarkable win, but it was certainly better than the alternative. Also! It's fun to (at least temporarily) stall KC's march toward a playoff spot. Now can we talk about Michael Brantley for a minute?
Brantley collected three hits on the night, bringing his season total to 199. This was his 59th multi-hit game of the year. With three games left in the season, Dr. Smooth is a virtual lock for 200 hits. Now, you can argue back and forth about how important that stat is, but it's still pretty neat to think only one other player in the league beside Brantley did it this year. Furthermore, Brantley would be the first Indian with 200 hits since Kenny Lofton in 1996. In a season that didn't finish quite like we hoped, it's still been a pleasure to watch the like of Brantley, Corey Kluber, Yan Gomes, and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Santana.
The Indians have their first off day after 30 straight games tomorrow, then finish out the season against the Rays. Let's enjoy these last three games as a glimpse into what appears to be a very bright future for these Cleveland Indians.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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