Indians improve to 7-13
The Indians last won a game on April 24th, five days ago, but it's felt like two weeks. The four-game losing had come at the hands of division rivals Detroit and Kansas City, and a loss tonight could mean that the team would fall 7.5 games behind the Tigers and 7 games behind the Royals. All the games against AL Central rivals in April could have led to a fast start for the Indians, but instead they entered the night in a very precarious position, even this early in the season.
They still have a massive divisional hole to climb out, but at least for one night they stopped digging. It wasn't an easy victory by any means, from once again letting the opposition score first, to giving up the lead in the sixth, to allowing the tying run to reach base in the ninth, but they pulled it off.
Danny Salazar, who has been a completely different pitcher than the one we saw in Arizona (and that's a good thing) made the start for the Indians. The night before the bullpen was battered, so a start deep into the game was required for the team to have any chance of winning. The way Salazar started was inauspicious, though; the Royals jumped on his fastball, and had runners on second and third with one out thanks to two singles and weak groundout. Danny had BABIP on his side when Eric Hosmer lined a fastball right at Jason Kipnis, but Kendrys Morales made up for the out by driving home two runs a single up the middle.
Here we go again.
The Indians trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third. They were facing flamethrower Yordano Ventura, who has a brief reprieve from a 7-game suspension thanks to an appeal. Two hitters mired in lengthy slumps got the inning going; Roberto Perez started what would be a fantastic night at the plate by singling to left, and Michael Bourn, who has been the poorest of a lineup full of poor hitters, singled to right. Jason Kipnis started his at-bat intending to bunt, but after getting ahead in the count 2-0, swung away and connected on a Ventura fastball. Just like that the Indians had taken the lead on Kipnis' first home run of the season.
There was a scary scene in the fifth inning. Danny Salazar hit Alcides Escobar on the helmet with a 96-mile per hour fastball. Thankfully the ball hit the ear flap of the helmet and not Escobar's cheek; Escobar did leave the game, but the Royals shortstop should not miss much time.
The Royals re-took the lead in the sixth, when Eric Hosmer blasted a home run over the wall in left-center field. Given the relative stengths of the teams' bullpens, a Royals lead of any size meant a distinct disadvantage for the Indians, and with Salazar approaching his pitch limit, they'd be getting into a bullpen battle very soon.
Here we go ahead.
But again the Indians got some offense from the same unexpected sources. Lonnie Chisenhall, another member of the slump club, doubled with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Then Roberto Perez doubled, tying the game at 4. But they weren't done yet. Michael Bourn greeted Franklin Morales with a double that plated Perez, then went to third when Morales uncorked a wild pitch in the next at-bat. Bourn would score on a Kipnis dribbler down the first base line, and the Indians now had a two-run lead. They'd tack on another run when Roberto Perez capped his outstanding night at the plate with an opposite field solo home run.
The Indians were very thin in the bullpen after last night's late-inning meltdown, so the two innings Zach McAllister provided were just what they needed. McAllister allowed just one hit in two innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, and so the Indians led by three going into the ninth.
On came Cody Allen, who has struggled all season. His velocity is still very good, but opposing batters seem to be seeing his pitches much better than in previous years. The ninth inning unfortunately started like several of his other appearances; with a leadoff hit. Michael Bourn tried to make a spectacular catch on Alex Gordon's line drive, figuring that at worst Alex Gordon would be second base, but Brandon Moss booted the ball, and Gordon ended up on third base.
Here we go again.
After striking out Salvador Perez, Omar Infante served a single into right field, scoring Gordon, but more importantly bringing the tying run to the plate. But tonight Allen was equal to the situation, inducing two fly outs to end the game and the losing streak.
Here we go aga--wait, they won.
The Indians will now have a brief respite from the AL Central. They start a four-game home series against the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow night.
Win Probablity Chart
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