Indians improve to 74-74
A pair of big three-run innings set the Tribe on the path to victory, as they managed to stay in the playoff hunt. With the Astros having won and the Twins currently beating the Angels 6-0 [Edit — they eventually won 8-1], the Indians remain four games behind the Astros, but only 1.5 games behind the Twins and Angels. They now head to Minnesota for a "must-win" three-game series starting on Tuesday, while the Astros and Angels begin a crunch three-game series tomorrow.
Things got going for the Tribe in the 2nd. Although they were held scoreless in the 1st, failing to capitalize on a Kipnis leadoff single and Raburn walk, the absence of any "free" sac bunt outs at least meant that they were able to run Danks' pitch count all the way up to 29.
So, having "softened up" the soft-tossing lefty, they were able to take full advantage in the 2nd. Yan Gomes singled to LF and Lonnie Chisenhall then sent one over the RF wall in a (sadly) rare start against a LHP. Almonte then doubled and advanced when Kipnis fell a few feet short of converting a sac fly into a homer. With two outs, the stage was set for Lindor to drive home another run, and he did not disappoint as the Tribe took an early 3-0 lead.
After delivering 56 pitches in the first two innings, it looked like Danks would not be long for this game, but he actually knuckled down well, getting through the third and fourth for the cost of just a pair of singles (to Raburn and Kipnis) and then giving up just a walk to Raburn in the 5th.
Ironically, with Danks' departure, the Tribe's offense immediately got back on track. When LGFT Zach Putnam came in at the top of the 6th, Yan Gomes blasted a double high off the left-center field wall and Chisenhall continued his terrific day by doubling him home. An Abe Almonte line out advanced Chis to 3rd, and after Kipnis walked, Lindor racked up a second RBI with a sac fly, and then Brantley doubled Kipnis home to make it 6-0. It's amazing how many runs you can score in an inning when you don't sac bunt (although ironically, Almonte tried to and failed!).
Josh Tomlin again got the job done for the Tribe, albeit with a somewhat uncharacteristic performance. He started well enough. After Eaton singled to lead off the 1st, a pair of strikeouts on Abreu and Cabrera were sandwiched by a superb strike of a different kind by Yan Gomes to catch Eaton on a delayed steal, with Lindor alertly speeding in from SS to apply the tag.
After that, Tomlin did experience a few close shaves, but did a fine job of keeping a lid on things. After hitting Avisail Garcia with a pitch in the 2nd, he allowed a rare walk to Mike Olt before eventually shutting things down. Then he worked around a pair of hard-hit (and wind-unassisted) Abreu and Ramirez doubles in the 3rd and 4th (which also included a second walk by Olt). Surprisingly, he gave up a rare third walk in the same game (to Abreu) in the 5th, before being removed after allowing a two-out double (to Ramirez again) in the 6th.
But still despite an "un-Tomlin-like" three walks and one hit by pitch, it was another great outing by the 30yo, who was also "un-Tomlin-like" in striking out eight, while keeping the ball in the park for only the second time in his eight starts.
Unfortunately, McAllister was, well "McAllister-like" in relief. He hasn't really been anything more than replacement level for the past couple of months and struggled yet again this afternoon. Although he did record the final out of the 6th and then struck out Flowers to start the 7th, a four-pitch walk was followed by a couple of hits by Eaton and Abreu and suddenly it was 6-2 with a runner on 1st and still only one out. So Tito turned to Kyle Crockett, who defied all those knockers who claim that he is just a LOOGY by becoming a "LTOGY" (a Left-handed Two-Out Guy) as he induced a key double play.
Bryan Shaw then came in for the 8th, and promptly hung one for Thompson to double down the left field line, with the runner eventually getting home after a couple of groundouts. However, that just set up Cody Allen for a 1-2-3 9th and a 31st save of the season, helped by a superb piece of fielding by Santana at 1B, where he has looked much improved since being called out by Tito a few weeks back.
Win Expectancy Chart
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