Indians advance to ALCS
No one gave the Cleveland Indians much of a chance to win the ALDS. They responded by refusing to give the Boston Red Sox a chance to win it. Both division series in the American League ended with a sweep, and the Indians will now face the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS on Friday.
Here are the more important moments of the game, recorded more or less as they happened.
In the top of the fourth, Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall reached on a single, then a walk. Coco Crisp threatened to bunt, took two balls, hit a foul ball, and then laid down a bunt to advance both runners. Tyler Naquin then roped a single of his own to right field, scoring two and continuing the theme of the series: The bottom half of the second best offense in the American league outpaced the entire lineup of the best offense in the American League. Naquin continues to impress here in the postseason, bolstering his Rookie of the Year case over Michael "Not in the Playoffs" Fulmer.
Naquin led MLB (min. 50 AB) in AVG (.366) and SLG (.715) on offspeed (curves, sliders, changeups) in '16. Buchholz gave him two curveballs.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 10, 2016
It might have been a bigger inning, except for a stellar defensive play by Dustin Pedroia to steal a single from Roberto Perez. As such, Naquin stood on second while Carlos Santana struck out after battling and driving up Buchholz's pitch count.
Pomeranz entered in the top of the fifth. I'd like to give John Farrell credit for trying to avoid the TTOP, but I think he just recognized that Buchholz was about to hand out dingers like candy corn on Halloween.
In the bottom of the fifth, Tomlin gave up a run on an Andrew Benintendi pop fly that barely scraped the Green Monster. Coco Crisp played it well off of the wall, but as is well-documented, his arm is made of rubber bands and bubble gum at this point. Xander Bogaerts came around to score. Dan Otero started warming up in the bullpen. They did not need to deploy him immediately; Tomlin worked his way out of the inning with a strikeout and a groundout.
Crisp redeemed himself in the next inning, swatting a meatball over the Monster for a two-run dinger. If you had held a gun to my head and asked me to rank, in order, the players I thought most likely to hit a home run in tonight's game, I would have named Bryan Shaw before Coco Crisp. On the other hand, some of us saw it coming.
Armed with a 4-1 lead, the Indians sent Josh Tomlin out to start the bottom half. He gave up a single, and without hesitation Tito Francona sent High Leverage Reliever (HLR) Andrew Miller to the mound. I know that a 4-1 lead doesn't usually appear to be a high leverage situation, but with a lead and a chance to win the series after an extra day of rest you throw the best possible pitches at the opponent in a chance to shut them down. Every pitch is high leverage in this situation. He allowed a double to Mookie Betts, which moved Pedroia to third. Then, David Ortiz logged his first RBI of the series on a sacrifice fly to center field. After that, he struck out Hanley Ramirez to preserve a 2-run lead. After the Indians fell in order in their half of the seventh, Miller hung another scoreless frame on the Best Offense in the American League. In the series Miller's line reads as follows:
4 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 SO, 0 ER.
Things became a bit more fraught for the Tribe in the bottom of the eighth. Bryan Shaw began the inning and recorded two outs, giving up one single. After this, the ball landed in Cody Allen's hands to face David Ortiz. He walked the slugger on five pitches. I don't particularly mind that decision; it's not a great idea to try and beat Ortiz over the plate. Trouble grew from there, however.
After six straight balls, Allen gives up an RBI single to Ramirez. Boston has trimmed Cleveland's lead to 4-3.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 11, 2016
I would like to point out that over the course of this season I have yelled about Indians games. I have paced nervously, eaten pizza compulsively, and even pre-emptively poncho'd myself only to watch the Tribe lose. Tonight, I reached High Anxiety, watching Cody Allen give up a hard hit ball to Xander Bogaerts with a pinch runner on second. He smoked it at 99 miles an hour. It died in Jason Kipnis's glove.
Praise be to the Baseball Gods and their gentler offspring the Titans of BABIP.
The Indians failed to score in the top of the frame, and Cody Allen returned to pitch the bottom of the ninth.
- He forced Chris Young to fly out to shallow left.
- He struck out Sandy Leon looking.
- A single down the right field line to Jackie Bradley, Jr.
- A walk to Dustin Pedroia.
- A flyout to right field by Travis Shaw.
Fear of a team that refuses to quit, will not die, will always keep fighting as long as they have a chance. The Indians face the Blue Jays on Friday, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Danny Salazar is activated for the series. For now, I have one thing to say before signing off:
LET'S GO TRIBE!
** EDIT: I went back and looked. 40 pitches ties Allen's second highest pitch count...one that he also reached in game one of the series. What about his career high?
A small correction to last night's @LetsGoTribe recap: Cody Allen's highest pitch count in one game is 52 on April 16, 2013.— Matt Schlichting (@MattSchlichting) October 12, 2016