Indians improve to 10-9
It was a cold and rainy night in the Twin Cities, and this game fit the weather appropriately. But unlike the first two games of the series, this time the Tribe came out victorious.
Josh Tomlin, who in his first two starts was in complete command, made several mistakes in the first inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Danny Santana, then later in the inning missed badly on an 0-2 pitch to Miguel Sano, and the Minnesota third baseman slammed a ground-rule double to straightaway center. He would allow two more runs in the inning, and would make an uncharacteristically wild throw to first base (though that didn't end up hurting him).
On the mound for the Twins was Jose Berrios, who was making his MLB debut. One of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Berrios showcased a mid-90s fastball, along with a deceptive changeup and a curve. The Indians didn't have much success against Berrios until the third. Tyler Naquin, who has quietly had an excellent start to his MLB career, worked a walk, then scampered to third on a Carlos Santana single. Francisco Lindor then stayed back on a outside changeup and lined it just past the lunging Danny Santana, scoring both Naquin and Carlos Santana. Carlos made an awkward turn around third base, limping home.
Josh Tomlin was able to get back on track following the rough first inning, retiring the Twins with ease in the second, third, and fourth innings. Meanwhile the Indians worked up the pitch count on Berrios, and knocked him out of the game in the fifth inning. Following two walks to lead off the inning, Jason Kipnis, who had struck out in his first two at bats, jumped on a spinner and lined it down the right field line. That tied the game, and was the end of the line for Berrios. Francisco Lindor then (against left-hander Fernando Abad) just about threw his bat a ball down and away to put the ball in play to the right side of the infield. That scored a run, and got Kipnis to third.
Then Michael Brantley had an excellent at-bat against the southpaw, spoiling some pitches, spitting on others, because hitting what would have been a rather routine sacrifice fly to medium-deep left field. But Eddie Rosario tried to set himself so that he'd make the catch with his momentum heading towards home plate, but in the process missed the ball. Brantley would then steal third after Michael Tonkin just plain forgot he was there, and score when Mike Napoli served a low fastball into center field. That made the score 6-3, and would be the final run the Indians would score on the night.
Josh Tomlin made another throwing error in the bottom of the inning, and this time it cost him an unearned, the first allowed by the Indians this year (the longest they've gone before allowing one since that statistic was tracked). Despite a very low pitch count, Tomlin was pulled in the sixth after giving up a one-out homer to Byung Ho Park. The score was 6-5, and the Indians bullpen would have to pitch the rest of the game with no margin for error.
New callup Kyle Crockett retired the only batter he faced, then Zach McAllister got out of the sixth. He'd come out for the seventh with Ross Detwiler warming behind him, presumably to face Joe Mauer should he come up. But when Mauer stepped to the plate, Terry Francona stayed in the dugout, and McAllister would (unitentionally) walk the Minnesota first baseman. Tito remained in the dugout after McAllister walked Miguel Sano to load the bases. Finally, McAllister got out of the inning by striking out Park. This wouldn't be the last dramatic moment of the night.
After Bryan Shaw had an uneventful eighth inning, Cody Allen, who gave up last night's game-winning hit, entered the game to try to nail down the save. Danny Santana bounced a single up the middle just past Allen's lunge, and stole second, pushing the tying run into scoring position. Allen struck out Brian Dozier, and now the Indians had a decision to make. With Mauer stepping to the plate, the convention wisdom (or at least the strategy used the night before) seemed to be to walk him and face Sano. Mickey Callaway jogged to the mound to ask Allen who he'd rather face, and the answer was Mauer. After a well-fought at-bat, Mauer hit a fly ball to left-center to end the game. The Indians escaped with the win, and head to Philadelphia once again above .500.
- Not only did Michael Brantley have a great at-bat against Abad, he made a nice play in the field, catching a Dozier drive close to the left-center field wall, in the same place that he injured his shoulder last September.
- Jose Ramirez looked very good at third base, ranging to his left several times, making plays that I don't think Juan Uribe can make at this stage in his career. With Brantley not playing every day, I think Ramirez should remain a regular in the lineup.
- The Carlos Santana Leadoff Experiment continued to pay dividends, as Santana had another three hits on the night, including a double. Ironically,
he hasn't drawn a walktonight he draw his first walk since moving to the top of the order.
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