Indians 7, Twins 6
Indians improve to 17-15
Thanks to the Cleveland Indians pitching staff's valiant effort to hold Byung-Ho Park to just two monster, no doubt home runs, the Tribe were able to come away with a close win over one of the worsts teams in baseball. The Minnesota Twins did their best to prepare for this July's home run derby, but late heroics from Zach McAllister and Marlon Byrd were enough to keep the power-hitting Eduardo Nunez and the rest of the Twins lineup in check long enough for a victory.
Things looked bad early and often for the Tribe tonight. It started off with a Miguel Sano home run in the first that looked like it went 450 feet, then Byung-Ho Park followed that with his first homer of the night in the second inning. All told, six home runs were hit on the night, four by the Twins. Maybe it's just because watching another team hit a home run hurts more than the joy of seeing an Indians player hit one, but the game felt like a blowout for the first eight innings. The Indians were only ever down by as much as two, and that only lasted for an inning-and-a-half. Other than that, it was a one-run game.
Lindor was able to break out of his mini-slump he found himself in over the past couple series, going 2-for-4 on the night with two runs scored. Being The Cat's Pajamas, he also had an outstanding defensive play just to drive the point home that he is the best shortstop in the league.
The turning point of tonight's win was no doubt the eighth inning. Bryan Shaw, doing Bryan Shaw things, allowed a solo home run to start the frame then loaded the bases with his next four batters. Zach McAllister was able to come in and strike out the last two batters of the inning to get the Tribe out of the jam, albeit at the expense of every fan's blood pressure.
The bullpen heroics were great, but Marlon Byrd had a big hand in the win, as well. In a situation where Michael Brantley or Lonnie Chisenhall would normally pinch-hit if they were not already starting, the veteran outfielder came up to bat with two out and two on in the bottom of the eighth. Instead of hitting a towering fly ball as he has done so many times this season, he rocketed a ball to deep center field that allowed Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez (helmet still intact) to score.
And that was not the end of the Indians trying to send everyone rushing to the nearest hospital, either. Cody Allen had a rough go of the ninth inning, allowing two of the first three hitters he faced to get on base, including a run-scoring single from Eduardo Nunez. Even after Nunez stole a base and advanced to third on a wild pitch and Trevor Plouffe walked, Cody Allen was able to lock it down and seal the Twins' eighth-straight loss.
Josh Tomlin finished the night allowing three earned runs on four hits, but his outing looked a lot uglier than that. A lot of his pitches were uncharacteristically out of the zone tonight, and what was left in the strike zone was often hammered out of the park -- three times, to be exact. It was most likely Tomlin adjusting the situation at hand -- opposing hitters crushing all of his stuff, and the winds carrying fly balls into home run territory -- but he is just not a great pitcher when he has to try and paint the bottom of the strike zone. It showed tonight.
Regardless, Little Cowboy still technically remains undefeated following an Indians loss, although he himself did not get rewarded with the pitcher win on the night. That honor instead went to McAllister who, if pitching stats made any sense, would have also been given the save for coming in at the highest-leverage situation and saving the Indians. I'd even give him an extra win, maybe a home run, and maybe a few stumpings as well.