Angels 4, Indians 3
Indians fall to 34-27
After the seventh inning ended, Trevor Bauer entered the dugout and hurled his glove against the wall. After the ninth inning ended, most Tribe fans felt like throwing their remotes at something. It was a game spent mostly in frustration, at missed opportunities and [redacted] base hits by the Angel hitters. And then a brief time when you thought it was all worthwhile, for the Indians had tied it with a three-run rally in the ninth. And then, the most appropriate ending to this game: a broken-bat blooper into center field.
Don't mistake my scorn at the LA/Anaheim offense infer that their pitching wasn't very good. On the contrary, it was excellent, and I was prepared to write off tonight's game as merely a pitcher's battle that didn't go the Tribe's way. Matt Shoemaker has in the past month pitched as well as anyone in baseball, and we all got a firsthand look at why. He struck out 11 batters in his eight innings of work, allowed just three hits, and walked just one batter. That walk (to Carlos Santana, of course) ended an amazing streak of 49 strikeouts without issuing a walk, a feat that is rather obscure but still mighty impressive. Shoemaker's split fastball dove down through the strike zone, and because he was spotting his other pitches for strikes Tribe batters became guessers, and guessing wrong most of the time. At one point in the game Shoemaker struck out six in a row. The only good side to all those strikeouts was that he was pulled after eight inning, allowing the Indians to face someone much more hittable.
Trevor Bauer wasn't as good as Shoemaker, but that's not a slight on his performance. He also went eight innings, and although he did allow nine base hits, allowed two earned runs, and those two were of rather a dubious nature (leading to the Bauer's outburst mentioned at the beginning of this recap). Those runs came in the seventh inning, after the Indians had their best scoring opportunity against Shoemaker, and consisted of:
- A Johnny Giavotella bloop base hit.
- With Giavotella running, shortstop Jose Ramirez vacated his position to cover second, and Jett Bandy hit a weak grounder through that spot to give the Angels runners at second and third.
- A weak grounder back to Bauer, who held Giavotella at third before throwing over to first for the force
- A walk to Yunel Escobar
- With Kole Calhoun being a left-handed pull hitter, the Indians swung Ramirez just to the left of second base, and of course the Angels' right fielder was late on a Bauer pitch, skying it to the only spot in left field that neither Ramirez nor left fielder Rajai Davis could reach for that given air time. Two runs scored, runs that were extremely important given later events.
The only consoling thing about that madness is that ultimately it shouldn't have mattered, because the way Shoemaker was pitching the Indians weren't going to score any runs tonight. But they did matter, because Mike Scioscia pulled Shoemaker after eight inning and sent in Huston Street to get the three-run save. Shoemaker had thrown 108 pitches, and it was defensible to do that, but even so the move came as a reprieve for the Tribe offense. Now instead of sinking 96-mph fastballs they got to hit high-80s fastballs off the Angels closer. Jose Ramirez (who was not only starting at shortstop for Francisco Lindor, but was also hitting in the third spot in the order) lined a single into the left-center gap with one out to get the rally going, Mike Napoli singled into shallow center to bring the tying run to the plate, and pinch-hitter Francisco Lindor had an amazing at-bat to walk, sending the tying run into scoring position. That set the stage for Tyler Naquin to tie the game with a single through the right side of the infield. The Indians had nobody left on their bench to pinch-run for Carlos Santana (with Michael Martinez strangely being used as a pinch-hitter for Chris Gimenez earlier), but Santana got a very good jump and was able to slide under Kole Calhoun's throw from right field.
But this brief moment of relief was just...well, brief. For Bryan Shaw committed a cardinal sin to begin the bottom of the ninth: he allowed a single to Brendan Ryan to open the inning. Ryan, who had entered the game in the top of the inning as a defensive replacement, hadn't gotten a hit in 13 previous Plate Appearances with the Angels. That base hit would lead to a sacrifice bunt, which would lead to an (unintentional) walk, and would lead to the culminating broken bat game-winning hit.
All you can say after this game is "Go get 'em tomorrow, boys. Hit the showers."