Indians fall to 35-29
If you watched this game in real time, it’s hard to come away with any other thought than "F*** BRYAN SHAW AND F*** TITO FOR LOVING HIM SO HARD." And as much as I’m tempted to agree with that, I’ve forced myself to take a couple of deep breaths and re-centre my chakras (or whatever).
Here’s the thing... Chris Young came into this game sporting a hefty 4.81 xFIP, having allowed a league-high 3.73 homers per nine innings. The Indians teed off on this dude just over a week ago, to the tune of four homers in just 4.2 innings. Tonight, Young also failed to get out of the 5th inning. Difference is that this team, the Indians only managed two runs despite gathering five hits and four walks. So you can blame Shaw and Francona all you like for the late-game meltdown - and don’t get me wrong, you should - but this game should have never been so close in the first place.
Josh Tomlin once again did Josh Tomlin things, living slightly on the edge but continuously finding a way to work out of jams and keep the Royals from scoring. He finished the night with a sterling line - seven innings pitched, five K’s, and no walks - but was saddled with a no decision thanks to Shaw and the anemic offense. So what exactly went wrong here, before Shaw’s implosion, that is?
Wasted opportunities, mostly. In the 1st, the Indians squandered a two-on, one-out rally thanks to a Mike Napoli GIDP. In the 2nd, they couldn’t capitalize on a runners on 2nd & 3rd situation with two outs. In the 3rd, after a Carlos Santana homer and a Francisco Lindor double, Lindor got himself picked off in a rundown trying to steal third. They scored a second run in the 5th on a Jason Kipnis single, but left two runners on again as Lindor flew out and Mike Napoli pathetically popped out to the catcher.
Regardless of the missed opportunities, the Indians found themselves in a position to win heading into the 8th, thanks to Tomlin. All Bryan Shaw needed to do was work through the heart of the Royals’ order. And he would’ve done it, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling catcher! Well, no, he probably would’ve gotten rocked no matter what, seeing as he got behind in the count to every batter he faced. Despite somehow managing to get two outs, he also gave up a single before LEADING ALL-STAR VOTE GETTER Salvador Perez made him pay. Perez demolished a Shaw meatball and put the Royals ahead 3-2. What else can you say at this point? The only fun part of the inning was watching Francsico Lindor make a beautiful diving stop and toss to Jose Ramirez to throw out Kendrys Morales. Whit Merrifield tried - and failed - to make the same play earlier in the game, but I suppose he gets the last laugh, having homered again for the second night in a row.
Perhaps emboldened by Lindor’s display, the Indians feigned a two-out comeback in the 9th. Rajai Davis singled and stole second, and Carlos Santana worked a gutsy walk after a long, nerve-wracking at bat. But Jason Kipnis couldn’t get the job done, popping out weakly to third.
So ended another joyless affair that saw the Indians fall now to just one game up on the Royals in the AL Central. No one expected to waltz into KC and easily sweep the defending champs, but the Indians now face getting swept and losing control of the AL Central lead if they lose again tomorrow. Hopefully, Bryan Shaw doesn’t make another appearance.