Indians 3, White Sox 2
Indians climb to 38-30
It's fitting that on Father's Day the oldest men in the clubhouse contributed the most to the Indians' offense. Rajai Davis went 4-5 and scored the game-winning run, while Juan Uribe added a run of his own with a game-tying solo blast to left field. Carlos Carrasco did not earn a decision, but kept the White Sox offense at bay with 7.1 solid innings.
That's one way to approach the game. Here's another:
By a completely arbitrary whim of the baseball gods, the Indians overcame a series of blunders in the final innings of the game to complete a sweep of the White Sox at home. A ghost temporarily blinded Jose Abreu and he booted a Jose Ramirez ground ball in the bottom of the tenth, letting Rajai Davis cruise home with the winning Mario Coin.
Finally, a third way to view today's contest:
DOESN'T MATTER WALK-OFF WIN ANOTHER SWEEP SUCK IT NERDS
Whether they made mistakes or just suffered unfortunate accidents, the Indians squandered a couple of chances to put the game away before extras. In the bottom of the eighth, Lindor tried to go first to third on a single that Mike Napoli smoked to left. Lindor slid but Todd Frazier applied the tag and sent him back to the dugout. I'm not quite sure it counts as a TOOTBLAN. I'm willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt when he's making an aggressive play rather than strolling from first to second like they're booths at a sidewalk art festival. Still, making the second out at third is...suboptimal.
In the bottom of the ninth, Uribe stroked a double high off of the wall in left. Naquin came in to pinch run, and Yan Gomes strolled to the plate. We've covered the struggles of Gomes pretty extensively. He's statistically the worst hitter in baseball right now. Is he having terrible luck? Yes. Surely he's the player you want at the dish with the game on the line right now.
With Lonnie Chisenhall (.268/.340/.394) on the bench, ready to play baseball — dressed in his uniform and everything —Tito let Gomes have a crack at it. He struck out. The Indians still had a chance to sneak out of the ninth with the win, but Brett Lawrie made a beautiful and unfortunate play on a hard hit grounder to force free baseball. With Naquin pinch running on second for Uribe, this almost certainly saved the game.
Because these two innings weren't weird enough on their own, the baseball gods granted us a glorious bottom of the tenth that I'm still trying to process. They refused to let Cleveland lose.
Rajai Davis launched a stand-up double to start the inning. Then, for the second time today, Jason Kipnis squared around to bunt Davis to third. The first time it happened, Kipnis missed and Davis stole third anyway. This time, Kipnis dropped the bunt and sacrificed to move Rajai. We're not a community that is fairly fond of bunting. However, given that the Indians needed only one run, this move slightly boosts the Indians' chances of scoring, and therefore winning. Fangraphs suggests that it climbed about two percent. In this case, bunting was not terrible.
Immediately after this, the White Sox intentionally walked Francisco Lindor. If you think good sacrifice bunts are rare, then consider that this might qualify as a good intentional walk. I feel disgusting even writing that, but again, Fangraphs agrees: the Indians WE dropped .4% when Lindor went to first. Joe Posnanski's IWRS rates it fairly well, scoring it as a either a one or a four depending on your feelings about Mike Napoli.
I nodded at the TV screen. These things made sense. Sometimes managers can do small things to give their team a slight edge. Did it feel like a small piece of the National League infringing upon our glorious DH haven? Sure. That'll happen. It's odd, but it's still logical baseball.
Then, the gods dispatched a minor spirit to whisper into Robin Ventura's ear: Are you the manager or aren't you? Don't leave this up to the players. Do something dramatic!
He called for David Robertson to intentionally walk Mike Napoli. Said another way, Robin Ventura gave up a platoon advantage against the league leader in strikeouts in order to face Carlos Santana / Lando Carlossian. Santana hasn't been fantastic this season, but he is much more productive against right handed pitching. It also adds Jose Ramirez to the mix if Santana doesn't ground into a double play.
Sensing their impending doom, the White Sox deployed a fifth infielder. If the Indians beat the White Sox it would not be on a ground ball, they declared. Santana hit a weak pop up foul for the second out, and then Ramirez stepped up. He took one strike to settle in. Then, a rogue spirit from the baseball underworld swirled into existence, whispering into Ramirez's ear: swing at this pitch if you want to be the hero.
Ramirez did. He mashed a ground directly to Jose Abreu, who did a half-roll in the dirt and swung his glove in the general direction of the the ball. How the baseball gods laughed! Five infielders and you still got beat by a ground ball! Foolish humans.
There have been weirder baseball games, but I don't know if any have felt so blatantly tampered with by the divine. If the gods are on Cleveland's side today, I hope they can scoot on over to Oracle Arena a little later.