Indians improve to 49-30 (14 in a row!)
I'm exhausted just from having watched this game, so I can only imagine what the two teams are feeling like right now. Fortunately the Indians feel quite a bit better, since they came out of this crucible a winner.
This game started six and a half hours ago, in front of a capacity crowd. Today is Canada Day, and the Toronto fans were in a festive mood. That mood turned sour just minutes into the game, though, as the hometown fans and players took exception to several strike calls by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. Edwin Encarnacion objected to a called strike three in the first, and was quickly tossed by Carapazza. Manager John Gibbons tried to get out to home plate in time to keep his player in the game, but not only was he late, but he also soon joined Encarnacion in the clubhouse. Little did anyone know that those two would miss 18 innings of baseball, and given how well Encarnacion has been hitting, those 8 missed at-bats could have made the difference in the game, Carapazza's large strike zone helped keep the offense down, but as far as I could tell, it was consistent.
Josh Tomlin bobbed and weaved his way through six innings, allowing just one run, and that run came on what was supposed to be his last batter faced. Justin Smoak took Tomlin deep with two outs in the sixth inning to tie the game. That home run would be the last time either team scored until the 19th inning.
Both teams got into their bullpens in the seventh inning, and because the score was tied, both were liberal in using relievers. The Indians used three different relievers (Dan Otero, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Manship) to get out of the eighth inning, while the Jays their three best relievers to get through the nine innings. Both clubs had opportunities to take the lead, or in Toronto's case, win the game, but somehow no one blinked.
There were many heroes today, but here are the ones particularly worthy of honor:
- Tommy Hunter and Joba Chamberlain both pitched into and got out of pressure-packed jams in the "middle" innings. Hunter pitched the 12th and 13th innings and Chamberlain pitched the 14th; both pitchers had been sparingly used over the past couple weeks, never mind pitching in a high leverage situation, but both came through. Chamberlain in particular made some great pitches, especially against Josh Donaldson to end the threat in the 14th.
- Jose Ramirez set up the Indians to win two times in extra innings. Ramirez made a smart play to get into a rundown in the 18th to keep the Indians in line to push across the go-ahead run. Alas, both times the Indians couldn't take advantage of platinum opportunities.
- Lonnie Chisenhall had five of the Indians' 15 hits, and along with Ramirez set the table in extra innings. He was certainly not the reason the Indians were held scoreless for 15 innings.
- Chris Gimenez had some horrible at-bats after he got into the game, but he made some spectacular blocks behind the plate. He helped get Trevor Bauer through five high pressure innings.
- Carlos Santana, for hitting the go-ahead home run in the 19th after so many run-scoring opportunities had gone by the boards.
- And last but not least, Trevor Bauer. It's hard to overstate how difficult the situation was that he was placed in, and he had to be throwing max-effort from the get-go. And he did it mainly with just a fastball/change, as his breaking pitches weren't working for him.
By popular demand, today's roll call: