Indians fall to 54-38
Here's the short version of tonight's recap:
Here's the long version:
Francisco Lindor opened up tonight's game with a solo home run. Corey Kluber fanned hitter after hitter, and the Indians defense supported him with some fantastic plays. Roberto Perez made his return from the disabled list to avenge fallen comrade Yan Gomes and wasted no time, drawing a walk and gunning down a base runner.
Even on a night when Tom Hamilton seemed a little too enthusiastic about the bad guys, the game felt like a sure win as Kluber trotted to the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning. At 95 pitches, he had a shot at yet another complete game shutout. Then, he paused. Looked uncomfortable. Raised two fingers to the dugout and pointed at his calf. Handed the ball to Tito and returned to the dugout. While he smiled walking off of the diamond, his frustration bubbled over once he reached the bench and Bryan Shaw bounded out to the mound.
It's almost like Kluber knew that Bryan Shaw and Jeff Manship would allow seven runs in the inning. I never thought I would end up writing this again, but it's still the angrier, quieter version of this:
I thought that the Tribe were over these total meltdown innings. That was an APRIL THING. Didn't they outgrow problems like that an endless rain delays and malicious sun beams? Apparently not.
Just how badly did the eighth inning go for the Indians? There are a lot of ways to go about explaining this, and the first four or five that come to mind would likely result in me being permanently banned from the site.
Instead, I'll start with the defense, which played a huge role in the game tonight for the Tribe. In addition to Uribe's heroics on the hot corner, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis teamed up to quash a would-be triple in the bottom of the fourth. Cheslor Cuthbert looped a ball over Chisenguard's head, but his quick release and Kipnis's whip-throw to Uribe kept it close enough to survive a replay challenge.
That particular ball made it to the wall because Indians played Naquin and Chisenhall shallow in right and center field for most of the game. It worked out well until the fateful eighth. Christian Colón came in to pinch hit, trying to bunt runners at first and second over with nobody out. Yes, you read that correctly: Ned Yost wanted to increase his chances of scoring one run and decrease his chance of scoring multiple runs with a two-run deficit on the board. Fortunately for him, Colón watched two wide ones, then golfed a Shaw pitch over Naquin's head, tying the game at two.
At that point, things got out of hand. Shaw walked Alex Gordon. Gordon stole second. Shaw walked Cuthbert. Manship relieved Shaw. Manship gave up a single, sending it to 3-2. I don't know about you, but I found the game to be sufficiently excruciating at this point. Losing 3-2 after a magnificent Kluber start would have been enough to send me to bed scowling and muttering under my breath about high-leverage situations, clutch pitching, and "Royals Mystique".
The problem with excruciating pain is that no matter how filled with it you feel, the universe is always happy to keep pouring it on. Manship walked Whit Merrifield and offered Jarrod Dyson his first career grand slam. Dyson kindly acquiesced and put the game out of reach. Instead, I will go to bed quite, despondent, and sleep dreamlessly in a meaningless existence.
The Indians managed to put another run on the board in the top of the ninth, but ground out RBIs don't cut it with a five run deficit to make up. The game ended when Abraham Almonte popped a ball up behind home plate and Salvador Perez tracked it down.
And... wait, I'm getting word that we have an exclusive live look-in to the Indians bullpen right now. Jim, cut to the graphic.
Okay, maybe a bit harsh there, Jim, but we get the point. A team that blows an excellent game in a spectacularly bad fashion — and one that has done so on several occasions now — is perhaps a piece or two away from mounting a deep run into the postseason. Read that again: a piece or two. I'm hopeful that the Indians can find a solid bullpen arm to solidify the high-leverage situations. I don't think moving multiple top prospects for one reliever is smart decision. The Indians might be willing to overpay a little bit, but the playoffs are still too chaotic to justify giving up potential All-Stars for twenty-ish relief appearances.
Also, at this point, I don't know how to feel about Shaw at all. My inclination is that he's a fine reliever who is not suited for close games, which leads me to believe that he is not a fine reliever, except for all of the times he comes into a game without giving up any runs, which leads me to believe he's a fine reliever, which — —
Tonight's game wasn't just misery. Volquez and Uribe had a fun bonding moment during the game. In the top of the seventh, Uribe battled to a full count and ripped a drive to deep left field. Alex Gordon sprinted back and snagged the ball from the air with his back to home plate. As Uribe trotted across the diamond to return to the visiting dugout, Volquez shared some words and slapped Uribe on the butt. Uribe smiled, so whatever Volquez said must have been a compliment.
At the end of the night it's just a baseball game, and it's best to not take one terrible loss as a sure sign of the apocalypse. Disappointing? Yes. Infuriating? Yes. Tomorrow, the Indians play nine more innings against the same team with a chance to prove that they're still the team to beat in the AL Central. A season hinges on much more than one bad inning in July.
Top Posts from Indians Social Media
Not doing it. pic.twitter.com/hA8OTloFJx— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 19, 2016
Okay then pic.twitter.com/k8zhL8kqYw— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) July 19, 2016