Indians fall to 56-41
In each half-inning of baseball, the team on offense is allotted only three outs. Occasionally, the defensive team will make a mistake, turning a sure-out into another opportunity. This is often known as allowing a "fourth out". Sometimes, the team on offense will take advantage of this. Sometimes, no damage will be done. The Indians seem to be the exception; if they allow the opponents a fourth out, disaster strikes. We might as well ask Manfred to add it to the rulebook at this point.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Roberto Perez scooped up a dropped third strike and threw to first base. Pedro Alvarez hobbled down the first baseline because that's the fastest speed he can reach. Instead of taking his time to throw around Alvarez, Perez bounced the baseball off of the back of the runner's helmet. Voila: a fourth out handed to the Orioles.
Nolan Reimold came on to pinch-hit and blasted a no-doubt walk-off homer. Prophecy fulfilled. The worst thing about this is that Buck Showalter did his best to give the out back to the Indians by sac bunting Pedro Alvarez to second and then keeping him in to run. But no matter. The Indians gave the Orioles a chance to win, and they took it. This is not the first time this season we've run into that problem with the Orioles.
Since we started the recap at the end of the game and I'm furious, let's keep sliding backwards!
In the bottom of the eighth, Bryan Shaw pitched a scoreless frame, but it didn't happen exactly as planned. After striking out Schoop, Shaw walked Manny Machado. Then, after a called ball on a 2-2 pitch, Chris Davis tossed his bat and started to first. Machado, seeing him approach, began to wander toward second. Roberto Perez snapped a throw to first, and then Indians tagged Machado out. Interestingly, I don't think Napoli even knew Machado went; when he turned he swiped past the bag, then had to lunge to complete the play. Shaw escaped the inning after Lonnie Chisengrabbed a deep drive to right center field that would have scored a run.
The Orioles initially took the lead on a solo home run by Jonathan Schoop in the bottom of the fifth. For a while it looked like the Indians might go gently into this brutal afternoon; Vance Worley retired the final 11 hitters that he faced. Not until Brad Bach took the mound in the ninth did the offense return, although it took a little bit of help. Kipnis singled then Lindor grounded into a fielder's choice that should have been at least one out. Instead, Schoop committed an error. Napoli singled to left to tie things up, but the rally died quickly after a flyout and double play.
The Indians opened up scoring in the fourth inning. Jose Ramirez walked, Chisenhall singled, and after a Juan Uribe popout Tyler Naquin stroked a double to deep left field. The Indians might have plated a few more, but after the double Robert Perez hit a sac fly and Carlos Santana popped up.
Kluber look sharp in the early going today. His curveball proved to be as unhittable as Randy Johnson's slider in Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. He located his fastball and for a moment I thought he'd march stoically to a perfect game. I ONLY THOUGHT IT. I DID NOT JINX HIM BECAUSE I SAID NOTHING. Then, reality set back in. Kluber pitched well today, but I wonder what's going on with The Two Klubers. He's a different guy from the windup than he his from the stretch? How much different? I'm out of words, so I'll have to address it tomorrow. It's unlikely to be as dramatic as The Two Bartlets, but who knows?
The last item of note: Roberto Perez finally notched his first hit of the season with a single in the top of the third. Then, he attempted to stretch it into a double and reached second a half-inning after the throw. Perez also added a sacrifice fly. He is now hitting .053/.310/.053.
If things seem awful, here's a random tweet from the baseball world to remind us how lucky we've been to stay relatively healthy in the rotation:
Tim Lincecum’s day: 8 runs, 4 outs. It was his 268th major league start and it was his worst. It is unclear if he will ever make another.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) July 24, 2016