Indians 5, Athletics 3
Indians improve to 58-42
Tonight a defensive miscue once again proved decisive in the outcome of the game. This time it was the other team’s error that was the difference.
Trevor Bauer was better than his last time on the hill, but ultimately he faltered as he faced the A’s the third time through the order. An error paved the way for the A’s to get on the board in the fourth (thanks to a two-out single by good fremeny Billy Butler, then two home runs in the sixth gave Oakland a 3-0 lead. One of those homers came off the bat of potential trade target Josh Reddick, and he’d later have a say in how the game ended.
Of late the Indians’ formula of taking the lead early, then coasting to the finish thanks to outstanding pitching has been turned on its head. Too often since the All-Star break, it has been the other team to pull out in front, and the Tribe bats hadn’t been able to come from behind. And it certainly looked like the new formula would hold tonight, as the Indians trailed 3-0 with Oakland groundballer Kendall Graveman in total control.
But Carlos Santana would respond to Oakland’s two home runs in the top of the sixth with a solo blast of his own. The blast to right field would give him the team lead in home runs, and would prove a prologue to future success against Graveman, who his last time out had pitched a complete game against Tampa Bay.
Even so, the Indians would need some help to push them over the top, and that help came from a likely source: Marcus Semien booted a one-out grounder off the bat of Rajai Davis, and that seemed to unloose the offensive spigot. Tyler Naquin would line a low outside pitch into left field, then pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte would do the same thing; with both Davis and Naquin running on the pitch, the Indians now trailed 3-2 with runners on the corners. That would be the end of the night for Graveman, as manager Bob Melvin brought in Scrabble to turn Carlos Santana around. Santana worked a walk to load the bases, bringing up Jason Kipnis. The Tribe second baseman went to the plate trying to do anything except roll over on a pitch, and so he broke his bat trying to hit the ball the other way. The ball fell harmlessly between the left fielder and shortstop, tying the game. Francisco Lindor would face Oakland relief ace Ryan Dull, but he wouldn’t have to do anything to give the Indians, for Dull uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Almonte to score easily (even with a poor break). Lindor then gave the Indians some breathing room with a sacrifice fly. In all, the Indians scored four runs in the inning, all coming after one out.
The middle relievers should not be forgotten in this game. Dan Otero came into the game with runners on base, and got the team out of the sxith inning. Cody Anderson, who has been by necessity turned into a reliever, pitched a scoreless seventh. Those two allowed that four-run bottom of the seventh to be a lead-changing inning.
Anderson Allen started the top of the ninth uneventfully, striking out Semien, but allowed bloop singles to the next two batters. He would strike out Jed Lowrie, then faced Josh Reddick. For a good 2-3 seconds, I thought Reddick had hit a three-run homer, undoing all the good things that had happened a half hour before. But thankfully the right-center dimensions weren’t ten feet shorter, for Tyler Naquin caught the deep fly in the middle of the warning track to clinch the victory.