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Rangers win, 2-1, after Indians fail to score with bases loaded in ninth

Baseball can be such a tease.

Cleveland Indians 1 Texas Rangers 2

Box Score

Indians fall to 73-56

4.5 game lead in AL Central


The Cleveland Indians loaded the bases with one out in the top of 9th inning today against the Texas Rangers. Just how advantageous is that? According to Fangraphs the Indians had a 46.8% chance to win the game at that point. If you peruse Sabermetric Wizard Tom Tango's run expectancy matrix, you'd expect the Indians to tie the game about 65% of the time, at least giving the Tribe a chance to take the game to extras.

These are the numbers that an average team on an average day against an average pitcher might expect. Today, the pitcher happened to be Sam Dyson, who threw nine consecutive balls in the inning. The hitters happened to be Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte.

What did Naquin's at-bat look like?

On the broadcast, the second pitch appeared to be a little farther away from the zone than that. I can live with one iffy call in an at-bat. What I don't understand is how Dyson got away with throwing two low pitches to Naquin. As previously observed on our site, this is where Naquin eats lunch. The first is a fastball, and Naquin made contact and nearly got all the way around on it. Then, the final pitch was a changeup that Naquin swung through.

Still, one more opportunity strolled into the box. Abraham Almonte could have definitively answered the question, "why are we playing this guy during the run up to the playoffs if he can't play in the playoffs?" with a single swing of the bat. Even a patented Cleveland Indians bases-loaded walk would have done just fine. Instead, here is the at-bat:

Pitch #3, the one on which Abraham Almonte popped up to end the game, was a 97 mph fastball. This pitch is not located particularly well for anybody. But what about Almonte? Maybe Dyson exploited a giant hole in Almonte's swing. Here's a look at Almonte's hitting heatmap (courtesy of Fangraphs) for his entire career. Just to review, the redder a particular zone is, the more likely it is that Almonte will hit the cover off of the ball.

That's right: Dyson delivered a fastball to the portion of the plate from which Abraham Almonte is most productive. He did it in a 2-0 count went Almonte would certainly expect to see a fastball, and might even be waiting for it. Thanks, baseball.

If this isn't frustrating enough, both of the Rangers' runs were manufactured. Elvis Andrus attempted to steal 2nd base in the bottom of the 3rd inning, and was ruled out on the field, ending the inning. Once the replay bounced back from New York, they ruled that he just beat out the throw, and would remain safe. Ian Desmond slapped the next pitch to right field, scoring Andrus. In the bottom of the fourth, Adrian Beltre advanced to second on a dropped third strike. Lo and behold, Jonathan Lucroy blasted the next pitch to right field, scoring what would be the deciding run in today's contest.

It's frustrating, because the Indians recieved a vintage performance from Danny Salazar today. It feels a bit strange to say that anything a 26-year-old does is vintage — that's not much time to grow a reputation — but take a look at his line for the day:

5.1 5 2 2 2 10 0 98-63 3.88

10 K's, a couple of walks, and no more than six complete innings of work? Salazar has now done this four times in his career:

August 28th, 2016
May 11th, 2016
April 18th, 2015
April 10th, 2014

It's not an incredibly uncommon thing to see, but guys like Salazar and Chris Archer (four this season) seem much more likely to put up this line than, say, Clayton Kershaw or Jake Arrieta.

Tomorrow, the Indians begin a 10-game homestand against the Twins, Marlins, and Astros. They even get an off day on September 1st. Thanks, scheduling computer!

Last items of note: Francisco Lindor tallied three hits on the day, and leads all of MLB with 21 such games to his name. Brandon Guyer got hit by a pitch for the 28th time this season.