Indians improve to 77-56
The first inning is often the best time to get to a pitcher; he hasn’t settled in to a rhythm, still is getting used to the mound, and he and his catcher are still figuring out which pitches are working. The Marlins’ Andrew Cashner had missed a start while dealing with a blister on his pitching hand, which was an additional issue to deal with. But none of that compared with what tonight’s umpire crew had in store for him.
Cashner walked Carlos Santana to start the game, then got into a full count against Jason Kipnis. Santana took off with the 3-2 pitch, Kipnis swung and missed, and Santana was a dead duck at second base. Or so everyone thought. Second base umpire Joe West didn’t make a call at second because he wanted to wait for third baseman Andy Fletcher to confirm the swing. But, in a call that shocked everyone in the park, Fletcher ruled that Kipnis did not swing, and therefore Santana was safe at second on Kipnis’ walk. Instead of there being two outs and nobody on, the Indians had their first two batters on with nobody out. Francisco Lindor to bloop a single into shallow center to load the bases, then Napoli walked to force home the first run of the game. The next two batters (Ramirez, Chisenhall) forced home runs on ground outs, and so the Indians would plate three runs despite only collecting one hit in the inning.
That was more than enough for Carlos Carrasco. In his last start Carrasco had a first inning much like Cashner’s, but there would be no difficulties for the Tribe pitcher tonight. He would strike out 11 Marlins in 7.1 innings, and would only allow multiple hits in one frame. There would be no issues with throwing to first tonight; Carrasco was in rhythm throughout his start, and just about everything he threw went where intended. This was Carrasco’s first appearance against the Marlins, though even if had faced Miami three years ago, most of the players into tonight’s lineup wouldn’t have been with the team. The Marlins are dealing with a rash of injuries, with key players like Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Derek Dietrich all on the DL. Even so, Carrasco made some excellent hitters rather foolish, as is his wont when he’s in top form.
The Indians would tack on a run in the second, when Carlos Santana drove home Tyler Naquin on a frozen rope sac fly, and Abraham Almonte would plate two more with a double in the fifth. But because the Indians had had an off day on Thursday, Terry Francona used several of his regular back-end relievers to finish off the game. Jeff Manship relieved Carrasco in the eighth inning, giving up the only Marlin runs of the game, Andrew Miller did warm up (but didn’t enter the contest), and Cody Allen finished things off in the ninth, but not before Miami first base coach Perry Hill was tossed just a pitch into the inning. I think that the ejection was the residual effect of the first inning’s blown call, with Hill having chirped at the umpires all game. But as things turned out, the Indians made sure that that call wouldn’t be the sole reason they won tonight.
With the win, the Indians will gain a game on either the Tigers or Royals, as those two teams are playing tonight. The good thing about having a lead, though, is that you control your own destiny, so if the Indians keep winning, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.