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Against all odds, Indians walk it off again

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Despite myriad factors working against them, the Indians managed an improbable 11th walk-off win against KC

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians 2, Kansas City Royals 1

Box score
Tribe improves to 87-63

Magic number falls to 6

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Let’s review the factors working against the Indians tonight:

  • Josh Tomlin started
  • Edinson Volquez somehow held the Indians to one run
  • Terry Francona insists on continuing to bunt as much as possible
  • The Royals are the luckiest idiots in baseball
  • Like, a hundred people bothered showing up at Progressive Field
  • Paul Hoynes has declared the season officially over

And yet, against all odds, the Indians once again won in spectacular fashion. Brandon Guyer secured the Tribe’s 11th walk-off of the season with a barely-fair ball sliced violently down the right field line to drive in the game winner. If this ain’t a team of destiny, I don’t know what is.

If you’ll allow me to get personal for a minute - and I’ve earned the right by recapping an abnormal amount of Tomin starts this year - I want to share this exchange I had with my wife earlier. She’s feeling it, too. And now I’m sitting here trying to get this recap finished so I can book some October tickets to Cleveland. This is happening, people.

But anyway, I suppose I should write about what actually happened in the game. Let’s start with my first bullet from above, and the most unlikely thing that happened tonight: Josh Tomlin dominated the Royals tonight. The Little Cowboy turned in his second great start in a row by consistently locating his pitches on the black, and keeping the ball on the ground. He faced the minimum through four innings and 12 out of the 20 outs he recorded were groundouts. Given his propensity for fly balls, this is about the best outing you could reasonably expect from Tomlin. Not only did he not allow any of his patented gopher balls, but he also didn’t walk a batter. In fact the only run he allowed arguably shouldn’t have scored.

After giving up a ground rule double to Sal Perez with one out in the 5th, Alex Gordon followed with a sharp single to left that was hit too hard to score a runner from 2nd. Abe Almonte was having none of that, though, so he graciously misplayed the hop and allowed Perez to score while Gordon advanced to 2nd. Tomlin worked out of it with no further damage, but the score stayed deadlocked at 1-1 for much longer than it should have.

The Indians couldn’t do much of anything against world-beater Edinson Volquez, save for Lando Carlossian taking his 33rd trip to Cloud City in the 3rd inning. Volquez and the Royals bullpen shut the Tribe out for the rest of the game until the fateful 9th inning.

Jose Ramirez led off the 9th with a gutsy walk, and you could start to feel the anticipation. Tito did his best to crush that anticipation by forcing Coco Crisp to bunt but fortunately, KC pitcher Brian Flynn couldn’t handle the ball and Coco reached. Not satisfied to leave well enough alone, Francona next ordered Almonte to bunt. Abe himself was not content with his previously level of buffoonery, so he bunted straight back to the pitcher and allowed him to peg the lead runner at 3rd. With Joakim Soria in now, Rajai Davis stepped up to the plate in a righty-righty mismatch for him.

Rajai did his part, but the Royals Royals’d it up in the most Royals-y way possible. Rajai blistered a ball that looked like it was headed straight up the middle to score Crisp from 2nd, but the ball kicked off Soria’s leg and rolled literally right to Hosmer at 1st. With almost all the wind let out of the Tribe’s sails, Brandon Guyer stepped in to pinch hit for Roberto Perez. The count quickly ran to 1-2, and it looked like the game was headed to extras. Until this:

And with that, the Indians had their 11th walk-off win of the season. It’s a good thing, too, because the Red Sox won easily again tonight and the Rangers are on their way to victory as well. The division may be close to locked up, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a fight to the finish for homefield advantage.

Only one thing’s for sure, though: it ain’t over till it’s over. Peel another one off, boys and girls!