Indians improve to 81-58
The Astros rolled the dice in Thursday's series finale, electing to call up one of their top prospects to start on the mound in what would be his Major League debut. I'm not totally up-to-date on all things Astros, but this seems, at the least, like an interesting move in the heat of the playoff race.
David Paulino throws hard and had really solid numbers in Double and Triple-A, racking up 106 strikeouts in just 90 innings, to go along with a 2.00 ERA. The show, however, is a different animal and the Indians took advantage of the rookie and a very, very, very fortuitous break in their second straight win.
Paulino pitched around an inning-opening double from Carlos Santana in the first and put up a clean second to keep off the Tribe off the board early, but trouble was coming. The right-hander walked Tyler Naquin to start the third and then hung a slow breaking ball that was promptly turned into an RBI double by Jason Kipnis. After a Francisco Lindor single scored Kipnis, Mike Napoli was hit by a pitch and Jose Ramirez walked. Now, it was time for that awesome break.
With Lonnie Chisenhall up to bat with the bases loaded, Paulino bounced a breaking ball that Chiz checked his swing on. Chisenhall also fouled the ball off, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce unbelievably missed the call and let the play continue on. Houston catcher Jason Castro didn't go chase after the ball and instead decided to stand and argue the call. Lindor and Napoli did what they were supposed to do and kept on running, both scoring. Joyce eventually called time (at a very odd time, though) and after plenty of discussion the two runs stood and the Tribe lead 4-1.
The Astros went to the bullpen in the fourth, turning to Brady Rodgers, another rookie. He promptly got rocked, giving up two runs in the fourth and was on the hook for three more in the fifth.
Trevor Bauer had the benefit of a great offense backing him up today, but it almost was not enough. In five innings of work, he allowed five earned runs off of seven hits, including two home runs. After his second home run of the day, Dan Otero was called upon to finish the sixth inning, right up until rain delayed the game for almost exactly an hour (2:36p to 3:35p). Perci Garner took the mound when the game returned and picked up right where Bauer left off -- allowing a walk and a triple, then allowing a run to score on a wild pitch (a real wild pitch this time, not a Jim Joyce Wild Pitch™).
A big part of the Tribe's offense firepower came from Abraham Almonte, who has been a big part of the offense in the second half, even if he cannot participate in the postseason. Carlos Santana also clubbed his 30th home run of the season, which means Indians will finally appreciate him now (right? RIGHT?). Regardless, Carlos is a member of the 30 home run club, the Indians have already won 81 games, and things are pretty okay in Cleveland.