The past few days have been rough to watch as a Cleveland Indians fan, and there has been a common theme in all of the losses: a lack of clutch hitting. Call it a skill, call it blind luck, or call it a byproduct of sequencing — however you want to categorize the inability to get runs home when runners are in scoring position, that is what this Indians offense has been doing... until the 10th inning of tonight’s win over the Chicago White Sox.
The heart of the Indians lineup put up a real honest-to-goodness fight in the sixth inning. With the game tied 1-1 and a win for master duelist Carlos Carrasco on the line, Abraham Almonte led the frame off with a double. Two batters later, Francisco Lindor was intentionally walked after James Shields fell behind him in the count. That lead to Michael Brantley’s at-bat.
There is some merit to the idea of pinch-hitting Brandon Guyer, a batter who makes left-handed pitchers wake up in cold sweats, against the left-handed Dan Jennings. But Tito opted to leave Brantley in, and it worked to an extent. Brantley’s intense at-bat last six pitches and concluded with three of the final four pitches going in the dirt.
And then Edwin Encarnacion was up. Todd Frazier may or may not have mocked Edwin’s Edwing when he homered earlier in the game, but it apparently wasn’t enough to wake up the sleeping giant that is Encanracion’s bat. He patiently worked a full count, but wasted a beautiful splitter up in the zone for a double play instead of sending it into the stands.
After a couple disappointing innings offensively, Yandy Diaz made a case for position players to be eligible for saves with this incredible dive.
And here's the Gold Glove Yandy GIF: pic.twitter.com/01MVVtzKi2— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 11, 2017
I don’t have the ability to glance into other dimensions, but if I did I bet I would see a few where two or three runs score without Yandy making this catch, and I’m guessing a surprise meteor crashes into the earth in a few others. But in this universe, Yandy just put himself on highlights reel for the next month or so with a game-saving dive.
The real issue of the game, for me and anyone with a pulse was the eighth inning. Abraham Almonte and Carlos Santana got aboard with walks — two on, nobody out with the team’s best hitter, Francisco Lindor, up to bat. Heck yeah, here we go time to win this game of basebal- WHY IS HE HOLDING THE BAT WITH TWO HANDS THAT’S NOT HOW YOU HIT DINGERS.
Watching Lindor bunt, Brantley get intentional walked, and Edwin Encarnacion hit into his second double play of the game was rough. In extra innings, the idea that you “only need one more run” might make sense, but absolutely not in the eighth inning of a nine-inning game. Not to mention with your superstar up to bat and a former All-Star batting behind him. We might find out who called for that bunt after the game, but it falls back on Tito either way. As I wrote last year, if Tito is calling for the bunt, it’s on him. If he’s letting Lindor bunt in idiotic situations, that’s also on him to stop it.
Luckily, this Indians team doesn’t care about my bitterness. They weren’t about to let me write about a loss and be able to dwell on one bad decision for an hour. After another failed attempt with runners in scoring position in the ninth inning — thanks to an awful Yan Gomes at-bat — the game went to the 10th.
Yes, Jordan Bastian, the second time in a row this has happened against a Chicago team in Progressive Field. You monster.
In the fateful final inning, Lindor walked and then some Brantley #BatMagic happened when he doubled to left and Melky Cabrera decided he wasn’t interested in throwing the ball in so Lindor could score from first.
Unless I’m missing one, I believe this is Michael Brantley’s first walk-off run batted in since he homered back on August 11, 2015. It’s been a long, difficult road back (and Brantley’s overall struggles may not be done), but I’ll be damned if I’m not thrilled to have him in the lineup again.
Lost in all this batting disappointment-turned-nirvana was the excellent outing by Carlos Carrasco. Cookie held the White Sox offense to one earned run off of four hits in seven innings of work. He also struck out seven batters and did not issue a single free base. In all of last season, Carrasco started only five games in which he didn’t issue a walk, including his final 2.2-inning start of the season.