In response to losing four consecutive games for the first time in two years after the All-Star break, the Indians reeled off their fourth consecutive win tonight against the Cincinnati Reds. Two home runs from Carlos Santana and six innings of two-run pitching from Josh Tomlin led the way for the Tribe. Throughout the night the team handed the reins back and forth; when the offense needed a lift, Indians pitching came through. When the Indians needed response runs, the offense delivered. They tied the Ohio Cup with the Reds tonight, and more importantly now own a winning record at home once more.
The Indians played from in front most of the night thanks to an unusual run in the bottom of the 1st inning. Bradley Zimmer hammered a leadoff double to deep center fielder. He would eventually score the aforementioned run, but it came in a way that tends to infuriate Indians fans:
He moved to third base courtesy of a Francisco Lindor bunt.
Mind you, this bunt trickled down the third baseline, hit with such precision that a play at first wasn’t even possible. Lindor cruised over the bag for a single. With runners on the corners, Michael Brantley stroked a line drive to center, but in the direction of Billy “Partial gazelle” Hamilton. You would expect a hit like this to die as an out, neither runner advancing.
Except that Lindor leapt for second base on the pitch, stranding himself near second base with no chance to tag up. Hamilton gunned him down at first, which allowed Zimmer to race home for the first run. It’s possible that Zimmer, also well-known throughout baseball for being part gazelle, may have beaten a standard through home. By my eyes, it would have been close. Besides, if you exchanged a run for every two outs, you’d win 159 games a season*. Who cares about orthodoxy?
In response to the support from his offense, Tomlin settled in. He faced the minimum through the first three innings with a little help from a double play in the first. Urshela rifled a throw right on the money to Jose Ramirez, who absorbed a kind of body-blow from Hamilton and completed the twin killing.
I love Jason Kipnis. I do. But Urshela, Ramirez, Lindor are words that are heavy with nothing but trouble. Tonight, they helped the Indians turn two Reds hits into “doubles”.
Tomlin stayed scoreless until Scooter “Definitive proof that the ball is juiced” Gennett hit his 18th home run of the season in the 5th. The Indians offense responded to that tie with more runs of their own. Two walks by Tim “Implodes in the 5th inning constantly” Adleman turned into two runs, courtesy of a Roberto Perez double and a Bradley Zimmer sacrifice line-drive.
In the 6th, Zack “Finally got his donkey” Cozart launch a home run to come within one and pay the Tomlin Homer Tax in full. I don’t know how easy it is to track, but I suspect that the percentage of solo home runs that Tomlin allows is one of the highest in the history of the sport.
This is when Carlos Santana decided that he wanted to take over the game. He visited Cloud City in the bottom of the 6th with a 392-foot blast to right center field. He liked his stay so much that he returned in the next inning, parking one onto the home run porch. By this time, Andrew Miller already pitched his second inning of scoreless relief, and when he handed it over to Cody Allen the game ended three batters later (although he did plunk Joey “Too good to have a snarky nickname” Votto in the process.”
Other tidbit-like notes
- Roberto Perez added to the argument in favor of him starting everyday at catcher tonight. In addition to his RBI double, Perez drew a walk and framed a number of borderline pitches beautifully for strikes.
- The Indians drew more than 21,000 fans tonight, which seems excellent to me for a Monday. Granted, many from Cincy made the trip up I-71, but money is money. Unless it’s blood money. Or from selling meth.
- Tonight’s game clocked in at only 2:26. I could get used to that. This is partially owed to the unusual efficiency of Tomlin. He threw fewer than 80 pitches for the second consecutive time in a quality start, and the entire Indians staff needed only 115 pitches to secure the win.
- It appears that the Indians may finally have thrown off their loose behavior. Yes, it’s only been four games since rock bottom. I can’t recall a time in the last couple of seasons that the tone of Indians fandom grew quite as dark as it did after the west coast road trip ended right after the All-Star break. However, if the “switch” is truly flipped now, then the remainder of the season will attract more eyes with the foil of the first half to set it off.
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Freakin' Santana. That meaningless home run cost Cody Allen a save opportunity. And he pitches worse when there's no save.#DumbPeopleTweets— Monte the Color Man (@Monte_Colorman) July 25, 2017