There’s a video going around social media right now of Eric Hosmer in line to high five his teammates after last night’s victory, exclaiming “[redacted] that streak”. And yes, the Kansas City Royals did win yesterday’s game, which ended the Indians’ historic winning streak. Less than 24 hours later, Hosmer and the Royals returned to Progressive Field only to get their asses stomped by the reigning AL Central champs as the Indians reduced their magic number to clinch the division to 1. Enjoy the postseason from your couch, Hosmer.
For the first five innings of today’s game, however, a Cleveland victory was not an assured thing. As they did many times during the win streak, the Tribe struck first and played from in front thanks to a sac fly off the bat of Abraham Almonte. Unfortunately, the lead was short lived as Alex Gordon launched his seventh home run of the season into the bullpen in center field, tying the game in the top of the third. One of the announcers (FS1 announcers today, not the usual Undermanning duo) joked with the other, asking “what was that about a bad year?”. For the record, Alex Gordon owns a an overall slash line of .207.285/.301 (wRC+ of 55); but sure, his one home run in a game in late September cancels out a year of terribleness.
The Indians immediately responded, bringing home two runs of their own in the bottom of the third thanks to a Carlos Santana RBI single and an Edwin Encarnacion sac fly. Brandon Moss would pull the Royals to within a run in the fourth with a sac fly of his own, but then the sixth inning happened.
The party got started when Yandy Diaz singled on a line drive that was immediately followed by an Abraham Almonte single. The inning was almost lost when Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela both popped out, but Francisco Lindor was coming up and you can probably guess what happened next. If you recall, Lindor was one of a handful of heroes in the series opener when he doubled in the ninth inning to tie the game that would eventually be won in extras. Like clockwork, Lindor stepped up to the plate and (again, with 2 strikes) launched a double to left field that would have been a home run in any other ball park that doesn’t have a 19-foot wall. Yandy and Abe scored to extend the Tribe’s lead to 5-2, but they weren’t done yet.
Austin Jackson came to the plate and hit what should have been a routine single to center field. Lorenzo Cain, thinking he could best Francisco Lindor, decided to gun the ball homeward in hopes of preventing another run. A futile attempt ultimately failed when Lindor slid and scored as the ball weakly bounced to catcher Drew Butera. Jackson, seeing the ball slowly making its way towards the plate, bolted for second, which drew a throw from Butera in an effort to salvage an already poorly executed play. Instead of finding Alcides Escobar’s glove, however, the ball skipped into the outfield and began rolling out into center field. Jackson popped up from his slide and broke for third because Lorenzo Cain, after making his attempt at a throw to home, decided to take the rest of the play off and didn’t back up second base. This comedy of errors allowed Austin Jackson to score on a single. Well played, Royals.
Carlos Carrasco didn’t have his best game, but he did enough to allow his team to notch their 92nd victory of the year. Over his 6.2 innings of work, Cookie only struck out 5 and allowed 4 earned runs. His breaking ball was relied on heavily today, and at times it seemed as if he had minor control issues when trying to locate his offspeed stuff. But his 6.2 innings gave way to Andrew Miller, Zach McAllister, and Nick Goody, who combined for 2.1 innings of 1 hit ball. Andrew Miller was initially going to get work tomorrow, but Tito said he would attempt to get him into the game today instead and he did just that in the seventh inning. Look for Miller to ease his way back into pitching more frequently as he ramps up for the postseason.
As of this writing, the Toronto Blue Jays have a 1-0 lead over the Minnesota Twins in the second inning. If the Twins lose tonight, your 2017 Cleveland Indians will be the AL Central champions once again. If the Twinkies pull out the victory, Corey Kluber will take the mound in the series finale tomorrow and look to lock down the Indians’ ninth AL Central pennant in day baseball.