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Bullpen implodes, offense explodes, and then bullpen implodes again

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What a roller coaster of emotions that ended in a fiery explosion off the edge of a cliff

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

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On the day that the Indians found out that José Ramírez is likely out for the remainder of the season, they deployed some late inning magic in an attempt to sweep the Royals and bring some hope back to a lethargic, exhausted fan base. But it ultimately wasn’t enough and the Tribe ended up dropping the series finale in extras by a score of 9-8.

How did this happen?

How this happened

Well, for starters, Shane Bieber got off to a bit of a rocky start. Control was not in the cards for Not Justin early on. A single by Whit Merrifield to start the game later followed by back to back walks of Alex Gordon and Ryan O’Hearn loaded the bases. But the Biebs clawed buckled down and got Bubba Starling to ground into a force out to end the inning with no damage done. He wouldn’t be so lucky in the second. Three straight hits and a fielders choice brought two Royals’ runners home. Jorge Soler grounded into a double play to end the inning, but the Royals took an early lead in this seesaw game. It should be noted that the second run was unearned thanks to a throwing error by Kevin Plawecki, but it scored nonetheless.

Bieber’s troubles ended after his home run to O’Hearn in the third inning. From there on out, it was smooth sailing. Through the first three innings, Bieber only induced four swinging strikes. Through the next four, he got eleven. Following the O’Hearn blast, no other member of the Royals reached base until the eighth inning (we’ll get to that trainwreck in a moment). All told, Bieber showed why he is becoming one of the best pitchers in the league today and gave his team a chance to win.

And for a while, they had some wonderful chances. Kevin Plawecki, giving Roberto Perez a day off, blasted a two-run home run to left field in the third inning to bring the Tribe to within one. He later singled in Yu Chang in the seventh to tie the game. Without Ramírez in the lineup, folks were channeling the “next man up” mantra on Twitter and those two really stepped up in a big way (Chang had his first two major league hits, one of which was a triple off the top of the left field wall). However, this was the Before Time. Next came...

The awful eighth inning

With the game knotted at 3, the Tribe turned to their usually reliable bullpen in the eighth after a solid outing by Shane Bieber. The bullpen then took a nosedive directly into a molten lava pit and, in the words of Tom Hamilton, allowed the Royals to “remove all doubt”. A rare fielding error by Lindor allowed Whit Merrifield to reach to start the inning. This then allowed Jorge Soler to blast his 36th home run of the season to give the Royals a two-run lead. But the carnage didn’t stop there. Walks to Alex Gordon, Ryan O’Hearn, and Nick Dini loaded the bases. Phil Maton then uncorked a wild pitch and allowed the third run in the inning to score. A few pitches later, and Humberto Arteaga drew a walk of his own to load the bases again. Hunter Wood then replaced Phil Maton and gave up a double on his first pitch of the afternoon to Nicky Lopez, which brought in another two. Whit Merrifield then struck out to mercifully end the inning, but the damage was, indeed, done.

Hope is kindled!

La Mole stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the inning and destroyed a baseball to right center field. He’s been sort of in a funk since coming over to the Tribe from San Diego, but he seems to be waking up as of late. His 104.8 mph home run traveled only 402 feet, but it was beautiful. The next three batters all went down pretty easily, but at least the Indians were only losing by four now instead of five.

With the normally dominant Ian Kennedy entering into the ninth to get some work in, things got dicey fast. Mr. Smile hit a solo dinger of his own to pull the Tribe within three. Carlos Santana walked and Yasiel Puig got a much needed hit (he was 2-for-25 recently) to bring the tying run to the plate. A wild pitch then moved both runners into scoring position. With Franmil Reyes in the box, he was down to his last strike and then this happened:

The man can punish baseballs and he’s here for the next 12 or so years. So that’s fun. The game was tied, Progressive Field was rocking, and it looked like the Tribe would find some of that late season magic we’ve seen time and time again over the past few years.

They didn’t.

Nick Goody came into the tenth and gave up a 106.1 mph home run to Ryan O’Hearn that ended up being the deciding run in today’s contest. The Tribe went down in order in the bottom half of the inning.

Tidding Bits

  • The Twins won today because of course they did, so the Tribe now sits 3.5 games back of first place.
  • The weekend is over, so we don’t have to see the terrible Player’s Weekend uniforms anymore, so maybe today isn’t all bad.

Off day for the Tribe tomorrow before a new series begins on Tuesday with the Tigers. Hopefully no one else on the team breaks anything between now and then.