Despite a fantastic start by rookie Aaron Civale and prime run-scoring opportunities in the bottom of the seventh and ninth the Indians came up short in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers.
Civale dazzled in his return to Cleveland tonight. He pitched six innings while allowing a single run and limited the Rangers to three hits and a walk. The problem is that one of the hits he allowed happened to be an Elvis Andrus triple. He scored on a sacrifice fly in the next-at bat.
I’m not even sure you can say that those events are Civale’s fault. Oscar Mercado nearly ranged all the way into right center for the out on Andrus’s triple, and he made an awkward throw home on the sac fly. Mercado’s arm rates out better than a two-hopper from the middle of the outfield, so I’m not sure what happened. A better throw would have nailed Andrus, but he was rewarded for testing the outfielder’s arm.
Civale worked efficiently, throwing 89 pitches in his six innings. He might have stretched out another inning, but with the entire bullpen available after Bieber’s complete game, Tyler Clippard replaced him for the seventh. He retired the side on six pitches, then stayed in and battle to hold the Rangers scoreless in the eighth. That turned into an adventure, as Clippard struck a batter out on three pitches except that actually no he didn’t because the ump blew a call and he ended up throwing four straight balls after that. He induced a double play, but then gave up a double and hit Shin-Soo Choo in the back. He struck out Danny Santana to avoid damage.
The Indians then called upon Hunter Wood for the first time, and allowed only a single to Nomar Mazara on his way to retiring the side.
Overall, pitching performed immaculately for Cleveland tonight. They were just out-punched by the Rangers. They had a couple of chances late in the game but couldn’t convert.
In the seventh, they had Mike Minor on the ropes as his pitch count rose beyond 100. Jordan Luplow reached on an infield single, and then Jason Kipnis bunted. It took a wicked bounce and squirted away from the defenders, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Franmil Reyes flew out, and then Luplow stole third. He slid into the bag awkwardly and for a moment it looked like he might be seriously hurt.
Fortunately, Mandy Bell announced that he left with only a cramp. Naquin took his place on the bag but it ultimately didn’t matter: Roberto Pérez struck out looking despite putting together an excellent at-bat, and Francisco Lindor rolled into a fielder’s choice.
Things got exciting again when José Ramírez doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.
OR DID HE? As it turns out, the ball landed juuuuuuuuust foul, and the Rangers challenged. The umpires took their headsets off and signaled for Ramírez to — — remain at second? Are... are you guys sure? Okay, I guess sometimes things really can break the Tribe’s way. I think it landed foul, though I concede the possibility that it just maybe kinda nicked the line.
Tyler Naquin bunted him over and nearly out-hustled the throw. With a runner on third and one out, Jason Kipnis slapped a slow roller to first. Ramírez couldn’t make it home, and Kipnis got thrown out. Franmil Reyes stepped up with the game on the line. He took a 2-0 fastball just up out of the strikezone and lined it into center field, right into the glove of Delino Deshields. Ballgame.
I was really looking forward to an off-the-rails excited recap about a Franmil Reyes walk-off bomb, but hey: at least he snapped his strikeout streak.