The Indians bullpen wasn’t so hot tonight. Worse yet, neither was the bullpen of the Boston Red Sox.
Both bullpens gave up leads, and the result was the Indians falling a game back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the hunt for the second Wild Card spot. Even worse, the Royals managed to put up a 10 spot on the Twins, which meant the Indians could have brought themselves within three games of the division lead if they could have snuffed out a team with nothing to play for. Still probably an insurmountable lead, but I’m looking for anything to get the Indians into the playoffs at this point.
Instead, they sit five games back in the division.
Past a thrilling second inning for the Indians, this game was a long-slow chug to eternity. Carlos Santana kicked things off with an RBI single, and three batters later Franiml Reyes got him home with a blistered single to center field. Oscar Mercado would homer in the second to give the Indians a 4-1 lead, then ... nothing.
From the third inning on, the Indians mustered just one hit and one walk. The only hit — a fifth-inning Kevin Plawecki single — was immediately undone when Yu Chang hit into a double play. In the top of the sixth, Bryce Harper provided the go-ahead run for the Phillies with a three-run homer, and Jay Bruce piled on with a solo shot two batters later. The Indians went through three pitchers that inning, including Zach Plesac facing three batters, but it didn’t matter.
I was all ready to praise Tito again for not letting Plesac get into too much trouble in the inning — he pulled him after his second hit allowed in the fifth. It was probably still the right move, but if Bryce Harper decides he’s going to hit a homer off you, he’s probably going to hit a homer off you. And he decided he was going to kill an Oliver Perez pitch.
If there was one bright spot in this game, it’s that Brad Hand struck out the side in his only inning of work. He threw his fastball four times with an average velocity of 94.1 miles per hour, and his slider induced a strike eight of the nine times he threw it. Overall you can’t ask for much more from a guy who was mysteriously sidelined for a weak with a “tired arm.”
If you’re into bad omens: Brad Miller — you know, the guy who chastised the Indians for not trying to field the best team when they cut him early in the season — had two home runs. That about sums up how this game went.