Have you ever seen the 1994 baseball classic Angels in the Outfield?
I only bring it up because tonight’s miraculous 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds felt like the product of divine intervention. If you told me that Christopher Lloyd — complete with a halo and wings — was up there at the plate with Franmil Reyes in the eighth inning, helping guide the barrel of his bat toward a sinker that would end up in the center field bleachers, I would believe you.
This road trip has been the worst stretch of baseball I’ve ever seen, and for the first six innings of Tuesday night’s game, I seriously wondered what it would take for this offense to show any signs of life. The answered turned out to be Reds reliever Pedro Strop, who took the mound in the seventh with no inkling of the bizarre events about to unfold at his expense.
I don’t even know how to accurately describe to you the events of the seventh inning, so I’m simply going to list them in order and allow you to interpret the sequence of events on your own:
- Franmil Reyes reached on an error
- Bradley Zimmer walked
- Jordan Luplow struck out swinging
- Sandy León flied out to right on the first pitch
- Oscar Mercado walked
- César Hernández reached on an infield single, scoring a run
- José Ramírez walked, scoring a run
- Francisco Lindor grounded out
Three walks, one error, one infield single, two runs scored, and a tie ballgame. The hardest hit ball of the inning was Reyes’ chopper to the shortstop, and that was with an exit velocity of 89.2 mph and a .160 xBA. I’ll be honest, I almost felt bad for Strop. What a brutal way to see a two-run lead erased against the worst lineup in Major League Baseball.
One inning later, with Nate Jones taking over for Strop on the mound, Reyes delivered the go-ahead runs courtesy of a two-run shot to center field — his first home run of the season.
Four runs seemed unthinkable through the first six frames, as Reds starter Tyler Mahle did what every opposing pitcher has done to the Indians’ lineup on this road trip. The Tribe was only able to muster one hit and two walks and appeared en route to yet another scoreless effort.
That would have hung Tribe starter Shane Bieber out to dry, who allowed his first two runs of the season — both of them solo home runs — but was effective enough to give the Indians a chance. He wasn’t quite as dominant as his first two starts, surrendering five hits, two walks, and two earned runs over 7.2 innings of work, striking out eight.
If you weren’t already sold on the presence of God in the Great American Ballpark, consider that Brad Hand came on for an uneventful ninth inning to secure the save.