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Cleveland claws past Cubs in extra innings

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Offensive struggles were the theme of the game

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Amed Rosario came to the plate in the tenth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, to deliver the go-ahead run on an RBI single into right field, securing another narrow victory for Cleveland over the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, to complete the two-game sweep.

It was a mostly miserable afternoon for Cleveland offensively. They had runners on first and second in the first inning with no one out but failed to capitalize. The third and fourth innings both saw Cleveland ground into inning-ending double plays, before ending the fifth on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. After scoring a run in the sixth inning, the team failed to reach base in the final three frames prior to extra innings. It wasn’t until the tenth, when Cleveland walked the bases loaded to set up Rosario’s heroics, that the team was able to push across another run.

Sam Hengtes, making his first major league start, wasn’t bad. Consistent command continues to elude him, but his curveball was much more effective than it was in his last appearance, recording a 50% CSW%. Even his slider looked better, drawing two whiffs and five called strikes. If he can consistently throw his curveball and slider for strikes, opposing hitters will have to respect them and he could be a very effective starter. Hentges certainly held his own against the Cubs, pitching 4.2 scoreless innings. He notched six strikeouts and allowed four hits, distributing four walks.

Chicago broke the stalemate in the sixth inning against Nick Sandlin, who was tagged for his first earned run since joining the big league club. Sandlin recorded two outs before surrendering a double to Ildemaro Vargas. Bryan Shaw took over for Sandlin and gave up an RBI double to Joc Pederson. But the Cubs’ 1-0 lead was short-lived thanks to back-to-back doubles from Cesar Hernandez and Amed Rosario the very next half inning to even the score.

Cubs starter Zach Davies fared about as well as Hentges, though he lasted into the sixth inning and that proved to be one inning too many. Prior to the sixth, he had limited Cleveland to three hits over five scoreless innings. To the surprise of no one, Cleveland struggled to barrel up Davies’ changeup despite putting eight of them in play, but fared better against his sinker. Ultimately, they could only plate one run against him, walking twice and striking out four times.

But for as much as Cleveland’s lineup struggled in this series, the Cubs’ hitters weren’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard either. Chicago stranded runners in scoring position in the first, second, third, sixth, seventh, ninth, and tenth innings. The seventh was especially frustrating for the Cubs, as Cal Quantrill loaded the bases with two outs after giving up two singles and a hit-by-pitch. But Jason Heyward flied out to right to end the inning with no damage done.

In the ninth inning, Emmanuel Clase, whose workload is starting to give me anxiety, had another adventurous outing. With one out, Willson Contreras singled on an opposite field line drive before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Clase walked Anthony Rizzo to bring Javier Baez to the plate. Baez nearly grounded into an inning-ending double play but beat the throw to first to put runners at the corners with two outs. Clase nearly walked Nick Martini to load the bases, falling behind 3-0 in the count before inducing an inning-ending groundout.

James Karinchak pitched a scoreless tenth inning, though he issued a leadoff walk to Heyward. His outing was capped by a strikeout that saw Eric Sogard stare down a curveball that cut through the heart of the zone for a called third strike at the end of an eight-pitch at-bat.