Blake Parker, national hero?
Let’s set the scene, for those of you who didn’t stay up until 12am to watch a game between two teams drifting away from the playoffs.
Guardians and Royals were tied in the bottom of the 10th, right? Blake Parker is on the mound with the bases loaded and no outs, Carlos Santana up to bat. An impossible situation to be sure, right? This is it — death, destruction, the end of this very important Sept. 1 game between the Cleveland Guardians and Kansas City Royals. Right?
The thing is, though, Blake got out of it.
Blake Parker got put in the jam because Yu Chang misplayed a ball and made a poor throw to Bobby Bradley, who subsequently didn’t get a good handle on the ball and had it fly out of his glove when Whit Merrifield overran first base. Parker then walked Nicky Lopez, and with the Manfred Runner on third base, set up what looked like an unwinnable situation — bases loaded, no outs, bottom of the 10th.
Parker responded by striking out Salvador Perez and getting Carlos Santana and Michael A. Taylor to fly out.
You know the ending by now: the Guardians win 5-3, done deal. So, how’d we get here?
Things started pretty shakily for Logan Allen, who was coming off a promising start last week. He allowed four hits and two earned runs through the first two innings and leaned far too heavily on a fastball/slider combination that didn’t look like it was fooling anybody. But then something just kind of clicked. He settled down, stayed ahead in counts, and was able to turn in an impressive 6.2 innings of work.
All told, he allowed three runs (two earned, including a solo shot by Adalberto Mondesi in the fourth), with three strikeouts and two walks. Considering how his day started, it wasn’t a bad conclusion.
Also noteworthy on the pitching side of things was DeMarlo Hale’s bullpen usage. Not only did he allow Allen to finish off the bottom half of the lineup before switching him out ahead of the fourth time through the order, but he used Emmanuel Clase in the bottom of the ninth in a tied game. That’s right — he used his closer on the road in a tie game. Gasp.
It worked out, obviously, as Clase allowed a hit but worked his newfound deadly slider to escape unharmed and allow the Guardians to get into extras. Turns out that’s as important as closing out a win for superficial stats.
Offensively, outside of Yu Chang belting a home run and Harold Ramirez racking up a couple hits in his return, the lineup didn’t do much through regulation. Their eight hits as a group were spread out too much to do any damage, and they struck out a combined 11 times.
The Guardians’ frustrating inability to score in the top of the 10th also continued, even as they loaded the bases and had Franmil Reyes up to bat. Historically, walking José Ramírez to get to Franmil doesn’t usually work out. Tonight it did, though as Franmil harmlessly flew out to end the attempted rally.
In the bottom half of the 10th, well, see above.
The top of the 11th saw the Guardians finally score in extras as Austin Hedges hit a bloop single that scored Daniel Johnson from third and put Bobby Bradley on third. Yu Chang followed it up with a double. Unfortunately, Hedges got a little big for his britches and tried to score from first base — he was thrown out at the plate.
Speaking of, why was Hedges still in the game? Not only did he come up to bat multiple times in situations where your catcher probably shouldn’t be hitting, but he was the free runner in the top of the 10th and wasn’t pinch-run for. I think the obvious answer is that the Guardians don’t want to tempt fate and put in the recently promoted Gianpaul Gonzalez until they absolutely have to. Roberto Pérez is still rehabbing in Akron, and I would assume they are doing everything they can to keep Hedges playing until he’s ready to return.
The win seals their 10th straight over the Royals and sets them up for a sweep tomorrow. Their playoff outlook is still bleak as they sit 10 games back of the White Sox and 7.5 games back of the Wild Card.
But if Blake Parker can get out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th I guess anything is possible.