The Cleveland Guardians survived a blown call at home plate and a blown save by Emmanuel Clase in the 10th inning to prevail Tuesday night, scoring five runs in the 11th inning to beat the Chicago White Sox, 10-7, and secure the tiebreaker against their division rival.
Myles Straw delivered the go-ahead runs in the eleventh, lining a two-run double into left field to break a 5-5 tie. Steven Kwan followed with an RBI single to score Kwan, extending the Guardians’ lead to 8-5. Kwan would score on a José Ramírez sac fly, before Amed Rosario tacked on a final insurance run courtesy of an errant throw to third on a stolen base attempt.
Bryan Shaw took the mound in the bottom of the 11th inning with a 10-5 lead and went about reducing it to a 10-7 lead, giving up a two-run home run to A.J. Pollock. With two outs, he surrendered a ground-rule double to Seby Zavala, prompting a visit from pitching coach Carl Willis. The pep talk was enough to get Leury Garcia to hit a popout to short to end the game.
For the first five innings, it was a duel between Dylan Cease and Aaron Civale.
Cease did not have good command of his fastball, but he still managed to get by with his slider and knuckle curve. His only blemish came in the second inning. To lead off the inning, Andrés Giménez tripled near the foul line in left field before scoring on an Austin Hedges sac fly two batters later. Outside of that, Cease delivered a workmanlike six innings, only striking out three but limiting the Guardians to one run on four hits and three walks.
Civale, fresh off the injured list, was outstanding through the first five frames, only allowing three singles over five shutout innings. Unfortunately, manager Terry Francona evidently sought to further rest his already well-rested bullpen and tried to squeeze another inning out of Civale, who would be facing the White Sox lineup a third time through the order.
As you can imagine, that decision proved disastrous. Elvis Andrus reached on an infield single to lead off the inning, followed by a walk to Yoan Moncada that ended Civale’s night two batters too late. For reasons beyond my comprehension, Francona decided to bring in Nick Sandlin to defuse the situation. Sandlin promptly grazed the forearm of Jose Abreu to load the bases before giving up a first-pitch RBI single to Eloy Jimenez to tie the game at 1-1.
But the best is yet to come. After striking out Andrew Vaughn, Sandlin got A.J. Pollock to serve up a double play ball to Andres Gimenez, who tossed the ball to Amed Rosario at second. Rather than ending the inning with the score tied, Rosario threw the ball wide of first base, failing to complete the double play and allowing two runs to score for a 3-1 White Sox lead.
After the White Sox took the lead, Jimmy Lambert relieved Cease in the seventh inning and proceeded to walk both Owen Miller and Austin Hedges. Hedges advanced to third on a Myles Straw lineout to right-center, before Chicago pulled Lambert in favor of Aaron Bummer. Against Bummer, Steven Kwan singled on a first-pitch sinker to score Hedges and cut the deficit to 3-2. Two batters later and with two outs in the inning, Jose Ramirez legged out an infield single to plate the tying run, barely beating the one-hop throw to first from Elvis Andrus.
With runners on first and second, Josh Naylor lined a single through the left side of the infield and Rosario came around to score. In fact, he did score. The only person who thought he didn’t score was the home plate umpire, who called him out. As you can see, he was clearly safe:
Unfortunately, Cleveland had used their challenge on a stolen base attempt in the sixth inning and were unsuccessful in overturning the call, forcing them to surrender their challenge. If the play at home plate had occurred one inning later, the crew chief would have been able to call for a review, since rules permit the crew chief to call for a replay review of any play during or after the eighth inning. Instead, a blatantly incorrect call was allowed to stand.
Trevor Stephan and Enyel De Los Santos held serve in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to get the game to extra innings. The White Sox opted to intentionally walk Ramírez to get to Josh Naylor, who drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single. Ramírez advanced to third on the play and scored on an Oscar Gonzalez sac fly to give the Guardians a 5-3 advantage.
That would not be enough for Emmanuel Clase, unfortunately. After allowing Ben Sheets to reach on an infield chopper that bounced over his head, Clase got Andrus to ground into a run-scoring fielder’s choice. He struck out Yoan Moncada, but Andrus stole second to get into scoring position. After getting ahead of Jose Abreu with a 1-2 count, Clase hung a slider to him that Abreu lined into right-center for an RBI single, tying the game.
Thankfully, Cleveland took care of business in the 11th.
The Guardians’ magic number is down to nine.