Tribe Walks Off With Win and First Place; Indians 3, Reds 2
By Mike Brandyberry
What a difference five minutes makes.
What looked like a game the Indians had thrown away with two wild pitches became a walkoff win when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run home run off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the tenth inning for an Indians 3-2 victory. The come from behind victory, along with the Chicago White Sox’s 2-1 loss, put the Tribe back in first place.
The homer was Cabrera’s fifth walkoff, game-winning hit and second walkoff home run. With the count at 3-1, he loaded up on a change up and drove the ball deep into the warm, summer air.
“The fact that he didn’t try to pull the ball and used the whole field against a guy like Chapman was just terrific,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Josh Tomlin and Mike Leake would each pitch strong efforts for their teams but not factor in the decision. Tomlin pitched well for the Tribe in a month that has seen the starting rotation struggle to find quality starts. However, Tomlin’s wild pitch in the first inning helped set up the Reds’ first run of the game.
“Today I felt in that first inning that I could get quick outs,” Tomlin said. “You just have to go out and grind them. They’re all big league hitters. If you make a mistake they are going to make you pay.”
Cincinnati struck immediately when Zack Cozart led off the game with a double off the left field wall. After a wild pitch by Tomlin to move him to third base, he was able to score on Chris Heisey’s infield hit up the middle past the pitcher. Tomlin worked through the middle of the order, but immediately trailed, 1-0.
The Indians had opportunities to score early, however were not able to capitalize. In the third inning Shin-Soo Choo walked with one out and Asdrubal Cabrera laced a base hit over the first baseman Joey Votto’s head. What should have been a clear double, with runners on second and third and one out, became a single when Jay Bruce gunned him at the second base bag. Jason Kipnis grounded out to first base to end the inning. Had Cabrera been safe at second, the ground ball would have scored a run and tied the game.
Cleveland finally cracked the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Carlos Santana laced a double down the right field line. Michael Brantley grounded to second base to move Santana to third before Casey Kotchman dropped a base hit in past a drawn in infield to score him and tie the game at one.
The Indians could have tacked on more because Jack Hannahan through the right side to put runners on first and second with only one out, but Shelley Duncan lined out to center field and Lonnie Chisenhall flew out to shortstop to end the inning.
Meanwhile Tomlin settled down after the first inning and cruised. The Reds barely mustered a scoring chance until the sixth inning when Cozart singled to lead off the inning, but Heisey grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to erase the scoring threat. With two down, Votto lined a ball into shallow right center field, but Choo made a sliding catch to end the inning.
In the seventh the Reds mounted a rally. Brandon Phillips started the inning with a base hit. After Jay Bruce flew out to center field, Ryan Ludwick walked. Scott Rolen grounded to first base, but a tricky bounce made it unable to attempt a double play. They forced out Rolen for the second out, but Tomlin walked Todd Frazier on four pitches. With 95 pitches on the evening, Tomlin was removed for Esmil Rogers with two out and the bases loaded.
Rogers battled Devin Mesoraco before striking him out on a 2-2 curveball to retire the side. Tomlin pitched six and two-third innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, two walks and two strike outs.
Leake was done after seven innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, striking out four and only walking a batter. He threw 114 pitches, including returning to the mound for the seventh with 105 pitches already on the odometer.
“It was a well pitched game by both sides,” Acta said. “Tomlin was fantastic. He threw 19 first pitch strikes and got some early outs and had a good breaking ball today. He pitched inside more effectively than last time.”
Vinnie Pestano worked an eventful but scoreless eighth inning, allowing Cozart to lead off the inning with his third base hit, but defensive plays by Kotchman and Kipnis retired Heisey and Votto, respectively. Kotchman went into the stands to catch a pop up and Kipnis made a play in shallow right field. After Hannahan booted a Phillips ground ball that would have ended the inning, Pestano retired Bruce with a fly out to Choo.
“The bullpen guys were great,” Acta said. “They were what kept us in the game after Josh was done.”
Chris Perez worked a scoreless ninth inning for the Tribe, while Sean Marshall relieved Leake. Marshall worked the eighth and ninth innings for the Reds, including working around a leadoff base hit by Brantley in the bottom of the ninth. Marshall proceeded to get Jose Lopez to ground out before striking out Hannahan and Aaron Cunningham. Each struck out while Brantley waited on second base for a game winning hit.
In the top of the tenth inning, after forcing out Willie Harris after a leadoff double, Heisey hit a broken bat ground ball to Hannahan. He was able to concentrate and retire the lead runner, but the bat probably interfered with his chances to turn a double play and end the inning.
With two outs, Nick Hagadone would enter the game and give up an infield hit to Votto, putting runners on first and third. Then, with Phillips at the plate, Hagadone bounced a pitch that got away from Santana just far enough for Heisey to score and give the Reds a 2-1 lead. Phillips would fly out to end the inning, but the damage was done.
The Indians would not go quietly into the night, however. Choo lead off the inning with a base hit to right center field to set the stage for Cabrera’s home run into the right field seats.
“Great win, very dramatic. Two of our top hitters in our lineup stepped up and had tremendous at bats,” Acta said. “Everyone remembers the walkoff by Cabrera which was a great at bat, but Choo before him had an outstanding at bat, just working the count and laying off some pitches to get the single.”
Despite falling behind in the tenth, Acta was clear that the team and coaching staff were still positive with the top of the lineup heading to the plate against Chapman.
“If the catcher can catch it, we can hit it I told them,” Acta said.
Tomorrow the Indians will try to sweep the series, just as the Reds did to them a week ago. Justin Masterson (3-6, 4.38 ERA) will try to stay hot on the mound against Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 3.84) at Progressive Field. Game time slated for 7:05 pm.
Photo: Getty Images