A Walk-off Win is Exactly What the Doctor Ordered; Indians 5, Tigers 4
Danny Madden | On 19, May 2014
When a team is in a slump, sometimes a visit from the Doctor can help turn things around.
After battling the entire game, the Indians were able to pull out a win against the Tigers. Michael Brantley’s All Star season continued tonight as he became the hero of the game with his walk off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Corey Kluber was on the hill for the Indians tonight who is coming off of solid start against Toronto. With the Indians in a losing skid, they needed a solid start from Kluber, and that is exactly what they got. Lefty Drew Smyly was on to pitch for the Tigers. Even though his ERA sat at 2.70 coming into tonight’s game, he couldn’t find his control tonight which inevitably came to bite him, as he only lasted five innings and gave up three runs.
For the fourth game in a row, the Indians scored first in the bottom of the first inning. After a quick beginning to the inning in the top of the first, Kluber almost hit Miguel Cabrera with his first pitch to him. Cabrera eventually struck out and had a few choice words to Kluber as he was walking off the field.
The Indians came into the game desperately trying to find some way to change their recent fortunes. After a strike out from Michael Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera takes advantage of being moved up into the two spot and got a single for the first hit of the game. A fly out from Brantley and two consecutive walks to Ryan Raburn and Carlos Santana loaded the bases for Yan Gomes. With Gomes at the plate, Smyly made his first mistake of the game and threw a wild pitch past catcher Alex Avila to allow Cabrera to score from third. The Indians only grabbed a 1-0 lead though after Andrew Romine made a great play at short to end the bottom of the first.
The lead was quickly taken away after Kluber gave up a leadoff home run to Victor Martinez. For Martinez, this was his eleventh home run of the season and he continues to hit the cover off the ball in Progressive Field. This home run brought the score to a 1-1 tie. After a single by Nick Castellanos and a walk to Avila, Kluber came back to strike out the next two batters to end the inning. Response runs have been such a problem for Indians pitching this season. It is difficult to hold on to a lead if the opposition continues to score after the Indians grab a lead.
Smyly had an easy 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second after facing Nick Swisher, Jesus Aguilar, and Mike Aviles. Kluber came back in the third and gave up a single to Cabrera which was turned into a double after Raburn misplayed the ball in right field. After opting to intentionally walk Martinez, Kluber threw a pitch over Gomes’ head to allow Cabrera to move up to third base. The wild pitch from Kluber was the second on the night between the two clubs. Kluber eventually worked his way out of the inning with no damage done.
Brantley laced a double to deep right with two outs in the third, which increased his hitting streak at home to sixteen games. After Raburn walked for the second time in the game, Santana grounded out to end the inning. The Indians woes with runners in scoring position continued to plague them tonight.
The top of the fourth flew by as Kluber struck out the side and brought his strike out total up to six in four innings. For the Indians though, they were able to load the bases for the second time in the game. A leadoff single from Gomes, a walk from Swisher and an infield single for Bourn juiced the bases for Cabrera. He ended up flying out to first to end the fourth and left the bases loaded.
The dominance of Kluber continued as he set down three more Tigers, one of them coming from a strike out to Torii Hunter. The Indians came around to do some much needed damage to Smyly. Raburn drove a solid single into center, and Gomes was able to draw Smyly’s fifth walk of the game. Swisher came to the dish and drove in the second Indians run of the game with an RBI single scoring Raburn. Not only was this nice to see because it gave the Indians the lead, but the offense was able to get a hit with a runner in scoring position. This type of hit has been a mystery for the Indians this season. Aguilar came around to get his first hit of his MLB career with a sharp single to left field. The ball was smothered by Romine who was playing back in left, but he couldn’t contain the ball quick enough to throw out Aguilar. Gomes scored and brought the score up to 3-1 Indians.
The sixth inning was much like the fifth for the Tigers. Cabrera led off the inning with a single, but Martinez erased that hit with a double play. Before that single to Cabrera, Kluber had set down seven consecutive Tigers. Don Kelly then flew out to end the sixth.
The Indians threatened again in the sixth against lefty Phil Coke in relief of Smyly. A double by Cabrera, and a walk to Brantley set up the inning, but Raburn struck out and Santana flew out to end that threat. After the sixth inning, the Indians had left eleven men on base.
The seventh inning was not so pretty for Kluber, who had been pitching a solid game up to this point. A leadoff single by Castellanos and a double by Avila put two men in scoring position for the Tigers with no outs in the inning. After a line out by Romine, Rajai Davis came to the plate and drove a double to center to drive in Castellanos and Avila to tie it up at 3-3. The double to Davis would have been a single to any other player, but the speed of Davis was able to get him to second with ease. Kluber was able to get out of the inning with no more damage being done.
Response runs have been such a detriment to the Indians so far this season, but in the seventh inning, they were able to get some response runs of their own. Gomes led off the inning with an infield single, and Swisher followed with a single of his own. Gomes hustled to third while Swisher was tagged out at second. With one out, Aguilar got his second RBI of the night with a sac fly to center after getting himself into an 0-2 count. So after getting his first MLB career hit, Aguilar also got his first two career RBI’s.
Manager Terry Francona opted to bring Kluber back out for the eighth inning, but that was short lived after Cabrera led off the inning with a single. He was quickly removed with Bryan Shaw coming in to relieve him to face Martinez. With Cabrera on first, Martinez hit a sharp grounder to Aviles who was able to turn it to Santana at second to start the double play. Santana was not able to turn the double play after he dropped the ball trying to quickly transfer the ball from his mitt. This was a moot point anyway as Shaw was able to strike out Kelly and get Castellanos to fly out to left. Indians still leading 4-3.
Ian Krol came in relief of Coke in the eighth inning. After getting Bourn to strike out and Cabrera to ground out, he came around to hit Brantley and give up a single to Raburn. Santana then flew out to center to leave two more men on base. Cody Allen was then summoned from the bullpen to close out the game in the ninth.
Allen, who wasn’t able to get a single out in yesterday’s contest after he had given up three runs on two hits had his first pitch to Avila hit on the ground to Aguilar for the first out of the inning. His third pitch though was solo shot to center by pinch hitter J.D. Martinez to tie the game up at 4-4. Davis flew out, but Kinsler kept the inning alive with a double to center after Bourn misplayed the ball. A strike out to Hunter ended the top half of the ninth. The Indians hoped for some magic tonight as they were desperate for a win.
Joba Chamberlain was called from the pen to face the Indians in the ninth to face Gomes, Swisher and Aguilar. Between the three of them, they were hitting 5-9 with 3 RBI’s in tonight’s game. Gomes added on his third hit of the night with a leadoff single to left. Swisher struck out for the first out, and Lonnie Chisenhall entered the game as a pinch hitter for Aguilar. Chisenhall is one of the hottest hitters on this team with a .364 average, but he only plays against right handed pitchers. Chisenhall singled to left and the Indians were threatening in the ninth with two men on and one out with Aviles at the plate. The Indians bad luck continued though as Aviles grounded out to Castellanos who completed the double play to end the inning. Cleveland fans were granted some free baseball as the game was sent to the tenth.
Scott Atchison (1-0) came on to pitch in the tenth, and the Indians made some interesting defensive changes. With Chisenhall pinch hitting for Aguilar in the ninth, with Swisher playing DH, and Santana removed in the ninth when Aviles was moved to third, Chisenhall was forced to play first base. This was only his second appearance at first base, his first was back during the Tampa Bay series. The first out of the inning was a liner from Cabrera to Jose Ramirez at second, who came in to play when Aviles was moved to third in the ninth. Martinez and Kelly then followed with two ground outs. An easy 1-2-3 inning for Atchison.
The Tigers elected to go with Al Alburquerque (1-1) in the tenth to face Bourn, Cabrera and Brantley. Bourn grounded out to the pitcher, Cabrera struck out, and Brantley’s incredible season continued as he slammed a walk off home run to right. The Indians won it tonight in walk off fashion for the second time of the season. With his home run tonight, Brantley now has nine home runs on the season to go along with thirty-three RBI’s.
This was a much needed win for the Indians which broke their four game losing streak. If the Indians continue to play a clean game, and keep up clutch hitting, then they can begin to claw their way out of the hole they’ve worked their way into. Brantley, Gomes, Raburn, and Swisher all had multiple hits tonight which is something that needs to happen more often.
The Tribe goes back at it again tomorrow night with Trevor Bauer (0-1, 1.50) getting the bump for his second start of the season to face All Star Justin Verlander (5-2, 3.15) for the Tigers. The game is set to start at 7:05 at Progressive Field
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo