Never-Quit Indians Complete Sweep of Tigers; Indians 11, Tigers 10
Craig Gifford | On 21, May 2014
By all accounts, the Cleveland Indians had no business winning Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Tigers at Progressive Field. After all, they were essentially dead and buried, three times.
First, the Tribe overcame a four-run deficit against one of the game’s best pitchers in Max Scherzer. Cleveland actually trailed 4-0 before the 2014 American League Cy Young winner threw a pitch. Then, the Indians climbed out of a two-run ninth inning hole against Joe Nathan, one of baseball’s better closers. Lastly, the Indians trailed 10-9 heading into the bottom of the 13th inning.
It was in that 13th in which the Indians finally broke through with not just the tying run, but the winning run. The winning run came in one of the more unlikely of fashions as Ryan Raburn was batting with the bases loaded and Al Alburquerque balked home the last run of a game that lasted more than five hours.
Cleveland’s 11-10 win finished off an unlikely three-game sweep of the American League Central Division leaders. The Tribe improved to 22-25 and is now just seven and a half games out of first after starting the day on Monday 10 and a half games back.
“That’s one of the more fun games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Obviously you want to come out with the win. Either way, we took steps this week toward getting that chemistry, that personality. I thought those three games were important for us in a number of ways. We did so many things right. Obviously, we made some mistakes. But, we picked each other up and looked to pick each other up. That was a good thing and it showed on the score board.”
The Indians simply had a never-say-day attitude all day that eventually culminated with the decisive 13th frame. With the scored tied at 9-9, Alex Avila broke the stalemate with a home run off Josh Tomlin, which gave the Tigers a one-run lead and a second chance on the day to close the game out with a win. Tomlin, a starter, was in as the Tribe had already gone through seven relievers and Cody Allen was not available.
With Nathan already out of the game, it was Phil Coke trying to lock down the Detroit victory in the 13th. With two on and one out, the hero of Tuesday night’s victory, Michael Brantley, came up with a base hit that tied the game at 10-10. Two batters later and with the bases loaded with two down, that’s when Raburn stepped in and the walk-off balk ensued.
Scherzer, who entered the game with a 6-1 record and ERA below 2.00, could not make his early lead stand up, allowing the Tribe to score six unanswered runs and eventually take a 7-5 lead.
As for Nathan, who had save 11 games this year, he could not hold a 9-7 lead in the ninth, as David Murphy delivered a one-out, two-run home run that tied the score. It was Murphy’s fifth long ball of the season.
By the time the game ended fans likely forgot Zach McAllister started the contest for Cleveland. The Tribe ran the entire gamut of its bullpen and even had to turn to tomorrow’s scheduled starter, Tomlin. Francona said he is not sure who will get the nod in tomorrow night’s game. Having to go so deep into the bullpen, only added to the weirdness of Wednesday’s game.
“Normally when a stater leaves that early, you’re just trying to finish the game and leave the bullpen in order,” the Tribe skipper said. “You’re not usually trying to protect a lead.”
McAllister’s day got off to a rocky start and he was save by the fact Cleveland’s offense was so good. The Tribe starter surrendered four runs in the top of the first inning, putting Cleveland behind 4-0 right out of the chute. Four of Detroit’s first five batters reached base, topped off by a two-run home run off the bat of J.D. Martinez.
In such an early hole against the reigning Cy Young winner, things looked bad for the Indians. They began clawing back with a run in the bottom of the first when Michael Bourn led off with a double and eventually scored on a David Murphy sacrifice fly.
Cleveland exploded for five runs in the second, taking a 6-4 lead. The inning started quietly, with Carlos Santana flying out. It was then back-to-back doubles from Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Aviles that really got things going.
It appeared Scherzer might get out of the frame, allowing just a single tally when Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out, leaving runners on second and third with two down. However, Michael Brantley singled home a pair, Murphy doubled home a run and Nick Swisher collected a run-scoring single to close out the big inning for the Tribe.
With a two-run lead, McAllister gave one of those back, surrendering a solo homer to Victor Martinez in the third. A walk later, and McAllister’s day was done two batters into the third inning and the Indians leading 6-5. Reliever Scott Atchison relieved and got Cleveland out of the stanza.
The Indians pushed their lead back to two on a third-inning bomb off the bat of Chisenhall. For Chisenhall, who has hit for a high average this season, it was his first home run of the season.
It was not enough, yet, against a Tigers team that is in first place for a reason – one of which being an elite offense. Detroit plated two runs in the fifth, tying the game at 7-7. They picked up another two scores in the eighth, taking what appeared would be a back-breaking 9-7 edge.
The Tribe offense got to work, however, in getting the game to extra innings.The Indians, following a disappointing weekend sweep at the hands of Oakland, finished their six-game home-stand at – . They will now take to the road, beginning a four-game series tomorrow in Baltimore. It remains who will fill Tomlin’s spot as the starter, while the Orioles will Wei-Yin Chen to the mound. The Tribe will also visit the White Sox for a trio of games on what will be seven-game road trip.
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo