Cleveland Rocks Reds Behind Offensive Explosion; Indians 15, Reds 6
Bob Toth | On 16, May 2016
Down 4-0 heading into the bottom of the third and coming off of another rough weekend after dropping the final two games of their series with the Minnesota Twins, things were not looking good for the Cleveland Indians on Monday night in their series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
Four runs in the third, three more in the fourth, and five more runs in the sixth would change that story as the Indians used a season-high 19 hits to plate 15 runs and rocked the Reds, 15-6.
By the end of the game, there had been enough fireworks and excitement that it was difficult to remember that the Indians had been down four runs and an ominous feeling of doom filled Progressive Field as the slumping Indians offense, one that mustered just four runs in the final two games against a bad Twins pitching staff, had already found itself buried after Cody Anderson served up runs in each of the first three innings.
The Reds used a quick two-out scoring opportunity in the first to score in a blink of an eye. Joey Votto walked on four straight and scored on a double on the first pitch to Brandon Phillips, although he would very foolishly kill the rally by getting caught trying to steal third base with two outs. It would take just one swing in the second, as Adam Duvall homered on an 0-2 pitch to left to make it 2-0, and Eugenio Suarez followed the same script in the third, driving home Zack Cozart with a two-run homer to right center to make it a 4-0 game with no one out in the third against Anderson.
The Indians, who manager Terry Francona has praised time and time again this season for having a “never give up” attitude in the dugout, got right to work in the bottom of the third against Cincinnati southpaw John Lamb and made it a brand new ball game.
Marlon Byrd singled to right, moved to second on an infield single by Juan Uribe, and both advanced a base on Cozart’s throwing error. Rajai Davis singled to right, driving home Byrd with the Tribe’s first run. Jason Kipnis dropped down a bunt on his first pitch, moving both runners up 90 feet, and the move paid off big as Francisco Lindor drove both home with a double to deep center to make it 4-3. Mike Napoli then continued his clutch hitting as he singled to right, plating Lindor and making it a four all game.
Anderson needed just ten pitches to fly through the fourth, backed by his nifty double play ball on a heads up catch of a liner back at him off of the bat of Jordan Pacheco. The Indians got back to work, this time using some two-out magic of their own after Jose Ramirez led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on Uribe’s lineout for the second out. Davis walked and Kipnis singled to center, scoring Ramirez easily. Davis, hustling all the way, tried to score from first on that single and was thrown out at the plate, but upon Francona’s replay review, the call was overturned as Davis’s late (and awkward) slide evaded the tag of Reds catcher Ramon Cabrera. Lindor moved Kipnis to third with a single to right and Napoli again contributed with an RBI-single to right to make it a 7-4 Tribe lead.
The Reds loaded the bases in the fifth with one out on a single from Suarez, a double from Votto, and an intentional walk to Phillips by Anderson. He departed for Kyle Crockett, who after nine pitches gave up a single to left to Jay Bruce that scored two runners to make it a one-run game. Tommy Hunter entered in relief and needed just two pitches to get a double play ball to Kipnis to keep the score at 7-6.
The Indians loaded the bases in the fifth, but could not score. They made up for that in the sixth on a pair of souvenirs. Napoli walked on four straight against Reds reliever Layne Somsen with one out and moved to second on a single from Carlos Santana. Both would score as Yan Gomes homered to right to make it 10-6. Ramirez walked and, once again, a free base runner cost the Reds as Byrd homered to the bleachers in left against his old team to make it a 12-6 game.
Cleveland tacked on two more in the seventh as they loaded the bases for third time on the night after back-to-back singles from Kipnis and Lindor and a walk to Napoli. Santana drove one in with a sacrifice fly to right. Gomes drove in another with a sacrifice fly to left. Michael Martinez, who pinch-ran for Kipnis and scored in the seventh, came to the plate with two outs in the eighth and drove in Byrd with a double to the left field corner, aided by a fielding error from Duvall.
Byrd and Lindor led the way for the Indians with three hits each. Davis, Kipnis, Napoli, Gomes, and Ramirez each had two as every Cleveland starter got at least one hit on the night. Byrd scored three runs and Ramirez, Davis, and Lindor each scored twice as the Indians racked up season highs in runs and hits.
Cleveland improves to 18-17 with the win. Cincinnati falls to 15-23.
“We could always use those kinds of games,” said manager Francona postgame. “We did a real good job tonight. Kind of picking up. Not an easy way to win.”
ANDERSON UP, UP, AND AWAY
The long ball once again found Anderson. With two more home runs allowed on Monday night, he has allowed ten homers in just 32 2/3 innings pitched this season. By comparison, he allowed just nine in 91 1/3 innings last season. He is also just two earned runs short of matching the number of runs he allowed total across 15 starts last season, with the damage this season coming over seven games (six starts). He has allowed at least one home run in every appearance this season, including his start at Triple-A Columbus when he was bypassed in the Indians rotation earlier in the season.
Anderson allowed six runs on nine hits, walked two, and struck out two over four and one-third innings. He exited with 76 pitches thrown and in a bases loaded jam. Two of the runs he was charged came courtesy of Crockett, who allowed the two-run double to Bruce to make it a one-run game at the time.
HUNTER THE WINNER
Indians reliever Hunter (1-1, 2.57 ERA) earned his first win of the season, pitching one and two-thirds innings of scoreless, hitless relief. He required just ten pitches (seven strikes) to retire five outs.
Cincy starter Lamb (0-1, 5.79), making his third start of the season, got shellacked on the mound after allowing just single earned runs in each of his first two outings of the year. Pitching for the first time in eight days, he allowed seven runs on ten hits over four innings, walking two and striking out one.
DAVIS ENDS SLUMP
Davis, in the leadoff spot again, broke out of his 0-for-19 slump at the plate by reaching base safely in each of his first four trips on the night. He had singles in his first two at bats before drawing walks in his third and fourth plate appearances of the ball game.
GOMES LOCKED IN
The sixth inning shot from Gomes, down 0-2 in the at bat, was his sixth of the season and his third in as many games. The sudden outburst at the plate comes on the heels of an .048 (2-for-42) skid at the plate over his previous eleven games with just two RBI.
“I’m hitting the ball hard I guess,” said Gomes after the game. “I know I can hit. It’s just been one of those things where my confidence has gotten a hold of me. It gets frustrating.”
Gomes is 4-for-11 in his last three games with three homers and seven runs batted in. It was the first time in his career that he has homered in three straight games. His four RBI were a game-high on Monday.
The four runs scored in the third inning were the most runs scored by the Tribe in a single frame since a four-run third inning against Kansas City on May 6. They exceeded that just a few innings later.
TRYING SOMETHING NEW
The Indians have been involved in 13 one-run games in 2016, with eleven games being decided in the seventh inning or later. Nine-run games seem to be much more of a comfort zone for the club.
RARE DOUBLE PLAYS
The Indians and Reds entered Monday night as the worst clubs in their respective leagues at turning double plays. Cincinnati had just 22 on the season, and Cleveland owned an MLB-worst 21 twin-killings.
The Reds turned a 6-4-3 double play in the ball game, while the Indians turned in three on the day. The Kansas City Royals now take over at the bottom of the double play leaderboard in Major League Baseball.
The Indians were still without starting right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who remains sidelined on the bereavement list.
Danny Salazar (3-2, 1.90 ERA) looks to continue his strong 2016 campaign and reduce his walk wildness from his last outing as he takes the mound for the Tribe in the finale of their homestand. He is also seeking his first career interleague win (0-5, 4.57 in eight starts). Alfredo Simon (1-3, 8.67), back in Cincinnati after a season with the Detroit Tigers last year, will counter for the Reds.
First pitch on Tuesday night is scheduled once again for 6:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak