Lindor’s Laser in 12th Sends Cleveland Past Cincy; Indians 8, Reds 7
Bob Toth | On 19, May 2016
The Indians got a rare extra inning victory, using a Francisco Lindor solo home run in the 12th inning to give Cleveland an 8-7 win in Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Lindor, the leadoff man in the inning, worked the count full before lining a laser to the grassy patch in center with his third home run of the season, giving the Indians an 8-7 lead. Reliever Dan Otero made it a little interesting in the bottom half, giving up a two-out single to Billy Hamilton and a walk to Joey Votto before getting known-Indians killer Brandon Phillips to fly to Lonnie Chisenhall in right field to end it.
“He hit that ball and that had a different sound,” said Indians manager Terry Francona about Lindor’s game-winner after the game. “That was just a rocket. We needed something like that, because there was a lot of frustration.”
The win was the first in extra innings this season for the Indians (20-17), who finally pushed their record three games over the .500 mark this season. Very quietly, they have snuck within two and a half games of the American League Central leading Chicago White Sox, who dropped a fourth straight game to fall to 24-16. The Indians now trail the Sox by two and a half games.
With the loss, the Reds (15-25) have lost three straight and six of their last seven. The loss ensures that Cleveland will win the home-and-home series between the two clubs after sweeping the brief two-game set at Progressive Field earlier in the week.
The Indians had jumped on top against left-hander Brandon Finnegan after a pair of hits to lead off the second inning set the table for former Red Marlon Byrd. Jose Ramirez singled to right and moved to third on a deep double from Yan Gomes. Byrd lifted a fly to right that was caught by a sliding Jay Bruce, which enabled Ramirez to score easily with the game’s first run.
Cleveland doubled that tally an inning later as the red hot Rajai Davis cleared the wall with a solo homer to lead off the third. Cincinnati got that run back in the bottom of the fourth when, with two outs in the inning, Bruce homered to right off of Indians starter Mike Clevinger, making it a 2-1 Indians lead.
The Tribe doubled their run support for their rookie right-hander, making his Major League debut, after Kinpis led off the sixth with a double to center. He moved to third on a groundout from Lindor and scored on an error at third by Eugenio Suarez. The Indians kept the inning going as Ramirez singled to left to move Mike Napoli to second. After Gomes flied to center, Byrd grounded one to the left of second base for a single to center, driving in Napoli with the fourth run of the night and ending Finnegan’s outing.
The 4-1 lead would be shortlived, as the Reds would chase Clevinger from his debut effort and damage the Indians bullpen with some big hits. Zack Cozart singled to start the inning and moved to second on a bunt from Hamilton. Votto doubled both home with a shot to center to make it a 4-3 game. After Clevinger struck out Phillips swinging for the first out, he was lifted for Kyle Crockett, who allowed a single to Bruce to left center, putting runners on the corners and leading Francona to return to his bullpen once again in a double switch. Zach McAllister took over on the mound and promptly surrendered a three-run blast to Suarez, who more than made up for his run-allowing error the previous half inning.
Cleveland would get a run back in the seventh against the Reds bullpen after Davis walked, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout to second from Lindor. Kipnis, the potential tying run who had walked and advanced to second on the earlier wild pitch, was stranded at third base when Napoli flied out to center.
Cincinnati got what would prove to be an important insurance run for their struggling bullpen in the bottom of the eighth when Bruce homered for the second time on the night, this time leading off the inning against Indians reliever Jeff Manship, to make it a 7-5 ball game.
In the ninth, Tony Cingrani took over on the mound for the Reds, getting Carlos Santana to ground out for the first out. Chisenhall fell behind 1-2 before fouling off several pitches and working the count full before walking to cap the ten-pitch at bat. Davis, on a tear, homered for the second time in the game to tie the contest at seven and the game would head to extra innings after a 1-2-3 ninth from setup man Bryan Shaw.
Cleveland had two on in the tenth with two outs but could not score. Cincinnati went down in order until the 12th, but stranded the tying and winning runs on base against Otero.
Otero earned his first save of the season, while Cody Allen got his first win with two innings of scoreless relief.
Clevinger left with the lead and a chance to earn his first Major League win, but his bullpen could not prevent inherited runners from scoring and the lead from changing hands. He went five and one-third innings and was charged with four runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five, throwing 64 of 91 pitches for strikes.
“It was fun,” said Clevinger after the game. “It was definitely something that’s indescribable. I won’t forget it.”
The first pitch of his Major League career was lined to left by Reds shortstop Cozart. He struck out Votto for his first big league K.
“I thought he was good,” said Francona. “I thought he followed the glove pretty well. I thought he kept his composure real well. I thought his pitches were good. He made a couple mistakes late, but I don’t care if you’re coming up from Triple-A or you’re a vet, that’s Major League stuff. And he’s only going to get better with experience.”
“I felt the 30 minutes of puking of nerves got me really composed for when I went back out there,” Clevinger added. “That calmed me down, I feel like.”
FINNEGAN FALTERS AFTER ERROR
Finnegan appeared to be unnerved by the error in the sixth, leading to his exit. He worked five and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits. He issued no walks and struck out six. Like his pitching counterpart on the night Clevinger, he gave up one home run.
LINDOR THE GOAT
Cleveland’s hero on Wednesday, Lindor, has had himself an impressive little series against the in-state rival Reds. He has had three hits in each of the first three games of the series and is 9-for-17 overall with a homer and four runs batted in.
DAVIS DELIVERS AGAIN
Davis had two hits in the win and scored three more runs, including his two-homer, three-RBI contribution on Wednesday. In the first three games of the series, he has gone 7-for-12 with five walks, seven RBI, and nine runs scored.
“He’s the type of hitter that, when he gets hot, they’re going to come in bunches,” said Francona. “Good for him and good for us. We’re a different team when he’s getting hits. Now, when he hits home runs, that’s a bonus.”
BRUCE BOUNCING BACK
With his seventh homer of the season in the fourth, Bruce extended his hitting streak to five straight games. He is hitting .290 on the season while trying to bounce back from two disappointing years at the plate, from a batting average perspective. He hit .226 last season and just .217 during 2014.
His homer in the bottom of the eighth gave him two on the night. He now has 19 career multi-homer games.
The first of his two home runs also pushed him past Adam Dunn as the all-time home run leader at Great American Ball Park. That shot was the 127th of his career in Cincinnati.
“It’s kind of a cherry-picking type of deal,” said Bruce after the game. “I think it means more that I’ve been on one team long enough to have the record at their ballpark. The more time, the better.”
SUAREZ’S SHOT FALLS SHORT
Third baseman Suarez made up for a couple of tough plays in the field with his ninth home run of the season to give the Reds the lead late. It extended his hitting streak to six straight games and gave him three homers over the last four games.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Indians optioned outfielder Tyler Naquin to Triple-A Columbus to make room for Clevinger on the roster.
In a corresponding move, the team recalled right-handed reliever Jumbo Diaz from Louisville and selected the contract of pitcher Sampson from the same club. To make room on the 40-man roster for Sampson, starting pitcher Homer Bailey was transferred to the 60-day disabled list after a recent setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last May.
Rookie right-hander Tim Adleman (1-1, 3.38 ERA) will make his first career start against the Indians and first interleague appearance on Thursday night. It will be the fourth start in the career of the 28-year-old. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (5-0, 3.82) will not have to worry about playing the “stopper”, but will seek his sixth win to start the season.
Game time for Thursday’s finale is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo