Celebration in Cleveland Continues with Late Comeback; Indians 7, Rays 4
Bob Toth | On 20, Jun 2016
There was no letdown in Cleveland on Monday night as the Indians came back from an early deficit, scratching across solo runs for four straight innings before a pair of eighth inning blasts sent the club to a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The game got off to a bad start quickly, spoiling a little bit of the high that the city of Cleveland was riding on in the wake of the NBA championship claimed by the next door neighbors, the Cavaliers, on Sunday night. Several errors and baseballs repurposed as souvenirs could have ruined the fun, but the Indians were not having it.
With Josh Tomlin on the mound in search of his ninth win of the year, Brad Miller reached on an error at second base by Jason Kipnis with one out. Two pitches later, Evan Longoria continued his home run barrage with a no-doubt blast to the Home Run Porch to give the Rays a very early advantage.
Left-hander Drew Smyly, possibly remembered by Indians fans for his stay in Detroit at the beginning of his career, kept the Tribe off of the bases in the early going, allowing a two-out double to Francisco Lindor in the first before retiring eight straight, including four on strikeouts. But Lindor got him again in the fourth, sending a one-out single to left to start a scoring opportunity for the Indians. Mike Napoli jumped on his first pitch and lined a screamer into left to put two on. Lindor stole third easily with Carlos Santana at the plate, and the Cleveland first baseman grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Napoli forced but Lindor crossing the plate with the first run of the night for the Tribe.
The two teams would continue to trade off runs for several frames, as the Indians would cut the deficit to one again in the fifth. With one out, Yan Gomes reached on an infield single. He moved to second with two outs on a single to right from Rajai Davis and scored on a single to left by Kipnis. Both runners would move up on a double steal, but Lindor grounded out to end the threat.
Miller continued his good game at the plate with a first-pitch homer deep to right to lead off the sixth inning to again extend the Tampa lead back to two. His 461-foot shot is the longest this season at Progressive Field or by a Rays player. Not to be outdone, Santana stepped to the plate with one down in the sixth and tried to catch Miller’s drive with a full moon shot to Heritage Park in center field to make it a 4-3 game.
Tomlin shut the Rays’ scoring machine down in the seventh, allowing the Indians to finally tie the game. Gomes started the rally with a double to left, moved to third on a sacrifice from Michael Martinez, and scored on a risky play on a sacrifice fly to medium deep right field off of the bat of Davis, as the throw was up the line.
Bryan Shaw (1-0) took over for Tomlin in the eighth and struck out the side on 17 pitches, setting the stage for another dramatic ending on this homestand.
On the first pitch from reliever Erasmo Ramirez, Lindor lined a homer over the fence in right to give Cleveland its first lead of the night, 5-4. Santana singled with one out and after a line out from Jose Ramirez, Juan Uribe cleared the wall in center field with a two-out, two-run blast to give closer Cody Allen plenty of insurance for his easy ninth. He struck out Corey Dickerson swinging, needing a throw from Gomes to first as the ball went to the backstop, to earn his 14th save in 16 opportunities this season.
The Indians (39-30) extended their lead in the American League Central Division to a full game, as the second place Kansas City Royals were idle on Monday. Cleveland is now a season-high nine games above the .500 mark and has won nine straight home games (21-12 at Progressive Field in 2016), tied with the Royals for the longest home winning streak this season.
“There’s always an advantage playing at home. We’re starting to feel the excitement of the fans,” said Gomes. “Man, once you get fans coming in and cheering for you, no matter what you do, there’s definitely an advantage. There’s definitely momentum building, it’s easier to build momentum.”
The Rays (31-37) have now dropped five straight games and remain in last place in the AL East. They have lost three straight to Cleveland this season.
LINDOR LIVES FOR CLUTCH
What can’t Lindor do?
He had another three-hit game on Monday in four trips to the plate, his 13th such game this season and the most in the Majors. His first pitch homer to lead off the eighth was his eleventh go-ahead RBI this season, a team-high. It also marked the 20th time that the Indians have homered on the first pitch of an at bat this season.
QUALITY EFFORT FROM TOMLIN
Starter Tomlin may not have been at his best, but he did enough to keep the game close. He worked seven innings in a no-decision, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits. He issued no walks while striking out three, but was hurt by a pair of big home runs by the Rays.
“We had the error in the first inning and he hung a cutter. Then he hung a breaking ball to Miller,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “He doesn’t walk anybody. You can’t run on him. And he competes like crazy. You look up, he’s still out there pitching giving you a chance to win.”
The Indians are 11-2 in games that Tomlin starts this season.
“The thing with him, he’s going to battle no matter what,” said Gomes of Tomlin. “I mean, he could give up a couple of homers, he’s going to give you seven innings, eight, whatever. He’s going to keep us in the ball game. You’ll never see him lose his cool. You know what, he has a tendency of giving up solo shots, which don’t really end up hurting you in the end.”
SWEET SWINGING SANTANA
Santana’s 15th shot of the season was a monstrous clout deep to Heritage Park that tied him with Napoli for the team lead. It was estimated at 456 feet. It was just the second time this season that he has slugged a homer from the right side of the plate.
His homer extended the Indians’ streak to games with a home run to eight straight.
For the third straight game since returning from his unpleasant injury, Uribe has homered. It is the first time in his 16-year career that he has homered in three consecutive games.
SHAW STRIKES OUT SIDE
Shaw earned his first win by shutting down the Rays in the eighth, striking out the side in doing so, another much needed strong effort from the Indians setup man.
“Early in the season, the first whatever, two weeks, his ERA was inflated, kinda like Cody’s a little bit,” said Francona. “And then he went on the road trip and he had some hiccups, bumps, whatever you want to say. So his ERA, he’s going to have to live with that. Fortunately, he’s strong enough where he can because we need him. Normally when he pitches, if it’s the eighth and it’s the middle of the order, that’s when he pitches. That’s a lot to ask of guys. He can do it and for us to be as good as we want, we need him pitching really well.”
In an unusual example of good control and aggressive hitters, neither pitching staff issued a walk in Monday night’s game.
THIRD STRAIGHT NO DECISION FOR SMYLY
The southpaw Smyly kept the game close, but the Indians steadily chipped away against him when facing him for the third time through. He lasted seven innings, giving up four runs on eight hits (including one home run) while striking out five.
He has not earned a win since May 16th.
LONGORIA LOVING THE LONG BALL
The first inning homer from Longoria was his 18th of the season. Half of that total has come in the month of June, as he has homered nine times in the last 15 games.
MAHTOOK EXITS EARLY
Tampa’s Mikie Mahtook left the game early after being hit by a pitch by Tomlin in the second inning. He was replaced by Motter in the bottom of the third. He has been diagnosed with a broken left hand, another in a long line of injuries depleting the ranks for the Rays this season.
Game two between the Indians and Rays is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field on Tuesday night.
Photo: AP Photo/Ron Schwane