Tribe Rallies for Three in Ninth to Walk Off with Sweep; Indians 6, Marlins 5
Bob Toth | On 04, Sep 2016
Lonnie Chisenhall’s bloop single to right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth capped a three-run rally by Cleveland as the Indians completed the sweep of the Miami Marlins in walk-off fashion on Sunday afternoon, 6-5.
It was a back and forth kind of game, but all the action was back-loaded into the final three innings, as both teams combined to score just one run through the first six innings. After Cleveland briefly took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, Miami tied it in the eighth and took a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning, when a little bit of that old two-out magic was back at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
Marlins closer and All-Star Fernando Rodney (2-4, 2.81 ERA) took his place in the center of the diamond, looking to help Miami avoid a costly sweep in Cleveland. The right-hander had no comprehension of the strike zone, walking pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer and leadoff man Carlos Santana on eight straight pitches. He finally found the zone with Jason Kipnis in the box, but he was called out on a checked swing as both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Francisco Lindor flied to medium deep center, not deep enough to score Guyer, as the Indians came down to their final out. Mike Napoli stepped in and was walked on four straight, loading the bases for the Indians captain of all things clutch, Jose Ramirez, who fell behind 1-2 before slicing a pitch low and away through the hole in the left side of the infield to score both Guyer and Santana to tie the game at five. Chisenhall, who entered the day in a lengthy slump at the plate, lifted a sinking fly towards the line in right. Ichiro Suzuki charged and dove, but could not get close enough to make the catch, allowing pinch-runner Michael Martinez to score the winning run from second base as Cleveland completed the improbable comeback.
“Ichiro, he’s still moving very well out there,” said Chisenhall about his defensive counterpart. “He gets good reads. He came really close. I was hoping. You never know, but I was hoping.”
Cleveland (79-56) has now won each of its first six games on its current ten-game homestand and took care of another interleague opponent. They finished the season with a 13-7 mark against the NL East and the Cincinnati Reds and have now won five straight games against Miami. Their lead in the AL Central held at five and a half games after Detroit defeated Kansas City Sunday afternoon. The downward spiral of the Marlins (68-69) continued as the club has now lost eight of its last nine to fall four games in back of the second NL Wild Card spot after the sweep and eleven and a half behind the division leading Washington Nationals.
It was a bizarre and exciting end to a game that had been a tightly contested pitchers duel all afternoon long.
Salazar showed another positive step in the right direction for the Tribe, as he struck out two in the first and another in the second. The Marlins found the scoreboard in the third, as that run would stand up for four more innings. Local product Derek Dietrich doubled to left and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Salazar. A walk to former Indian Chris Johnson put runners on the corners for Miguel Rojas, who grounded into a fielder’s choice to first as Santana fired to the plate and catcher Chris Gimenez whiffed on the catch. Safe at the plate on the error, the Marlins took a 1-0 lead. With two in scoring position, Suzuki flied to center before Salazar struck out Jeff Francoeur and Martin Prado to curtail the threat.
Koehler pitched one of his best outings of the season, keeping the Indians off of the scoreboard for six innings. He allowed hits in the second and third and put two on in the fourth, but worked out of it with a force out and a strikeout. He bounced back the next inning with a pair of strikeouts and erased a leadoff Kipnis walk on a double play ball from Lindor to end any scoring chances in what would be his final inning on the mound.
The Marlins touched up the Indians bullpen in the seventh after a defensive lapse left an out unturned. With one down, Rojas reached against Dan Otero as Lindor could not make the play at short. Suzuki moved him to second on a single and after Francoeur struck out for what could have been the final out, Prado singled to center, driving in Rojas with the Marlins’ second run of the day. Bryan Shaw relieved and retired Christian Yelich to end the inning, but Shaw’s name would come up in a bad way the next frame after the Indians got on the board.
After six innings of scoreless baseball, the Marlins’ Don Mattingly turned to Kyle Barraclough on the mound. He allowed a leadoff double by Ramirez and the Indians third baseman would come around to score one out later on a single by Abraham Almonte. Rajai Davis entered the game as a pinch-runner and picked off second base immediately. He moved to third as Tyler Naquin grounded out for the second out, bringing Coco Crisp to the plate as a pinch-hitter for catcher Gimenez. Crisp walked and stole second, leading to a walk of Santana to load the bases for Kipnis. He delivered with a two-run single up the middle, scoring both Davis and Crisp to give Cleveland its first lead of the day, 3-2.
Shaw returned to the mound to start the eighth, but on the second pitch of the inning, his string of 17 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run ended as J.T. Realmuto just barely cleared the wall in left for a game-tying solo home run. Shaw would strike out Xavier Scruggs before handing the ball to Andrew Miller, but after he retired his two to end the inning, he ran into trouble in the ninth.
Rojas doubled on the first pitch of the inning and was lifted for pinch-runner Dee Gordon. The speedster scored on a double to right by Suzuki, who worked a lengthy at bat fouling pitches off before breaking the tie. Cody Allen entered and Francoeur sacrificed Suzuki to third before Prado drove him home with a sacrifice fly to left to make it a 5-3 game.
Despite the rare rough outing by Miller and the game-tying home run allowed by Shaw, all was not lost, as the suddenly revived Indians offense won it with the three runs with two down in the ninth.
SALAZAR SETTLING IN
Salazar took the no-decision but again showed signs of the pitcher that he was earlier in the season. He lasted five and two-thirds innings in the game, allowing just one run on six hits with a pair of walks and eleven strikeouts. It marked the second consecutive start with double digit strikeouts for the hard-throwing right-hander and his third of the season.
KOEHLER CRUISES IN NO-DECISION
Koehler, who was in search of his tenth win to even his record, took the tough no-decision as his bullpen mates gave up six runs over the final three innings to blow the winnable ball game.
Koehler lasted six innings, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks while striking out six. It was a much better result for the 30-year-old right-hander on the mound, after he allowed five earned runs on ten hits in five innings in a loss to the Mets his last time out.
CHISENHALL SWEEPS THE LEG
Marred in an 0-for-16 slump to start the afternoon, Chisenhall broke that slide with a single to right in the second inning that he hit while nearly kneeling on the ground.
His game-winner in the bottom of the ninth was his second career walk-off hit and the ninth by the Indians this season, second in all of baseball (Houston – 10).
RAMIREZ AN UNSUNG HERO ALL SEASON LONG
Ramirez continued to provide big hits in the clutch for the Indians, but on Sunday, he provided hits all game long. The third baseman was 4-for-5 at the plate with a run scored and two runs driven in while pushing his season batting average back up to .310.
His double in the seventh off of Barraclough was his 36th of the season. That mark leads the team and is fifth-best in the American League.
FRANCONA NOT IN DUGOUT FOR COMEBACK
Manager Francona was not guiding his team in the dugout during their ninth inning rally after being ejected earlier in the inning by Joe West, whose strike zone left something to be desired all game long.
After Kipnis was called out on a check-swing for the first out of the inning by third base umpire Mark Ripperger, Francona exited the dugout and was promptly ejected by West for arguing the call.
OZUNA A NO-GO
All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game, missing the entire series in Cleveland, with a sore left wrist that he injured making a diving catch against the New York Mets on Wednesday.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
The Indians will face their last regular season opponent from outside of the American League Central Division this week as they host the Houston Astros for four straight games.
The ‘stros, trying to keep pace in the AL Wild Card race, will send right-hander Mike Fiers (9-6, 4.31) to the mound in the series opener looking to put out the Tribe’s red hot fire. Cleveland will opt for a bullpen game as right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-1, 5.30) will make the start but will only pitch a few innings at most. Josh Tomlin, whose turn in the rotation is being skipped, will be available in the Indians bullpen for the contest.
Labor Day’s first pitch is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET start.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images