Indians Hold Off Rangers’ Ninth Inning Rally; Indians 4, Rangers 3
Bob Toth | On 04, Apr 2017
In a game that showed early signs of being another high scoring slugfest, a seventh inning RBI from Michael Brantley proved to be the difference as the Cleveland Indians outlasted the Texas Rangers, 4-3, from Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday night.
Carlos Carrasco and Martin Perez faced off and both pitchers saw some early dramatics before settling down to put together good starts. Neither had much success in his career against the night’s opposition, but after the first couple of innings were out of the way, it was tough to tell.
Perez fell behind to start the game and saw his Rangers ball club trailing just one batter into the game as Carlos Santana sent a 2-1 pitch the opposite way and into the first row of the right field seats for a leadoff home run to put the Tribe on top, 1-0. Cleveland extended that lead in the next inning with a big two-out scoring chance after a one-out single from Brandon Guyer, who had made a fantastic running catch in right to start the home half of the first. Yan Gomes worked a walk after trailing two strikes and Austin Jackson, making his first regular season start for the Indians, delivered another early run with an RBI-single to center, scoring Guyer from second. Santana stepped in again with his second at bat in as many innings and followed Jackson’s lead with a single to center that scored Gomes from second to put the Indians up by three.
The Rangers’ offensive weapon from Monday’s season opener, Rougned Odor, got Texas going with a one-out single in the bottom of the second. After northeast Ohio native Ryan Rua grounded into a force out at second, young slugger Joey Gallo demolished a 1-0 Carrasco offering and relocated the pitch deep into the Globe Life Park upper deck for a two-run smash, cutting the Indians’ lead to 3-2.
Cleveland had Perez on the ropes in the third, but could not deliver the knockout blow. Brantley singled to start the frame and went to second on a walk by Edwin Encarnacion. With a chance to rip the game open, Jose Ramirez grounded up the middle. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus made a diving stop to his left, flipped the ball to Odor at second for the force before he completed the double play with a throw to first. Now with two down and a runner at third, Guyer lifted a fly ball to center for the third out.
Perez retired nine in a row beginning with the double play ball before walking Ramirez with one out in the sixth. Guyer would reach on an error on a hit to Gallo at third, but Ramirez was thrown out attempting to advance to third as he came off of the bag on his head first slide. Yandy Diaz grounded out to end the short circuited inning.
Carrasco saw little trouble the rest of his night, escaping a brief threat in the third as the Rangers ran themselves out of the inning. With one down, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left and went to third as Nomar Mazara ripped a shot into the right field corner. Guyer, already having a good day in the field, fired to second to nail the young Rangers outfielder trying to stretch his hit to two. With the situation completely changed, Mike Napoli was plunked by a breaking ball before Carrasco struck Odor out swinging to end the rally. Carrasco would retire the final nine he faced before handing the ball to Boone Logan with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Cleveland got an important insurance run in the top of the seventh against the Texas bullpen. Jackson reached on an infield single before Dario Alvarez came on in relief. Santana worked a lengthy at bat before drawing a walk to move Jackson into scoring position. After Francisco Lindor struck out swinging, Brantley delivered the big two-out base knock with a single to left-center, scoring Jackson with the fourth run on the night.
Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller each faced the minimum in the seventh and eighth before Cody Allen made it interesting in the ninth. Mazara reached on a double after slapping a pitch high and out of the strike zone down the left field line. Napoli doubled him home to make it a one-run game. Allen then took over, striking out the next three batters and leaving the tying run standing at second base in the form of pinch-runner Delino DeShields.
Carrasco earned the win in start number one of many this season, with Perez taking the loss for the Rangers. Allen earned his second save in as many days and has now struck out all six batters that he has retired on the season.
CARRASCO CRUISES AFTER SHORT SPRING
Carrasco entered Tuesday night’s game with a history of difficult outings against the Rangers, but he did not let that show despite a 1-3 career record against them in seven games with a 5.73 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. That ERA mark was at 6.23 in his three career starts when pitching in Arlington, entering the night.
Limited some in the number of pitches that he was set to throw after doing light work in spring training while monitoring a sore right elbow, the Indians’ right-hander made 78 pitches over five and two-thirds innings and struck out seven in earning his first win of the season. He was economical with his pitches, throwing 53 for strikes while allowing two runs on four hits with one batter reaching on a walk.
PARTY POOPED FOR PEREZ
The Rangers’ left-hander celebrated his 26th birthday, but the Indians were in no mood to give him any gifts. Coming off of a career year on the mound for Texas last season, Perez escaped some early trouble to go six innings. He was charged with three runs on five hits in his quality start, striking out four but walking four on the night.
It continues a stretch of tough results for Perez against the Indians. He came into the game with a career 12.46 ERA and a 2.42 WHIP in eight and two-thirds innings over three games. He dropped to 0-2 in three starts against Cleveland in his career with a 5.52 ERA.
Santana started the Tribe’s offensive attack on the night with his opposite field shot in the first inning. Making it an even more encouraging hit was that it came while hitting right-handed, as much of his power tends to show itself when he faces right-handers while hitting left-handed.
The leadoff homer was his first of the year and marked the sixth time in his career that he has started a game with a solo first inning blast from the top of the order.
DEUCES ARE WILD
Twos came up big throughout the night for the Tribe.
Cleveland scored two runs in the second inning. Santana had two hits and drove in two runs. Brantley had a pair of singles, as did Jackson in his first start for the club. Three of the team’s four runs driven in came via two-out hits. Carrasco allowed just two runs and Allen earned his second save.
CHIS READYING FOR REHAB
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall will inch another step closer to his return to the Indians lineup when he begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Friday. He is tentatively scheduled to play designated hitter on Friday and will follow it up with a day in the outfield on Saturday.
Chisenhall injured his shoulder crashing into a wall during Cactus League play and was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to March 30, prior to the start of the regular season.
SAYING FAREWELL UNTIL NEXT TIME
The Indians will look to make it a three-game season opening sweep of the Rangers on their home field on Wednesday night. Left-hander Cole Hamels will toe the rubber for the Rangers, looking to build on a positive first full season in the American League last year. In 32 starts, he went 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP with 200 strikeouts over 200 2/3 innings. One of those wins came in his last start against the Indians, when he fired eight innings of scoreless two-hit baseball with eight strikeouts. Right-hander Danny Salazar will counter for Cleveland. The 27-year-old led baseball with 37 strikeouts during the spring. He was an AL All-Star with Hamels last season when he made 25 starts and went 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA and 1.34 WHIP before injuries derailed his season in September.
The series finale from Globe Life Park in Arlington is scheduled for an 8:05 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: AP Photo/Brandon Wade