Big Game from Gomes Helps Indians Complete Texas Sweep; Indians 8, Astros 6
Bob Toth | On 21, May 2017
Yan Gomes matched a career-high with five RBI on Sunday as the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros behind an 8-6 victory.
The Indians (23-19) have been one of the best teams on the road in the Majors this season and they used that to their advantage once again in handing the Astros (29-15) a third straight loss for just the second time this season. Cleveland’s three-game sweep in Houston completed a perfect 6-0 record in the state of Texas this season, combined with the Indians’ three-game season opening sweep of the Rangers in April.
By the midway point, the game felt very much out of reach. The 8-6 final score was not indicative of the previous five games in the season series between the Indians and Astros, all of which had been decided by two runs or less. The final score would equal those results, but three big innings by the Indians early put the game out of reach as the Astros would post three late runs in mop-up time.
Cleveland jumped out in front in the second inning off of right-hander Joe Musgrove, making his first start against the Indians and his first start against an AL Central foe in general. Edwin Encarnacion got his bat going early with a double to left-center. He moved to third on a groundout by Lonnie Chisenhall and came in to score on a double to left by Gomes, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. After a walk by Bradley Zimmer and a strikeout by Erik Gonzalez (who made the start so Jose Ramirez could get a day off), Jason Kipnis drove home Gomes with a single to right. Francisco Lindor would strike out swinging with runners on the corners, but the Indians were out to a 2-0 lead.
The Indians rallied with two outs to respond in the third. Encarnacion once again was involved in the offense as he drew a five-pitch walk after two were retired. Chisenhall followed with a walk of his own and the pair trotted home on a three-run homer by Gomes, making it a 5-1 game.
The Cleveland bats continued to do work in the fourth, bringing an early end to Musgrove’s afternoon. Kipnis and Lindor each singled to start the inning, sending the young pitcher to the showers. Ashur Tolliver, up from Triple-A Fresno on Saturday, entered in relief and got Michael Brantley to fly out before a wild pitch and a walk to Carlos Santana loaded the bases. Encarnacion kept his productive afternoon going with a single through the left side as all runners moved up 90 feet and Kipnis scored the Indians’ sixth run of the day. Chisenhall grounded back to Tolliver, who came to the plate to force Lindor for the second out, but the reliever forced home a run when he plunked Gomes on the left heel on an 0-2 pitch. The next batter, Zimmer, grounded to first but reached on a hustle single. Encarnacion scored, but Chisenhall was thrown out at the plate trying to catch the Astros and Tolliver sleeping for the final out of the inning.
Given an 8-1 lead, Salazar once again could not keep the advantage where it was, similar to two starts previous against Toronto. Josh Reddick led off the home portion of the fourth with a single and on the very next pitch, Jose Altuve sent a drive over the tall wall in left for a two-run home run. Salazar would have to work out of a two-out jam later in the inning after walking Evan Gattis on four pitches before Marwin Gonzalez doubled after taking three straight balls. Alex Bregman would fly to right to end the threat.
Tolliver was much better after his rough opening inning, setting the side down in order in the fifth and sixth and working around a leadoff walk in the seventh. He would strike out five over four innings of long relief.
Salazar also settled in after the early inning jitters. He would retire six straight batters until the two-out mark in the bottom of the sixth, when a walk to Beltran in the 8-3 game ended his day and brought Nick Goody on from the bullpen. He retired all four that he faced.
Dan Otero worked an efficient eighth, getting two outs on the ground and one in the air on just six pitches. The same could not be said for Zach McAllister, who entered to get some work with a five-run lead in the ninth. After getting Carlos Correa to ground out harmlessly to first, McAllister walked Beltran. A liner to right from Gattis was good for the second out, but Gonzalez worked McAllister for 13 pitches, including nine foul balls, before homering to deep right, cutting the Indians lead to 8-5. On the very next pitch, Bregman made it a two-run game with a solo homer to left, but McAllister struck out Nori Aoki swinging on the eighth pitch of his at bat to end it.
Salazar (3-4, 5.55 ERA) got back into the win column but he had to work for it and was largely able to get the victory due to the significant run support he received in the ball game. It was his first victory since defeating Seattle on April 29.
The right-hander worked five and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. He was once again dinged for two more home runs, giving him six blasts allowed in his last two starts (ten and two-thirds innings), after allowing just five homers in his first seven starts, a span of 36 1/3 innings. He pitched from behind frequently, getting ahead with first pitch strikes to just ten of 23 batters faced on the afternoon.
GOMES GOING WELL IN MAY
The significantly improved play of Gomes in May has been a pleasant sight to see for the Indians offense. His contributions on Sunday were evident as he doubled, homered, and drove in five runs while scoring two himself.
The 2-for-3 day at the plate pushed his season batting average to .267 and his on-base percentage to .359.
LEADING THE WAY
Kipnis extended his hitting streak to seven straight games, giving him hits in each of his games since being moved back into the leadoff spot by manager Terry Francona. He was 2-for-5 on Sunday with a pair of singles, an RBI, and a run scored.
SEASON-WORST FOR MUSGROVE
The 24-year-old Musgrove (3-4, 5.63), in his first look at the Indians, may prefer not to see them again any time soon. He allowed a season-high seven runs in a season-low three innings of work. He allowed eleven base runners, including eight hits and three walks, as the latter two matched his highs for an outing this season. He also allowed a home run in a game for the seventh time in nine starts.
A pair of injured Indians took another step closer to returning to the lineup.
Starting pitcher Corey Kluber threw 50 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday. He will throw a bullpen session on Monday and could see a rehab assignment later in the week.
Outfielder Austin Jackson, out with a hyperextended toe, was 2-for-3 in his second appearance with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers while working through his rehab assignment. He homered and drove in a pair in his first rehab start on Friday. He will take Monday off before returning to the lineup on Tuesday and could potentially return to the Indians later in the week.
ON TO OHIO
The Indians will return home to Ohio, but will make a two-day stop in the southern corner of the state as they visit Cincinnati for the first two games of a home-and-home series with the Reds. Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco are the scheduled starters for the road portion of the series for the Tribe.
Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images