Chisenhall Plates Five in Half a Game as Indians Avoid Sweep; Indians 12, Dodgers 5
Bob Toth | On 15, Jun 2017
Lonnie Chisenhall delivered a clutch pinch-hit three-run home run in the fifth inning and the Cleveland bats tacked on as the Indians defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-5 to avoid the sweep in the final game of their homestand Thursday afternoon.
The bats were alive and well in a rare series finale between the Tribe and Dodgers as the club’s met for just the 12th time in the regular season. It required an unusual mid-game turn to the bench by manager Terry Francona, but the move worked to perfection as the Indians extended a one-run lead and did not look back.
Josh Tomlin started for the Tribe and had been given an early five-run lead as his teammates jumped on former Indians reliever Rich Hill, but the Cleveland starter could not keep the big lead, requiring additional support against the Dodgers bullpen.
A new look lineup for the Tribe got to Hill in the first as the batting order was shuffled up with the absence of Jason Kipnis, who was out with a neck injury, and Michael Brantley, who left the club to be with his wife for the birth of their child. New leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor started the game with a single and Daniel Robertson followed with a single of his own to put runners on the corners. Jose Ramirez drove in the game’s first run with a single to center and Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hill retired the next two batters as Carlos Santana lined to third and Austin Jackson grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Corey Seager forcing out Robertson at home for the second out. Roberto Perez showed his good eye at the plate by working a walk after falling behind two strikes to force home the second run of the inning before Bradley Zimmer reached safely on an infield single, scoring Encarnacion to give the Tribe a three-run edge.
Robertson continued to contribute during his time in the Indians lineup by getting things going with a one-out single in the second. He scored on a double to right-center by Ramirez to make it 4-0. Ramirez would be erased on a caught stealing of third, but on the next pitch, Encarnacion sent a drive to left for his 13th homer of the season, giving Cleveland a 5-0 lead.
Paced to a big advantage, Tomlin could not contain the dangerous Dodgers lineup. He worked around a pair of singles in the third as the Dodgers were aggressive with him at the plate, attacking Tomlin’s tendency of throwing early strikes. The approach changed in the fourth as they took more pitches, starting with Cody Bellinger to lead off the frame. The hot-hitting rookie delivered yet another home run as he just cleared the wall and the foul pole in right for a solo shot to put the Dodgers on the board.
Los Angeles struck through for a big inning in the fifth. Joc Pederson doubled to left and Yasiel Puig doubled him home to make it 5-2. Chris Taylor cut the gap down to one with a two-run shot to center before Tomlin worked his way out of the inning.
The Indians reclaimed control of the game for good in the home half of the fifth. Encarnacion walked and Santana singled to center, sending manager Dave Roberts to the mound for reliever Ross Stripling. Francona turned to his bench, earlier than most managers might, and brought on the left-handed hitting Chisenhall to face the new right-hander. Two pitches later, the Indians lead was 8-4 as Chisenhall deposited a three-run blast to right.
Tomlin left after a leadoff double by Austin Barnes to start the sixth. Nick Goody would walk the first batter that he faced, but got a double play liner to center off of the bat of Pederson that erased Barnes from second. A walk by Puig put two on, but Taylor lined out to end the threat.
The Tribe took full advantage of the missed opportunity by the Dodgers, expanding on their lead with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. After outs by Lindor and Robertson, Ramirez and Encarnacion both singled and Santana walked to load the bases. Chisenhall swung at the next pitch, singling to right to drive in both Ramirez and Encarnacion to make it 10-4, giving the right fielder five RBI in his first two at bats of the day. A single to shallow center by Perez plated Santana and made it an 11-4 game, ending the short afternoon of Stripling.
Both clubs would add single runs in the final innings. After Kyle Crockett walked Franklin Gutierrez and hit Justin Turner with a pitch, Bryan Shaw entered with one out and gave up a grounder to pinch-hitter Chase Utley to score the former Indian Gutierrez from third to make it 11-5. Erik Gonzalez led off the home half of the seventh with his first Major League home run, sending the first pitch from reliever Chris Hatcher over the wall in left with the final run of the afternoon.
The 12-5 win moved the Indians (32-31) back over the .500 mark and gave the club just its second win in interleague play this season. The Dodgers (41-26) fell back to even on the road this year at 16-16, but claimed its first interleague series of the season with their two wins earlier in the week.
Tomlin earned just his second win in his last eight outings to improve to 4-8 on the season. He worked five-plus innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with two homers, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Hill took his third loss of the season after pitching into the fifth and allowing seven runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out four while needing 105 pitches before taking an early shower.
Now tied for second in the National League West, the Dodgers will look to gain some ground on Colorado as they play their second consecutive weekend series with the Cincinnati Reds. The Indians will begin a week-long homestand and an extended stretch of play as they head to Minnesota for four with the first place Twins, entering the series down two games in the American League Central.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images