Giants Gift Wrap Indians a Much Needed Win; Indians 5, Giants 3
Bob Toth | On 18, Jul 2017
When falling upon hard times, sometimes a little luck and a little help from the baseball gods is exactly what you need. A poor display of fundamentals by the usually reliable San Francisco defenders allowed Cleveland to get back into the game and a strong outing from Josh Tomlin led the Indians to a needed 5-3 victory over the Giants in game one of a three-game series.
Tomlin outpitched the Giants’ Matt Moore, who became his own worst enemy to aid in the Indians scoring. The Cleveland starter would make just 79 pitches on the night, but gave the Indians seven and one-third innings of solid work in a quality outing that the Tribe desperately needed from its one-time stopper.
The game was quiet through the first two hitless innings before Yan Gomes started the third with a first pitch home run to left off of Moore to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead. The lead would be short lived as the Giants would strike quickly against Tomlin in the home half of the frame. Joe Panik started things off with a single to right-center. Gorkys Hernandez ripped a double into the left field corner. Michael Brantley’s relay throw to Francisco Lindor was fed to Gomes for a play at the plate that was initially signaled an out, but upon replay review initiated by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, it was shown that Panik’s foot touched the plate before Gomes tagged his leg. Hernandez advanced to third on the play at the plate, which would loom large as Moore aided his own cause with a bloop single into shallow center to score another run and put San Fran up, 2-1.
Cleveland would whiff on an opportunity to respond to the response runs from the Giants in the top of the fourth. Lindor reached on an infield single and Edwin Encarnacion walked on four straight after Brantley struck out. With two on and a big run in scoring position, Jose Ramirez lined out softly to third and Brandon Guyer struck out swinging.
The Giants expanded on their lead in the bottom half of the frame, making the missed scoring chance even worse. Buster Posey singled with one out and scored on a double to right-center by Brandon Crawford to make it a 3-1 score.
Just as things appeared to be getting away from the Tribe, luck fell their way. After Gomes started the fifth inning with a grounder to third, Giovanny Urshela doubled to center. Tomlin grounded to short for the second out and Bradley Zimmer grounded back to the mound. After mishandling the ball briefly, Moore attempted a long underhand toss to first base, but the throw sailed over the first baseman. Urshela scored from third and Zimmer moved to second on the miscue, pulling the Indians within one. Lindor then tied the game up with a soft single to center to score Zimmer from second and the bad decision to throw to the plate allowed Lindor to move into scoring position. Brantley reached on an infield single that resulted in a bad throw by Eduardo Nunez to first, putting runners on the corners, but Encarnacion popped out to short and may have thrown his bat in disgust even further than he hit the ball as the Indians missed out on a chance to reclaim the lead.
With a clutch hit by Lindor in the books, his good buddy Urshela would come through with an incredible defensive gem in the bottom of the fifth. Hernandez started the inning with a single to right, bringing Moore to the plate in a sacrifice situation. He squared the second pitch back towards the mound, where a sprinting Urshela fielded the ball and fired off balanced down to second base to nab the lead runner. Lindor’s return throw to second baseman Ramirez covering at first completed the double play as momentum may have fully swung in the Tribe’s favor.
Ramirez shot a double to left to start the sixth inning. Guyer stepped to the plate and looked to sacrifice the runner to third, but the throw to first was wide of the mark, allowing Ramirez to score the go-ahead run and Guyer to move to second. He would be stranded there, but the Indians had taken a 4-3 lead on another defensive blunder by the Giants.
Tomlin worked with ease through the sixth and seventh and returned to the mound in the eighth, retiring the first batter of the inning before Miguel Gomez was announced as a pinch-hitter for the reliever Cory Gearrin. Andrew Miller came on and needed just three pitches to get a pair of groundouts to send the game to the ninth.
The Indians added the always-reassuring insurance run against right-hander George Kontos. With one down, Urshela singled to right and moved to second on a walk by Abraham Almonte. Zimmer struck out for the second out before Lindor came through with his third hit of the night and second RBI with a single to center to score Urshela. Josh Osich entered in relief of Kontos and was able to get Brantley to fly to left, sending the 5-3 game to the bottom of the ninth.
Cody Allen came on in relief for manager Terry Francona and had an easy inning. Nunez flied to right, Hunter Pence grounded back to the mound, and Posey lined out to Allen as he earned his 17th save of the campaign.
Tomlin (6-9) ended the Indians (48-43) losing skid at four games. He worked quickly all night long, needing just the 79 pitches to complete seven and one-third innings. His quality outing included three runs on six hits, no walks, and five strikeouts, three of which came against the dangerous free-swinging Pence.
Moore (3-10) took yet another loss in a disappointing season for the former All-Star. He allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out five.
The game marked the end of the Giants’ long sellout streak, as their crowd of 39,538 fell short of the mark. San Francisco had sold out a National League record 530 straight games, dating back to the 2010 season.
Nunez’s streak of reaching base safely ended at 33 straight games. Lindor now has seven hits in his last two games for the Indians.
Prior to the game, the Indians announced that left-hander Ryan Merritt had been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to help out the bullpen after the short outing by Trevor Bauer on Sunday afternoon. To make room on the roster, outfielder Tyler Naquin was returned to Triple-A. The Giants scratched first baseman Brandon Belt from the lineup with a sprained left wrist, the second straight game that he has missed.
Mike Clevinger (5-3, 3.00 ERA) will take the mound in the middle game of the series on Tuesday night, looking to build on a 4-1 record and a 2.56 ERA in six starts on the road this season. Left-hander Ty Blach (6-5, 4.60) will get the call for the Giants, coming off of back-to-back wins in quality starts against Colorado and Detroit.
First pitch from AT&T Park is scheduled for 10:15 PM ET.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images