Blackmon’s Blast in 12th Earns Rockies Split in Cleveland; Rockies 3, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 09, Aug 2017
With Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies in 12 innings, the Cleveland Indians will not face another National League opponent this season unless the ultimate goal – a return trip to the World Series – is met.
Their performance in interleague play this season makes the early end of that portion of the schedule a very good thing – the Indians were just 6-14 this year against senior circuit opponents, a stark contrast to last season’s 13-7 record against them in advance of their battle with the Chicago Cubs in late October.
The last interleague game resembled many of the games that preceded it, as the Indians were left with disappointment after Cody Allen blew the save in the top of the ninth inning and Charlie Blackmon hit his second homer in as many days off of Tribe pitching to give the Rockies the lead for good in the 12th as Cleveland dropped to 60-51 on the year.
What made the loss even more disappointing was that it wasted a third straight strong start on the mound from Trevor Bauer.
Both clubs had base runners in the early innings, but could not push runners across in the first couple of frames. Nolan Arenado singled with two outs in the first and stole second before a strikeout by Gerardo Parra. Jose Ramirez singled with two down in the first against Rockies’ rookie righty Antonio Senzatela, but Edwin Encarnacion grounded the next pitch to short. Carlos Gonzalez started the second with a single to right, but a pair of fielder’s choice force outs at second and a strikeout left the Rockies with nothing to show for it. Senzatela got a double play ball off of the bat of Austin Jackson in the second to erase a leadoff walk from Carlos Santana.
The scoring started in the third as the Rockies took the lead. Number nine hitter Alexi Amarista quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, but found his pitch from Bauer and cleared the wall in right-center for a solo shot. His third homer of the season gave Colorado a 1-0 lead.
The Indians responded in the home half of the third with a clutch two-out hit from Francisco Lindor. Abraham Almonte opened the inning with a double to center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Roberto Perez. Jason Kipnis popped up the next pitch to second, but the aggressive approach from the Indians had far more success for Lindor as he jumped on Senzatela’s first pitch and slugged it to right for a two-out, two-run home run to put the Indians on top, 2-1, with his 19th long ball of the season.
The Rockies would find the bases just four more times against Bauer. Parra singled to start the fourth, Arenado and Parra were stranded after back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth, and Blackmon hit a leadoff single to start the eighth, ending Bauer’s afternoon with seven-plus innings of work in the books.
The Tribe continually missed out on chances to expand on their lead. The first two men reached in the fourth against Senzatela, but two strikeouts sandwiched around a foul out by the six, seven, and eight hitters wasted a big opportunity. Perez singled to start the fifth and would get to second on a two-out walk by Ramirez, but Encarnacion fell short by lining out sharply to third on the final pitch of Senzatela’s afternoon. Almonte started the seventh against Chris Rusin with a single to center and would move to third after a sacrifice and a groundout, but Lindor’s grounder to short ended the inning.
Again in the eighth, the Indians stared down a big scoring chance and squandered it. Encarnacion drew a one-out walk off of Adam Ottavino and Jackson singled him to second one out later. Left-hander Jake McGee came on in relief and immediately plunked Bradley Zimmer to load the bases, but Brandon Guyer, pinch-hitting for Almonte, grounded into a force at second.
Allen came on in the ninth and got into trouble in the blink of an eye. After striking out Parra on four pitches, Gonzalez jumped on the first pitch he saw and singled to center. Allen fell behind Jonathan Lucroy before he sent a 2-1 pitch to center, where Zimmer had trouble cleanly fielding the hit and Gonzalez scored with ease to tie the game. Still with only one down, Allen had to work his way out of the inning to prevent the loss, striking out Raimel Tapia swinging before a two-out walk by Trevor Story. With the winning run still standing at second base, Allen got Mark Reynolds to fly to left to send the game to the bottom of the ninth, where McGee struck out the first two men and got Lindor to fly to left to send the game to extras.
The Indians would get just one base runner in three bonus innings, as Guyer worked a two-out walk in the eleventh. The Rockies had chances in all three innings, as Blackmon singled off of Bryan Shaw to start the tenth, but the All-Star was doubled up on his own bad base running. Lucroy drew a two-out walk against Tyler Olson in the eleventh, but it would be Blackmon who would step back to the plate with two down in the 12th and deliver the crushing blow, a no-doubt blast to right that put the Rockies ahead for the first time since the third.
RUN SUPPORT WAS LACKING
The series between the Indians and Rockies lacked a lot of timely, clutch hitting until the final moments of each game. On Wednesday, the two teams combined to go 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 19 men on base.
The Indians had the one hit in their nine at bats and stranded ten. The Rockies were 0-for-5 with nine left.
SENZATELA SOLID IN RETURN TO ROTATION
The 22-year-old Senzatela has had an up and down season, one that has included an exit from the starting rotation and a return trip to the Triple-A level. He made just one costly mistake to Lindor in a no-decision in his second start of the season against Cleveland. He allowed two runs on five hits, walked three, and struck out five on 87 pitches over five innings.
BAD LUCK FOR BAUER
Bauer took a tough no-decision, but chipped his ERA back below five for the first time since his first start of the year. He worked seven-plus innings, facing one batter in the eighth, and allowed seven hits on the afternoon. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter in a much better start against the Rockies than his first this season, when he allowed four runs on five hits and five walks in three and one-third for his fifth loss of the season back in June.
He has now allowed one run in each of his last three starts, all of which have been quality outings seven innings or longer. The blown save by Allen prevented Bauer from winning a season-high fourth game in a row and cost him what would have been a team-leading eleventh win.
SLOW GO FOR KIP
Kipnis’ struggles since returning from the disabled list continued, as he went 0-for-6 in the game with three strikeouts. He is now 1-for-13 with six strikeouts, one single, and one walk in his three games back off of the DL.
The Indians placed left fielder Michael Brantley on the 10-day disabled list prior to the game with a sprained right ankle. Utility man Erik Gonzalez was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
TIME TO HIT THE ROAD
Both clubs head to Florida for their next series. The Indians open a four-gamer with the Tampa Bay Rays beginning Thursday night from Tropicana Field. The Rockies will take Thursday off before starting a three-game weekend set with the Miami Marlins on Friday.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images