Gomes Wins it with Two-Run Walk-Off Homer in Ninth; Indians 3, Royals 1
Bob Toth | On 08, Apr 2018
Yan Gomes sent the Indians home a winner on Sunday afternoon in walk-off fashion as his two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave Cleveland a 3-1 win.
On the coldest day on record in the history of Progressive Field (32 degrees at first pitch), the Indians bats were silenced for seven innings before a bizarre and lucky eighth inning helped the Tribe tie the game ahead of Gomes’ skyscraper that just cleared the 19-foot wall in left field to give Cleveland (4-5) its first series win of the year.
Cody Allen pitched a perfect ninth in a 1-1 ball game, striking out a pair to set the stage for dramatics in Cleveland. Brandon Maurer took the mound for the Royals in the bottom half, striking out Edwin Encarnacion before walking birthday boy Yonder Alonso. Maurer engaged Gomes in a nine-pitch battle, but it went the way of the Tribe’s backstop as he drove a 3-2 fastball just over the wall, far enough to give Allen and the Indians a much-needed win.
The final two frames got starting pitcher Mike Clevinger off of the hook after working a career-high seven and one-third innings while firing 110 pitches, striking out four, walking a pair, and scattering a run on nine hits in the process.
Both teams had some early opportunities, but the double play ball came to the aid of Clevinger. He walked the first batter of the game, Jon Jay, but after a fly out, he got a big 3-6-1 double play ball off of the bat of Mike Moustakas. In the second, Lucas Duda and Jorge Soler each singled to start the inning, but Ryan Goins grounded into a double play and Alcides Escobar fouled out with a runner at third.
The Indians had their own chance in the first frame against Royals right-hander Jason Hammel, who contained the Cleveland bats all game long. Jose Ramirez walked with two outs and moved to third on a single to right by Michael Brantley. With runners on the corners, Encarnacion could not get the job done as he struck out swinging on four pitches.
The Royals posted a legitimate threat in the third with a two-out rally attempt. Jay walked for the second time and moved to second on a single by Whit Merrifield. Moustakas singled to center for his first hit of the series and Jay attempted to score from second, but Bradley Zimmer fired a bullet to the plate that arrived in plenty of time for Gomes to place the tag on Jay for the final out of the inning.
Cleveland would get a third double play in the first four innings in the top of the fourth after Soler singled for the second straight at bat. With one out, Goins struck out swinging and a strike to second from Gomes cut down Soler attempting to steal.
The Royals found the scoreboard in the fifth with another two-out hit. Alex Gordon singled to left but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Cam Gallagher. Two pitches later, Jay got a strike and drove a seed to deep center. Zimmer raced back and leapt to make the catch but was out of reach, slamming violently into the wall in the process. He was able to pull himself up and get the ball back into the infield, but Gallagher scored on the triple by Jay. Clevinger stopped the bleeding, striking out Merrifield to end the inning.
The Indians would get a pair of singles in the fifth off of Hammel, but could not score. Clevinger had to get a little help in the next half inning after Moustakas reached on an infield single to third, but he would be picked off of first base on a fantastic throw behind the plate by Gomes. Soler immediately followed with his third hit of the game, a double to right on a ball misplayed by Tyler Naquin, that could have plated another run had it not been for the pick off.
Things got away from the Royals after Hammel left after six for reliever Tim Hill. The young left-hander, who had an easy seventh, returned in the bottom of the eighth but got the hook after he walked Zimmer to start the inning. Ned Yost came to the mound and called on right-hander Justin Grimm, but things took a turn for the worse for the Royals as Zimmer stole second easily and was sacrificed to third by Francisco Lindor. Jason Kipnis dribbled one back to the mound that Grimm could not handle cleanly, then threw errantly to first, pulling Merrifield off of the bag to put runners on the corners. Ramirez then came through with an unconventional clutch hit, as his check swing nubber to the left side of the infield allowed Zimmer to score (Ramirez would be ruled out at first after replay after initially being called safe). Brantley flied deep to left to end the inning, but the Indians had tied the game at one, giving them a much better chance for their late inning heroics.
Clevinger’s performance was crucial for Cleveland as he kept the game close while the offense continued to struggle at the plate. He lasted seven and one-third, allowing a run on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Following his scoreless effort in his first start of the year, Clevinger now boasts a 0.71 ERA through 12 2/3 innings.
HAMMEL HOLDS INDIANS
Hammel fared much better in his second start of the season, giving the Royals a quality start and leaving in a position to earn the win. He worked six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five.
Gomes delivered the shot that the Indians needed, sending the frigid fans and players home with a big victory. It was the third walk-off homer in Gomes’ career and his fourth walk-off hit overall. All three hits that Gomes has this season have scored runs for the Indians.
“I was even thankful that we were even still playing,” said Francona. “We hit 75 feet of grounders and we still tied it. I didn’t think anybody would be able to hit the ball out to left field.
“We needed the win and we got a win. We obviously have some work to do offensively and we will, but it’s nice to win a game like that.”
The Indians will welcome in the Detroit Tigers (4-4) for a four-game series this week. The weather will remain cold for the early part of the week with four straight 6:10 PM ET starts. The Indians will send right-hander Corey Kluber (0-1, 2.40 ERA) to the mound as the rotation has been shuffled up slightly, with Josh Tomlin set to follow Tuesday. Left-hander Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.35), a very familiar face for the Tribe, will start game one for Detroit. It will be the second start of the season for the 34-year-old southpaw, who allowed one earned run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings in his first start against the Royals on April 2.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images