The Cleveland Indians need to go on a run to play their way into the wild card game. Tonight’s 8-1 victory may have been part of the catalyst to that necessary run.
Scott Kazmir gave the Indians six shutout innings and struck out 12 to help the Tribe past the New York Mets on Friday night. Cleveland used Kazmir’s performance and a late grand slam by Nick Swisher in the eighth inning to blow the game open and help the Tribe remain in the playoff race.
Cleveland took the lead in the bottom of the first inning against New York starter, Zack Wheeler. Michael Bourn singled to center field to start the game and Nick Swisher singled to right center field and Jason Kipnis walked to load the bases with no one out. Carlos Santana hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Bourn. It looked like it could have been a big inning, but Jason Kubel struck out and Asdrubal Cabrera fouled out to leave two on, but the Indians led 1-0.
In the second inning, the Tribe added another run when Lonnie Chisenhall walked and Drew Stubbs was safe on a throwing error by third baseman, Wilmer Flores. With runners on first and third base and just one out, Bourn hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Chisenhall and make it 2-0 Tribe.
Meanwhile, Kazmir was crusing. He struck out the side in the first and third innings and had seven K’s through three innings. All seven strikeouts were swinging. He added his eighth strikeout in the fourth inning and ninth in the fifth.
Cleveland added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Stubbs reached on an infield single and stole second base before Bourn walked. Nick Swisher flew out to right field before Kipnis struck out swinging. It looked as if the Indians would not score, but Santana came through with a single to center field that plated Stubbs and extended the lead to 3-0.
After Kubel was walked, Cabrera could not come through with the bases loaded when he flew out to center field.
Wheeler (7-4) was done for the Mets after five innings, allowing five hits and three runs—just two earned—while walking five and striking out three. Gonzalez Gemen relieved Wheeler but could not hold the deficit where it was.
Kazmir (8-7) finished his evening in the sixth inning when he struck out the side. He pitched six innings, allowing just four hits and striking out 12. He didn’t allow a run or a walk on 97 pitches.
The Tribe tallied another run before the left-hander officially exited the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Yan Gomes doubled to left field to start the inning and scored when Chisenhall doubled off the right field wall. Chisenhall was thrown out at third base trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but Gomes scored and made it 4-0.
Cody Allen allowed the only run the Mets could muster when he pitched the seventh inning. Justin Turner hit his first home run of the season, a bomb to deep center field. The homer cut the Indians’ lead to 4-1.
Joe Smith worked a scoreless eighth inning before the Tribe put the game to bed in the bottom half of the inning. David Aardsma took over for Germen and walked Chisenhall with one out. Jose Ramirez ran for Chisenhall and scampered to third base when Stubbs doubled to left field. Mets manager Terry Collins summoned Tim Byrdak from the bullpen to matchup with left-handers.
Bourn walked to load the bases and Swisher the homered to the left field bleachers for a grand slam and 8-1 Indians lead. It capped an evening where Aardsma and Byrdak were each charged with two runs.
Matt Albers worked a scoreless ninth inning and the Indians had their third straight win in a row. As they currently stand at 75-65, the Indians have 22 games remaining. They’ll need to go 15-7 to win 90 games—the potential magic number of victories to make the playoffs.
Cleveland will continue to build upon their most recent hot streak Saturday evening when Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54) makes his first start in a month. Kluber has been on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right, middle finger. He’ll be opposed by Lima native Jon Niese (6-6, 3.66). The game is slated for a unique, 6:05 p.m. start time.
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