Did the Tribe Win Last Night? In miraculous and come-from-behind fashion, yes! A six-run fourth inning for Toronto off of Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer put the Indians at a substantial disadvantage, but his offensive teammates picked him up two innings later, scoring six of their own in the fifth on the way to a 10-7 victory Sunday afternoon.
After reclaiming the lead, the Indians bullpen kept the Blue Jays potent lineup off of the scoreboard until the ninth, when Cleveland had extended their lead to four runs.
The Indians were powered by the top four hitters in the lineup, who combined for ten hits in 14 at bats (.714) with six of the day’s RBI and eight of the runs scored.
WP: M. Rzepczynski (1-0) LP: J. Francis (1-1)
Key Inning: Bottom of the fifth. Having chipped one run off of the deficit created when Devon Travis hit a grand slam in a six-run fourth inning off of Bauer, the Indians put their bats to good use.
Lonnie Chisenhall started the frame with a ground rule double down the right field line that was fielded in foul ground by the ball boy. After a strikeout, Michael Bourn walked and Jason Kipnis got his second hit of the ball game with an RBI-single to left center. Jose Ramirez drove a 1-0 pitch deep to right-center that just popped out of the glove of former Indians outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, scoring Bourn and putting runners on second and third while chasing Toronto starter Drew Hutchison from the game. A single to center by Michael Brantley off of reliever Jeff Francis scored the pair to tie the game, but Cleveland did not stop there.
Carlos Santana worked his way back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk. After Brandon Moss flew out, Ryan Raburn pinch-hit for lefty David Murphy and drove in a pair with a double just fair past the third base bag to give the Indians an 8-6 lead with a six-run inning.
Player of the Game: Kipnis ignited the team all game long. He worked a nine-pitch at bat against Hutchison in the third before taking the pitcher deep to the seats in front of the bullpen for his third homer of the homestand while giving the Indians a 1-0 lead at the time. He singled in a run and scored in the fifth and singled and scored again in the sixth. He laced a hustle-double to left-center in his final at bat in the eighth and was stranded at third with the bases loaded.
“We’re showing some fight and able to claw back the way we did,” said Kipnis. “Kind of summed up where we dug our own hole. We’re not good enough to play that stupid the way we did in the first couple innings. Fortunately the bats came alive today and we had some good at bats today.”
They Said It: “Millsy looked at me after that at bat and said ‘He’ll do some damage today’. Such a good at bat, and then he did,” said manager Terry Francona postgame about Kipnis’s second at bat. “Pretty much one through nine we kept it going. We put pressure on them and kept the pressure on them and it was enough to win a really tough game to win.”
Standings: The win for the Indians improved their record to 9-15 on the season and 4-8 at home. They pulled out of the cellar of the American League Central Division with Chicago’s fifth straight loss and gained ground on Kansas City, who dropped a 6-4 final to wrap up their series with Detroit. The loss knocked the Royals out of first place on the heels of their series against the Tribe.
The Indians are now seven games in back of the first place Tigers.
Etc.: With productivity from the top of the lineup, the Indians scored in bunches, something that had become an issue with the lack of consistency from Bourn in the leadoff spot. The top four hitters in the lineup stepped into the batter’s box 20 times Sunday and reached base successfully in 15 of those plate appearances, including ten hits and five walks.
Kipnis led the way with his 4-for-5 day at the plate while driving in a pair. Ramirez was 2-for-4. Brantley was 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs, and two RBI. Santana was 2-for-2, drove in a run, scored a run, and was walked three times to increase his AL-best walk total.
Brantley is now hitting .384 in his career versus the Blue Jays. Kipnis is hitting .344 in his last eight games with three homers, seven runs batted in, eight runs scored, and has a .462 on-base percentage.
“It’s time to step it up as a group,” said Brantley. “We did a great job today and we have to continue to do it.”
Analysis: In what will likely go down as one of the crazier games of the season, the Indians’ Bauer breezed through the lineup in the first two innings, retiring six straight with ease, before succumbing to some wildness in the third. He escaped harm that inning, but the fourth got the best of him and his defensive teammates as the Jays became very aggressive at the plate with six of the ten batters in the inning swinging at the first pitch of their at bats.
Toronto took advantage of several extra outs in the inning after Santana missed a double play opportunity while trying to prevent a runner from scoring and Bauer, fielding a bouncer from Carrera, looked to the plate to try to get an out there and was unable to get the speedy ex-Indian at first. Just two pitches later, Travis’s grand slam was sailing into the bleacher seats and that bad feeling of another inevitable loss was present. This day, however, was different than the others.
The Indians pushed across runs in four straight innings, tallied 13 hits on the day (six of which were for extra bases), and had rare clutch hitting. They also bailed out Bauer, who had been victimized by his bullpen teammates several times this season to cost him and the team wins. Bauer himself was not his usual force on the mound, as he ended the day with four and one-third innings of work and allowed six runs on seven hits with three walks and just one strikeout.
Up Next: The Indians will take Monday off before their rematch with the Royals in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium begins on Tuesday. The two clubs will pair up for three straight, with the first two games scheduled for 8:10 PM ET starts and Thursday scheduled for a 2:10 PM ET getaway day start time.
Left-hander Jason Vargas (2-1, 5.95 ERA) will go for the Royals. He earned the win in his last start on Monday when the Royals defeated the Indians, 6-2. Righty Danny Salazar (3-0, 3.32) will counter for the Tribe. He was victorious in his last outing, also against Kansas City, in a 7-5 win on Wednesday.
Photo: AP Photo/Phil Long