The Cleveland Indians concluded a bizarre and disappointing nine-game road trip by dropping the series finale in Philadelphia with a 2-1 loss to the Phillies.
Cleveland could find few runs in the series, despite limiting Philadelphia to just ten runs in the three-game set. The Indians scored three runs in each of the first two games before a ninth inning run on Sunday got them on the scoreboard late. The final score marked six straight games of one-run decisions for the Indians, who were on the losing end of five of those contests and three of which came in walk-off fashion.
The Indians (10-12) fell two games below the .500 mark and are now 7-7 on the road. After starting their road trip 3-0, they finished their three-city trip at 4-5. The Phillies (15-10), meanwhile, completed their second straight three-game sweep and improved to 8-5 at home at Citizens Bank Park.
If attempting to find a bright spot, the Indians kept each of the final six games of their road trip close in one-run finals.
“We’ve played a lot of close games all year. We talk all the time about trying to be one run better as opposed to them being one run better. They did it the entire series,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after the game. “We’re just going to have to figure out ways. We’ve got a day off tomorrow. We can re-gather ourselves, give our bullpen, some guys, some needed rest, and come out and get after it and try to figure out ways to play with a lead and give our guys some breathing room.”
Indians starter Danny Salazar was cruising through the first two innings, striking out five straight batters heading into the third inning. After getting Cesar Hernandez to pop up to third in foul territory, Phillies pitcher Vincent Velasquez drew a questionable walk on a 3-2 pitch. Peter Bourjos singled to left to move the runner into scoring position. A fly out to left from Odubel Herrera had the inning nearly on the hook, but Freddy Galvis singled to center to score the first run and move Bourjos to third. Then, during the at bat of Maikel Franco, Salazar slipped on his delivery and was charged a balk, forcing home Bourjos with the second run of the inning.
Velasquez worked out of some early trouble while running up his pitch count some. A leadoff walk to Jose Ramirez was erased on a double play ball from Jason Kipnis in the first. Francisco Lindor followed with a single to right, but was stranded. Tyler Naquin reached with one out in the second on an infield single to short, but was left at first. Ramirez walked again with one out in the third, but was erased on a double play strikeout-caught stealing, with the play at second on Ramirez not even close. In the fourth, the Tribe put the first two on to start the inning with back-to-back walks, but Yan Gomes popped out to third, Naquin struck out, and Rajai Davis lined out on a nice play by the left fielder Darin Ruf. Davis would single in the seventh but was picked off to end the inning, and Lonnie Chisenhall reached and moved to second on a double error by Hernandez, but was left in the middle of the diamond.
“In a game like this, every play can be a turning point. But that was a really good play,” said Francona of the catch by Ruf. “Rajai had hit that ball really good. I thought Kip’s at bat was going to be a turning point. We got a chance to maybe get him out of there an inning early. Sometimes the best way to beat a guy is to get him out.”
SALAZAR SOLID, BUT SLIPS UP
One rough inning proved to be the difference for Salazar (2-2, 2.40), who was otherwise locked in for stretches on the mound. He worked seven innings in a quality start, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. His balk in the third turned out to be the deciding run.
“I think he had close to 60 pitches after three innings, and then end up staying out there for seven, so that was good,” said Francona. “It’s unfortunate that, as good as he pitched and as good as his line was, the two runs they got…he had the pitcher 0-2, walked him, and then the balk.
“When we’re playing games like we are right now, everything is so magnified. That ended up being all they got but it was enough.”
VELASQUEZ WINS HIS FOURTH
Velasquez (4-1, 1.44) continued his hot start to the season with six strong innings on the mound and one suspect walk at the plate on the afternoon. He allowed just two hits, walked four, and struck out six.
NERIS EARNS FIRST CAREER SAVE
Despite allowing a run in the ninth, Neris earned his first career save. He had previously earned 14 saves throughout his minor league career in the Phillies system.
The run allowed by Neris was the first run scored against the Phillies bullpen this weekend.
Kipnis led off the sixth inning with a 14-pitch at bat against Velasquez before finally flying out to left.
LITTLE OFFENSE TO ROOT FOR
The two teams combined for just eight hits on the afternoon. The Indians “benefited” from four walks, but could not take advantage of any of the free base runners.
GETTING A REST
The Indians announced prior to Sunday’s game that backup catcher Roberto Perez had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb injury. It was believed that he had sustained the injury on the fifth inning play at the plate on Saturday night. Cleveland purchased the contract of catcher Adam Moore from Triple-A Columbus to take Perez’s roster spot.
Josh Tomlin (3-0, 3.18 ERA) looks to fill the role of stopper again when the Indians resume action at Progressive Field on Tuesday night. Justin Verlander (2-2, 5.46) will oppose for the visiting Detroit Tigers, who woke up after being swept by the Indians on the front end of their disappointing road trip.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Derik Hamilton