A well placed single up the middle by Yan Gomes in the bottom of the eleventh inning sent the Cleveland Indians to a 5-4 win in the finale of their three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
The big hit from the Indians catcher, who entered the game defensively in the ninth inning, ended a back and forth contest in a well-pitched game between visiting Cole Hamels and Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer.
After working out of a small jam in the top of the eleventh, Lonnie Chisenhall laced a ground rule double the opposite way down the left field line into the seats in foul grounds off of Texas reliever Alex Claudio (1-1, 4.30 ERA). Gomes stepped in and bunted the first pitch foul before sending the game-winner up the middle to the right of second base, scoring Chisenhall and giving the Indians their first walk-off winner of the season.
“Honestly, Tito didn’t put a bunt down,” said Gomes. “I just figured, you know what, obviously the bat hasn’t been working for me lately so I’m going to try to do anything I can just to get him over.”
“Obviously it was good for us, but it was so good for him,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Claudio is really tough on lefties. Lonnie hit that double that kinda set up that inning obviously. But Gomer having the wherewithal to even try to lay down a bunt, which I thought was a really good attempt, because we’ve got to get him to third. And he stayed on that ball, so at worst we’re going to have Lonnie at third, and it snuck through there. I think that’ll do Gomer a world of good. Didn’t hurt us, either.”
With the win, the Indians (27-24) start off the month of June on a positive note and cool off the red hot Rangers (31-22), whose four-game winning streak comes to an end. Cleveland is now 25-6 when scoring four runs or more this season.
Lost in the outcome was a competitive battle on the mound between Hamels and Bauer, who each went toe-to-toe for seven innings before handing the game over to each respective bullpen.
The Rangers took the early lead three batters into the game against Bauer after Jurickson Profar doubled to right, moved to third on a grounder from Ian Desmond, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder to foul territory down the left field line. The Indians would respond with a big bottom half against Hamels, as Jason Kipnis drew a one-out walk and trotted the rest of the way around the bases as Mike Napoli clobbered his 12th homer of the year to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
Texas evened the score at two in the top of the third after a one-out walk from Bobby Wilson. Profar singled him to third and the tying run crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice to short from Desmond.
Cleveland reclaimed the lead in the fifth, using back-to-back two-out hits to go on top, 3-2. Rajai Davis reached on a single to short and scored on a double to right from Kipnis. The lead would last the Indians until the second batter of the seventh inning, when northeast Ohio native Ryan Rua homered to center to knot the game back up at three.
The Tribe had a chance for a last at bat victory in the eighth as the offense got to work against reliever Luke Jackson after two foul outs. Jose Ramirez doubled to center and came around to score on a single from Juan Uribe. The Indians would strand an insurance run at second on a groundout by Chisenhall to end the inning, but Cleveland had a 4-3 lead and was handing the ball to reliable closer Cody Allen.
Unlike his first eleven save opportunities, this one would not go Allen’s way. He walked the leadoff man Mitch Moreland on four pitches. He was replaced by pinch-runner Hanser Alberto, who moved to third on a single to center by Elvis Andrus. Jared Hoying stepped in as a pinch-hitter for Rua and grounded into a fielder’s choice. The out at second was made, but the throw to first was not in time and the run scored easily from third to tie the game at four. Allen got Wilson to ground back to the mound, starting a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Indians had to fend off a Rangers charge in the top of the eleventh with reliever Jeff Manship on the mound. Nomar Mazara singled to left center with one out and Andrus moved him to second with a two-out single, but newly called-up Tom Gorzelanny (1-0, 0.00) came on and retired Hoying on a foul out to Carlos Santana at first.
“I’m exhausted tonight. It’s a good end to a really long day,” said Francona. “You can’t help but have emotions when you’re dealing with some of the stuff we did. It’s a nice way to end the day. I think we’re all going to sleep good.”
QUALITY EFFORT FROM BAUER
Bauer gave the Indians seven innings on the mound, allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. He threw 64 of 105 pitches for strikes.
“Trevor was good,” said Francona. “He gave up a homer late but he pitched really well.”
WALK-OFF NUMBER TWO FOR GOMES
The walk-off hit from Gomes was the second of his career. His first came on May 20, 2013, when he hit a pair of homers, including the walk-off three-run blast to left off of Seattle reliever Charlie Furbush.
THE LONG LOST HIT AND RBI WITH A RUNNER IN SCORING POSITION
The Indians were 1-for-11 coming into the night with runners in scoring position against Texas and were 0-for-5 in the ball game before Uribe’s hit in the bottom of the eighth to take the temporary lead.
LINDOR HITLESS AGAIN
Francisco Lindor was hitless for the series, going 0-for-5 on Wednesday to join a pair of 0-for-3s in the first two games of the set. His batting average (.299) is below the .300 mark at game’s end for the first time since May 15.
The blown save in the ninth by Allen was his first of the season. He was 11-for-11 in save situations to start the year.
HAMELS BOUNCES BACK FROM BAD OUTING
In his first start since giving up five earned in four and two-thirds innings to Pittsburgh, Hamels was steady for the Rangers, keeping them in the ball game. He allowed three runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out five.
He threw 70 of 110 pitches on the night for strikes and was charged with a balk.
NO MORE DOUBLE PLAYS
After grounding into six double plays in the first two games of the series, the Indians avoided the dreaded double play ball on Wednesday. Texas maintains their giant lead in double plays turned in Major League Baseball with 73.
GONE SO SOON
Reliever Shawn Armstrong was sent back to Columbus on Wednesday afternoon, just one day after being recalled by Cleveland. Veteran left-hander Gorzelanny replaced him in the bullpen and outfielder Tyler Naquin also made the trek north.
The Indians received notice Wednesday morning that outfielder Marlon Byrd had a positive PED test. The second failed test of his career is good for 162 games, effectively ending his 15-year Major League career on a sour note.
In what could be his final Major League at bat on Tuesday, he singled.
The Indians will welcome in the reigning World Champion Kansas City Royals for a four-game series beginning Thursday night. Yordano Ventura (4-3, 5.17 ERA) will start for KC, while the Indians will activate right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 2.45) from the 15-day disabled list to make his first start in over a month.
Game time for the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images