Umpiring Runs Afoul as Cleveland Earns Split with Houston; Indians 10, Astros 7

The Cleveland Indians used three big innings, several big hits, and one bad call that went their way to earn a series split with the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon, 10-7.

Trevor Bauer brought a perfect 4-0 record in four starts against the Astros into the game with an ERA and WHIP both under 1.00. Despite the prior failures against the Cleveland right-hander, Houston got a lead just two batters into the game as George Springer singled and scored on a double to center by rookie Alex Bregman. Houston starter David Paulino, making his Major League debut, gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Santana, but was unharmed and used a double play ball to wipe away a one-out single by Lonnie Chisenhall in the second.

Things got a bit goofy in the third, when the Indians took a lead and never looked back.

Kipnis - David Maxwell/Getty Images
Kipnis – David Maxwell/Getty Images

Tyler Naquin walked and after an out, stole second. Santana grounded him to third for the second out, but Jason Kipnis came up with a big clutch double, driving in Naquin to tie the game at one. Francisco Lindor followed with another timely two-out hit, singling to right-center to score Kipnis to put Cleveland ahead, 2-1. Mike Napoli was plunked by a pitch from Paulino and both runners moved up on a wild pitch before Jose Ramirez drew a walk to load the bases. With Chisenhall at the plate with a 1-2 count, Chisenhall attempted to hold up on a pitch in the dirt and fouled the pitch off, but to the surprise of all, home plate umpire Jim Joyce did not call a foul ball. Lindor jogged across the plate and Napoli had nearly done the same when Joyce called time on the field while Houston catcher Jason Castro argued at the dish.

After meeting with his umpiring crew, the call remained a live ball and not reviewable. Lindor and Napoli were awarded home plate and Ramirez was sent back to third. Houston manager A.J. Hinch was ejected arguing the call.

“I went to each crew member and asked them the same thing,” said Joyce after the game. “If any of them had it hitting the bat, I would have turned around and called a foul ball. My partners couldn’t help me on it.”

Now staked to a 4-2 lead, Bauer returned for the fourth and gave up a solo shot to Yulieski Gurriel to lead off the inning before retiring the next three. It was the second homer of Gurriel’s career and the second in as many days.

The Indians loaded the bases again in the bottom half against reliever Brady Rodgers. Abraham Almonte doubled and moved to third on the first out of the inning. After a strikeout by Chris Gimenez, Santana and Kipnis each walked. In stepped Lindor, who once again delivered with a big two-out hit, as his two-run single put the Indians on top 6-2.

Houston scored again in the fifth, as Bregman grounded in Tony Kemp, who had walked with one out and moved to third on a double by Springer.

Santana - David Maxwell/Getty Images
Santana – David Maxwell/Getty Images

Looking to build on their three-run lead, the Indians did just that against Rodgers in the home half of the fifth. Ramirez doubled to lead off and Chisenhall walked before a two-run triple from Almonte made it 8-3. Michael Feliz entered and struck out the first two he faced before Santana blasted a two-out, two-run shot to the last rows of the right field seats to blow the game open at 10-3.

Bauer exited after two batters in the sixth after Gurriel singled and scored on a two-run homer to right by Colby Rasmus. Dan Otero came on and retired three of the four he faced to end the inning.

The Astros added more in the seventh against rookie right-hander Perci Garner. Springer walked on five pitches and scored on a triple by Bregman. He scored Houston’s seventh run of the game on a wild pitch with Gurriel at the plate.

The scoring stopped with Garner’s strikeout of Gurriel. Andrew Miller entered and retired three straight (with a pair of strikeouts) before turning the game over to Bryan Shaw with two outs in the eighth. Shaw got a lineout from the only batter he faced. Cody Allen took over in the ninth and retired the side in order, striking out a pair while earning his 26th save of the season.

The Indians (81-58) finished their homestand with an 8-2 record, winning the first two series before drawing a split in the four-gamer with the Astros (74-66). Cleveland picked up a half-game on idle Detroit and reduced its magic number to 18. They also matched their win total for the entire 2015 season, when the club finished 81-80.

Bauer - David Maxwell/Getty Images
Bauer – David Maxwell/Getty Images


Bauer (11-6, 3.86 ERA) got the win but it did not come easy. He was the beneficiary of ten runs before he exited the game, having worked five-plus innings with five runs allowed on seven hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.


With his strikeout of Marwin Gonzalez to start the top of the eighth, Miller set a new career high with his 104th strikeout of the season. He added to that tally one batter later when he struck out Tyler White for the second time in as many nights.


One game after a three-hit effort on Wednesday, Lindor drove in three and added two more hits to push his season batting average to .322.


While the rookie Polanco (0-1, 12.00 ERA) got out of the inning after the two-run wild pitch with two down in the third, it turned a one-run game into a three-run deficit for Houston, potentially changing the outcome of the game for both clubs.

“We have the ability to go to replay, which they don’t,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Nobody ever wants to have a call go against them.”


Joe Musgrave, who was originally scheduled to pitch against the Indians, was pushed back and will pitch at home as the Astros returned to Houston to play three games against the Chicago Cubs.


The game was delayed 55 minutes by rain in the sixth.


The Indians headed out of town after the game to relocate to Minneapolis, where they will play three games over the weekend with the Minnesota Twins. Danny Salazar (11-6, 3.78) will get the start in game one of the series.

Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images

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