The Arizona Diamondbacks used seven unanswered middle inning runs to come back from a three-run deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field on Friday night by a 7-3 final.
Things were looking promising in the early going for the Indians as they jumped out with runs in each of the first two innings against Arizona starter Shelby Miller, who had a less-than-desirable first season with the Diamondbacks last year, one that included a plus-six ERA and a return trip to the minor leagues after being an All-Star with the Atlanta Braves in 2015.
After striking out Carlos Santana looking, Miller fell behind 2-0 to Francisco Lindor. In his first at bat since hitting a game-winning grand slam in Wednesday night’s win over Texas, the Indians young shortstop picked up where he left off, sending a drive over the wall in right that found its way into the possession of a Cleveland fan wearing a wine-and-gold LeBron James Cavaliers jersey. Lindor’s third homer of the season put the Indians on top, 1-0.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin avoided trouble in the first, giving up a single to David Peralta before the always dangerous Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a double play. The four-time All-Star first baseman would make up for the twin killing later in the game.
Back up in the second, Yandy Diaz and Tyler Naquin each drew walks off of Miller, who seemed to completely lose the strike zone. He was behind 2-1 to Yan Gomes, who loaded the bases with a single to left. Tomlin came to the plate, historically a good hitter in his career, but went down on three straight strikes for the first out. In a position to potentially get out of the jam with the lineup turning over, Miller got ahead of Santana before the Indians leadoff man laced a single to center that scored both Diaz and Naquin to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. Miller was able to avoid any further trouble, however, as Lindor lined to left and Michael Brantley hit a laser to right, but right at the outfielder Peralta to end the threat.
The Indians would not get another base hit until the sixth inning.
Tomlin breezed through the third but got in trouble in the fourth. In a lengthy at bat with one out, Tomlin issued a rare walk, putting Goldschmidt on with one out. Jake Lamb singled to left and Yasmany Tomas doubled to deep center, scoring the D’Backs All-Star to make it a 3-1 game. Brandon Drury grounded out to Diaz at third, driving in a second run to make it a one-run game before Tomlin struck out catcher Chris Iannetta looking.
While Miller had figured out what was not working for him on the mound, his offense figured out how to get to Tomlin and would send ten men to the plate in the fifth. Nick Ahmed reached on an infield single and Miller, attempting to sacrifice him over, was hit in the chest by the Tomlin pitch. The Tribe starter struck out A.J. Pollock and Peralta for two quick outs, but Goldschmidt sent a deep drive to the wall in center that scored both base runners and gave the Diamondbacks the lead. The hit parade was just beginning, as Lamb singled home Goldschmidt to make it 5-3. Dan Otero entered for Tomlin, but it was more of the same as Tomas singled on the first pitch down into the left field corner to score Lamb and he scored easily on a triple by Drury to make it a 7-3 ball game.
The Indians would get no closer, despite loading the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth. The Arizona bullpen limited them to just an Abraham Almonte pinch-hit walk in the sixth and a Naquin eighth inning double the rest of the way as Cleveland went 1-for-12 against the D’Backs relief corps.
Cleveland falls to 3-1 on the season, while Arizona pushed their record to 4-1 on their season opening homestand.
MILLER RECOVERS AFTER ROUGH START
Miller was able to settle down after the early mistakes put him in a hole. Better results in the middle innings allowed him to pitch into the sixth inning, as he ended his night with five and one-third innings worked, five hits and three walks allowed, and three runs surrendered. He struck out seven Indians hitters on the night.
TOMLIN SUFFERS AN OPPOSITE FATE
It was a tale of two Tomlins on Friday night as he looked locked in through the first three innings before the Diamondbacks were able to strike for back-to-back big innings in the middle frames.
He lasted four and two-thirds innings on the night, allowing six runs on seven hits. He uncharacteristically walked one and struck out six while throwing 81 pitches.
SANTANA PLAYS RIGHT FIELD, FALLS SHORT OF AN INDIANS FIRST
Santana made his first regular season start in the outfield in the loss on Friday night. He took his glove to right field so that both he and Encarnacion could be in the lineup with the interleague series.
At the plate, Santana came up just one run scored short of doing something that had not been done in Indians history, dating back to at least 1913. He entered play with one hit, one run scored, and one run batted in in each of his first three games of the season, something done by just three other players in Indians history (Leon Wagner, Toby Harrah, and Grady Sizemore). Santana accomplished two of the three on his two-run single in the second, but was unable to score himself to claim the feat to his own.
HOME RUN BARRAGE
Lindor’s first inning home run was his third in four at bats. It moved him to the top of the leaderboard among his teammates.
CHISENHALL STARTS REHAB ASSIGNMENT
Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall began his rehab assignment Friday night as the Columbus Clippers took on the Louisville Bats. He was 1-for-4 at the plate with a single and a strikeout while hitting second in the lineup and playing designated hitter. The Clippers dropped their first game of the season, 7-2.
Chisenhall is expected to be in the lineup again on Saturday and will work in right field.
KIPNIS CLOSER TO RETURN
Indians injured second baseman Jason Kipnis will head to Akron and join the Double-A RubberDucks while working his way back from a mild strain of his rotator cuff.
Cleveland and Arizona will play the middle game of their three-game series with Saturday’s 8:40 PM ET first pitch.
The Diamondbacks will send number one starter Zack Greinke (0-0, 3.60 ERA) to the mound for his second start of the 2017 campaign. After taking a no-decision in his debut on Opening Day, Greinke will look to move back into the positive side of the win column in his career against the Indians – he is 9-9 all-time in 28 games (including 23 starts) with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP against Cleveland. The Indians will call upon Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA in 2016), who will pitch against the team that drafted him back in 2011. He has faced the Diamondbacks once in his career, giving up two runs on four hits over eight innings in a no-decision in 2014.
Photo: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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