The Indians may have had their fill of Arizona for one season.
What was a 1-1 game heading into the bottom of the sixth inning ended up an 11-2 drubbing as the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup solved Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer the third time through the order, putting up four runs in the inning before erasing any doubt with six more in the eighth in the rout.
The Diamondbacks were already the highest scoring team in baseball coming in to the night and their efforts at the plate did nothing to hurt that status. It just took them more than five innings to figure it out.
The first five innings marked a pitchers’ duel between Arizona starter Zack Greinke and the former Diamondback Bauer. Five of the first six batters of the game went down on strikes, setting the tone at least initially for what was to come, for a while. Greinke gave up his first base hit in the second as Jose Ramirez singled to right, but promptly erased him on a double play ball off the bat of Yandy Diaz. Bauer gave up two singles in the bottom of the inning, but struck out Jeff Mathis looking with runners on the corners to escape unharmed.
Cleveland touched the scoreboard first in the fourth after a leadoff double from Carlos Santana. He moved to third on a fly to right by Francisco Lindor and came in to score the game’s first run on a single by Michael Brantley to make it a 1-0 ball game.
Bauer had retired seven straight before Brandon Drury singled to right to start the home half of the fifth. He moved to third on a single by Jeremy Hazelbaker and came in to score on a double play grounder. The bases were now clear, but the game was back to even at 1-1.
Greinke escaped with a little help from the first base umpire in the sixth. Lindor doubled high off of the wall in right center with one out and moved to third with two outs on a wild pitch from Greinke. With slugger Edwin Encarnacion at the plate and the go-ahead run 90 feet away, the Indians first baseman was rung up on a check swing before angrily chucking the bat away and somehow avoiding ejection.
The missed opportunity loomed large as Bauer returned to the mound for the bottom of the sixth. After retiring Chris Owings on a fly to left, he had thrown what appeared to be ball four to David Peralta. The call went in Bauer’s favor, or so it seemed, as Peralta sent the next pitch squarely off of the foul pole in right for a solo homer to put the D’Backs on top. Things quickly escalated from there as Paul Goldschmidt doubled to right and stole third before a strikeout by Jake Lamb put the second out on the board. With a chance to get out of it, Bauer instead gave up a massive clout to straightaway center field by Yasmany Tomas, who strolled into third with his second RBI-triple of the series to put Arizona up, 3-1. Bryan Shaw came on from the bullpen, but he could not slow down his former club as a double from Drury and an RBI-single from Mathis knocked in two more runs to give Arizona a comfortable 5-1 lead.
All doubt was erased two innings later when the D’Backs sent eleven men to the plate and blew the game open. Lamb doubled off of reliever Boone Logan and Shawn Armstrong fell on the sword for the Tribe, giving up three straight singles to score a run and load the bases. After retiring Mathis on a pop up, he gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann and another RBI-base knock to Owings. Peralta walked to reload the bases and Daniel Descalso, pinch-hitting for Goldschmidt, drew a walk to force in the tenth run of the night. A fielder’s choice from Lamb made it eleven before a flyout stopped the bleeding.
The Indians would add a final tally in the ninth after Lindor earned a hustle single to short and scored two outs later on a double by Ramirez. Diaz grounded to short to end the contest.
The loss dropped the Indians to 3-2 on the campaign, with the Diamondbacks improving to 5-1 to start their season and homestand.
GREINKE IN A GROOVE
Greinke (1-0, 2.31 ERA) pitched like the high-priced number one starter that he is as he improved to 10-9 in his career against the Indians. He allowed just one run over six and two-thirds innings, striking out six and walking none in his second strong outing to start the season.
BAUER BATTLED BUT FALLS SHORT
For five innings, Bauer (0-1, 6.35) had gone toe-to-toe with Greinke, with their stat sheets looking like mirror images of each other. After the Peralta home run to tilt the scales, things changed rapidly and Bauer was on the hook for the loss.
He worked five and two-thirds innings, charged with four runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven over 102 pitches.
DEATH BY ERA
Armstrong was charged with five runs on five hits with two walks in an inning of work, jumping his ERA from 0.00 coming in to 15.00.
D’Backs third baseman Lamb hit fourth on the day of his bobblehead giveaway and got in on the fun, hitting his second double of the season when he greeted Logan in the eighth. Lamb also scored a run, drove one in, and struck out twice on the night.
BRANTLEY TO TAKE A DAY OFF
Brantley was set to have an off day on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers with a scheduled day off on Thursday, but wound up entering the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter.
Manager Terry Francona is expected to try again to rest his left fielder on Sunday with the Diamondbacks starting a left-hander. The Indians have a travel day on Monday, giving Brantley a chance at two days of rest before the Tribe opens the home schedule on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
One of the keys so far in the series has been the production from the Diamondbacks with two outs. Eight of their 18 runs through the first two games have scored in the high-pressure situation, while the Indians had been unable to drive in a single run with two outs until the ninth inning Saturday.
The Indians went 13-7 during interleague play last season while touring the NL East. That mark was tied for the fourth-best in all of baseball, but the team is 0-2 in the early going this season.
Cleveland will play a home-and-home series with the Cincinnati Reds in May, will visit Colorado for two games on June 6 and 7, will host the Los Angeles Dodgers for three from June 13-15 and the San Diego Padres from July 4-6 before three in San Francisco after the All-Star break on July 17, 18, and 19. The Indians’ final interleague series will be in a rematch with the Rockies at Progressive Field on August 8 and 9.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD
The finale from Chase Field is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET on Sunday.
Arizona will go with left-hander Patrick Corbin (0-1, 4.50 ERA) in the contest. The 27-year-old southpaw and 2013 NL All-Star, making his second start of the season after allowing three runs over four innings in a loss to the San Francisco Giants last week, will make his first career start against the Indians. He is 2-4 in nine career interleague games with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.
Cleveland will call up on the services of right-hander Corey Kluber (0-0, 7.50), who will make his second start of the season and his final start at the age of 30. He gave up an uncharacteristic three home runs in a no-decision against the Texas Rangers in the season opener while dealing with blisters on his pitching hand. He worked seven scoreless innings in his lone career start against the D’Backs in 2014 and owns an 11-2 record in 15 total interleague starts in his career with a 2.30 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP.
Photo: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Release Almonte. Trade Shaw and Chisenhall. Diaz should stay and call up Zimmer.