Dodgers’ Crazy Eighth Trips Up Tribe; Dodgers 6, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 14, Jun 2017
A wild and crazy eighth inning went in favor of the Dodgers on Wednesday night as Progressive Field became the site of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Los Angeles plated four runs in bizarre fashion and held off another late Indians charge in a 6-4 victory.
The Cleveland Indians are a .500 team with 100 games to go. While that may have been a positive statement during many seasons in the long history of the franchise, it now serves as a dramatic realization of where the Indians are this season. The Tribe did not roll over after the Dodgers took an early 2-0 lead, nor did they when Los Angeles touched up Andrew Miller for a second night in a row, but in the end, Cleveland ran out of innings and ran out of time.
Miller took the mound in a 2-2 tie in the eighth after seven solid innings from Corey Kluber. After a heavy workload in Tuesday night’s loss, one that featured a late inning go-ahead home run from rookie Cody Bellinger, Miller made the surprise return to the mound and was once again burned in shocking fashion. After retiring Yasiel Puig on a fly to right to start the inning, Kike Hernandez pinch-hit for Chase Utley. The utility man fell behind 1-2 and, in protect mode, swung at a fastball off the plate and lined it the other way over the wall in right for a solo shot to put the Dodgers on top, 3-2. For the first time since becoming a full-time reliever, Miller was tagged with home runs in consecutive appearances.
A shocked Miller continued on as Los Angeles got an infield single to short by Corey Seager. Justin Turner and Bellinger both walked as Miller lost his usual trustworthy command with the pair of rare free passes. Looking for a double play ball, Miller got one as Yasmani Grandal grounded to short, but second baseman Erik Gonzalez was nowhere near the bag as he fielded the throw from Francisco Lindor and fired to first for what was ruled on the field as an inning-ending double play. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wasted no time jumping from the dugout looking to review the play and replay showed easily that Gonzalez was not even in the neighborhood of the second base bag. Seager scored on the overturn to make it 4-2. Zach McAllister came on for Miller and promptly gave up a two-run single to left to Chris Taylor, ripping the game open at 6-2.
For the second straight night, the Indians rallied late. With one out against reliever Luis Avilan, Lindor doubled to right and came in to score on a double by Michael Brantley. Carlos Santana grounded to short for the second out and Roberts went back to his bullpen for the hard-throwing Pedro Baez. He got ahead of Edwin Encarnacion 0-2, but on a checked swing, the Indians slugger hit the ball through the shifted infield, scoring Brantley from second to make it a two-run deficit. Jose Ramirez doubled deep to right to put the tying run at second base, but Lonnie Chisenhall popped out to third to end the inning and the last real threat for the Indians.
The Dodgers got a pair of singles in the ninth, but could not score, bringing closer Kenley Jansen on for the save. He retired the Indians in order, getting a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to record his 13th save of the season.
It all spoiled a milestone evening from Kluber, who made his third consecutive strong and quality start on the mound since his return from the disabled list at the beginning of the month.
Kluber struck out a pair in the first inning, but the Dodgers used some trickery to take a 2-0 lead. Grandal walked with one out and moved to third on a double by Taylor. Logan Forsythe flied to right for the second out before Joc Pederson reached on a dribbler to Ramirez at third to drive in the first run of the night. On the next pitch to Puig, Pederson broke for second, leading catcher Yan Gomes to attempt to cut him down. Taylor headed to the plate with the ball heading towards second and Gonzalez returned Gomes’ throw back to him but was low and wide with it, allowing Taylor to score on the steal of home, the second such theft of the year for the Dodgers. Puig would reach on another infield hit, putting runners on the corners. With Utley at the plate, Puig broke for second as the Dodgers appeared to be pulling off another double steal attempt. This time, Gomes threw to third, catching Pederson too far off of the bag and getting him into a rundown, where he was tagged out to end the inning.
LA starter Brandon McCarthy faced two over the minimum through the first five innings. He worked around a two-out double by Brantley in the first and erased Encarnacion on a double play after his leadoff walk in the second. Brantley walked with one out in the fourth, but advanced no further than second.
In the sixth, the Indians finally put together something against the veteran right-hander. Bradley Zimmer singled to center with one out and moved to third on a single by Lindor, putting runners on the corners and bringing Roberts out to the mound for the quick hook of McCarthy. Grant Dayton entered and got Brantley to fly to right-center, but the speedy Zimmer was able to beat the throw from Puig to make it a 2-1 game.
Josh Fields took over in the bottom of the seventh and retired Encarnacion on a grounder to short before Ramirez stepped to the plate and pulled an inside pitch over the wall in right for a solo blast to tie the game at two. Chisenhall nearly replicated Ramirez’s effort, but hooked the ball just foul before flying out to left. Field walked Gomes before striking out Gonzalez, sending the game into its unusual eighth frame.
The Indians dropped back to the .500 mark with the loss as the club is now 31-31 with 100 games left on the schedule. The Dodgers won their sixth straight to improve to 41-25 on the season, remaining in the top spot in the National League West.
Kluber took a no-decision in a game that featured the 1,000th strikeout in his Major League career. With his fifth of ten strikeouts on the night, he became the eleventh pitcher in club history to reach that threshold and became the fastest ever by a Clevelander, doing in 148 games what took Bob Feller 167 outings. He became the seventh fastest to reach 1,000 strikeouts in Major League history.
He worked seven innings in a quality start, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and one hit by pitch. He needed 106 pitches to clear seven, throwing 71 of them for strikes and inducing 21 swinging strikes in the contest.
McCarthy took his own no-decision despite allowing just one run on three hits with two walks in five and one-third innings. He left with 89 pitches thrown, his fourth-highest total of the season, but he was unable to end his personal two-game losing streak.
The Indians will look to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon when they send their former stopper, Josh Tomlin (3-8, 5.73 ERA), to the mound as the veteran righty looks to get back on track after dropping five of his last six starts. The Dodgers will call upon former Tribe reliever, left-hander Rich Hill (3-2, 3.77), who has made just seven starts this season while spending time on the disabled list.
First pitch of the series finale from Progressive Field is scheduled for 12:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images