Rarely are games on back-to-back nights the same, which is what can make baseball fun. Things were not fun for the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night, however, as one night after plating 15 in an incredible comeback win, they mustered just one run and lost the game on a solo homer in the ninth inning off of one of the best relievers in their bullpen.
Acting manager Brad Mills went to the closer, Cody Allen, with the game tied in the ninth inning after using Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller in the previous two innings to keep it the contest knotted at one.
After striking out Shin-Soo Choo looking on a 3-2 pitch and getting Elvis Andrus to line deep to center, the veteran slugger Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and swung on a first pitch fastball up and in, depositing his 450th career home run into the bleachers in left to put the Rangers up, 2-1. It marked the second time in four days that an opposing club has broken a tie ball game late with a solo blast off of Allen.
Nomar Mazara struck out swinging against Allen to end the inning, but Texas had the lead for good. Closer Matt Bush took over for the ninth and got three outs in the air around a one-out single from Michael Brantley that put the tying run on the bases.
With the win, the Rangers moved back over the .500 mark at 39-38 on the season. The Indians fell to 40-36 with another loss at home.
The night was markedly different than the first contest between the clubs in this week’s four-game series. Texas put up nine runs on Monday, only to allow 13 unanswered and 15 in total as the Indians came back for the win.
The Tribe held an early lead against right-hander Tyson Ross, making his third start of the season after missing two and a half months on the disabled list. Jose Ramirez started the second inning with a walk and stole second base before coming into score on a single to center by Lonnie Chisenhall. Any chance for more runs was quickly squandered as Carlos Santana grounded into a double play two pitches later.
Mike Clevinger got the start for the Indians and looked good in one of the best starts of his young career. He worked an easy first and got out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts in the second after a single by Beltre and a walk to Mazara started the inning.
The Rangers got a leadoff walk from Joey Gallo in the third, but the inning would end two batters later on a strike ‘em out throw ‘em out double play on a close caught stealing call at second base that might not have withstood replay review, had the Rangers challenged. The Indians wasted a leadoff walk by Yan Gomes in the home half of the frame.
That would be the end of the base runners for the Indians until the bottom of the eighth. The Rangers would get a temporary one in the top of the fifth when Robinson Chirinos homered with two outs to tie the game at one. Ross would shut down the Indians from there, as he would combine with reliever Jose Leclerc to set down 15 straight after the Gomes walk before the reliever plunked Santana in the bottom of the eighth. Keone Kela got out of the jam, stranding Santana at second after his stolen base.
Clevinger left after six, giving up just a run on two hits with two walks and a career-high nine strikeouts. Shaw worked a scoreless seventh for the Tribe, striking out a pair. Miller struck out three around a walk by Chirinos with one down in the eighth.
Ross worked six innings as well with a line similar to Clevinger’s, minus the strikeouts. He allowed a run on two hits, walked a pair, and struck out five. Kela earned his fourth win of the season with a scoreless eighth inning, striking out one, while Bush earned his tenth save of the year with his ten-pitch ninth.
Both teams had three hits each, with Beltre accounting for two of them for the Rangers and Chirinos adding the other with his eleventh homer of the season. The Indians had three singles on the night, with Kipnis, Brantley, and Chisenhall each recording base hits.
The two clubs will pick things back up again on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. Right-hander Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.12 ERA) will take the mound for the Rangers, who will look for at least a split of the four-game series. He will look to build off of his best start of the season his last time out, when he threw seven scoreless innings against the New York Yankees while allowing just two hits and striking out ten in a no-decision. Trevor Bauer (6-6, 5.53) will take the ball for the Indians. He has a 4.35 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP against the Rangers in three career starts, but has yet to factor in a decision against them.
Game time from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak