In what started out as a game dominated by pitching, it would be big scoring efforts in the late innings from both teams and a four-run rally in the bottom of the eighth by the Cleveland Indians that gave them a 7-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
The Rangers tied the game at 2-2 late with a clutch two-out home run from Robinson Chirinos against Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who was pitching deep in unusual starting pitching territory with his 122nd pitch of the night. While he had earned the right to take the mound after six innings of one-run baseball, the noticeable absence of Andrew Miller and some less-than-stellar efforts from the relief corps may have led to manager Terry Francona riding the durable arm of his starter a little later than he should have.
After just three runs combined between the two clubs through the first six innings, both teams would score in their at bats in the final three frames.
The Indians responded with a run in the bottom of the seventh to reclaim the lead. Using three straight singles from Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Jose Ramirez, Cleveland moved up 3-2 on the latter’s hit off of Alex Claudio. A double play ball and a groundout sandwiched around a walk by Yan Gomes would leave runners on the corners, which would prove costly.
Tyler Olson, who entered for Bauer in the bottom of the seventh after the game-tying homer, returned for the eighth but got into trouble. Delino DeShields reached on an infield single but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Shin-Soo Choo. A wild pitch by Olson moved Choo into scoring position and back-to-back doubles by Jurickson Profar and Nomar Mazara plated a pair of runs and gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead. Francona turned to his closer Cody Allen to keep the game at one, but he needed to throw a lot of pitches to get out of the jam, putting two men on base via walk and hit batter to load the bases in the process before retiring two outs.
Down to their last six potential outs at the plate, the Indians staged another rally in the home half of the eighth. Rajai Davis singled to start the inning against Chris Martin. After Roberto Perez popped up a bunt in foul territory for the first out, Bradley Zimmer singled to left to put two on. Davis picked off third, which enabled him to score the tying run easily on an infield single by Lindor off of Martin’s glove. Kipnis flied to right with two on for the second out, but Ramirez delivered again with a key RBI-double off of the top of the wall, narrowly missing a home run, in right to score Zimmer to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. Jesse Chavez was summoned from the bullpen by Texas manager Jeff Banister to face Yonder Alonso, but the lefty singled through the shifted right side of the infield to knock in two more runs to make it a 7-4 game.
The night would not end easily for the Tribe, however, as Allen returned to close out the win. He allowed a leadoff single to number nine hitter Drew Robinson to cap a nine-pitch at bat. After DeShields struck out swinging for the first out, Robinson moved to second on indifference before a walk by Choo. Profar moved both runners into scoring position with a grounder to Kipnis at second, but an infield single by Mazara drove in Robinson to make it a 7-5 score. With Allen at 41 pitches, Francona made the call to the ‘pen again, this time bringing on newly called up Jeff Beliveau. He missed with three straight curves to the dangerous lefty Joey Gallo, but he recovered with the fastball and froze the slugger on a 3-2 “heater” low and in at 89 MPH to clinch the victory for Cleveland.
The Indians (15-12) moved to 3-4 on their current eleven-game homestand and ended a short two-game losing skid. The Rangers (11-19) are now 7-7 on the road this season.
In the first game between the two clubs this season, the Indians struggled to get much going against a Rangers team that has issues and injuries on all sides of the ball. Tough left-hander Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Rangers and contained the Indians offense for much of the game, but he was matched by another strong start from Cleveland’s Bauer.
Bauer worked around base runners in the first two innings after giving up a leadoff double to start the game to DeShields and walking Gallo to begin the second before he was thrown out on the back end of a strike out trying to steal second. He retired the side in order in the third with a pair of strikeouts before the Rangers touched the scoreboard in the fourth. Choo and Profar singled to start the inning and each moved up on a fly out to left by Mazara. Gallo came through with an RBI-groundout to second to give the Rangers the lead.
The Indians got their first base runner of the night with two outs in the second, when Brandon Guyer walked. He moved into scoring position on a single by Davis and both moved up on a wild pitch by Hamels, but Perez struck out looking to leave a pair.
After a rough third marked by a pair of strikeouts, the Indians responded to the Rangers’ fourth inning run with one of their own. Ramirez struck out to start the inning but reached first base on the third strike wild pitch by Hamels. After Edwin Encarnacion flied to center for the first out, Gomes was hit by a pitch to put two on. Guyer grounded to third, but the ball was misplayed into an error after the force at second, allowing Ramirez to come in to score the tying run.
Bauer struck out the side in order in the fifth before the Indians took their first lead of the game. Zimmer walked with one out and moved up on a single to left by Lindor. Kipnis then delivered a big double to deep center that scored the speedy Zimmer from second and put two in scoring position with one out for the heart of the order. The Indians, however, could do no more damage against Hamels that frame, as Ramirez lined sharply to left and Encarnacion struck out swinging.
BAUER PROVIDES RELIEF
Bauer pitched deep into the night, likely to help save the bullpen some extra work. Unfortunately for both him and his Indians teammates, it brought Chirinos back to the plate, and the recently homer happy catcher tagged him with a home run for the second time in his career.
The Indians’ right-hander worked six and two-thirds quality innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and a season-high eleven strikeouts. He threw 122 pitches, also a season-high, while firing off 76 strikes.
WILD NIGHT FOR HAMELS
Command has been an occasional issue for Hamels this season and some of those problems appeared during his five innings on the mound on Monday. He walked three batters, threw three wild pitches, and hit a batter in his outing. One of those wild pitches led to a free base runner that would eventually come around to score the first Indians run of the game.
Aside from the wildness, Hamels put up good numbers, working five innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with the three walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 104 pitches, 64 for strikes, and was ahead in the count on the first pitch to 17 of the 24 batters that he faced on the night.
BELIEVE IN BELIVEAU
For a veteran with a limited amount of big league experience dating back to 2012, Beliveau found himself in a rather significant spot when he took the mound with two outs in the ninth inning with the go-ahead run at the plate in the intimidating slugger Gallo. Francona had faith in the 31-year-old, who got the job done, striking out Gallo to end the game.
“We have some guys pitching maybe in situations they haven’t pitched before,” said Francona after the win. “We may have to win a few games like this. Sometimes that’s the way it is.”
In doing so, Beliveau did something that he had not done in the Majors since 2014 – earn a save. It was just the second career save for the southpaw.
“It’s stuff you dream about,” shared Beliveau after his first save of the year. “My heart was pumping a little more than usual.”
IT’S GONNA BE MAY
The Indians will flip the calendar to May in game two of their three-game set with the Rangers on Tuesday night. Right-handers Doug Fister (1-2, 3.93 ERA) and Mike Clevinger (2-0, 2.56) will be the pitching matchup.
Fister made his first start off of the disabled list on April 25, but could not finish the fifth inning. He allowed two runs on four hits, walking three and striking out three in his first game action since April 9. He defeated the Indians twice a season ago, posting a 3.43 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in the process.
Clevinger took a no-decision his last time out after another big inning stung him against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed four runs in that start on Thursday, working around eight hits and a walk in six innings of work. In his only appearance against the Rangers last season, he worked six innings of two-hit baseball, allowing one run while striking out nine.
First pitch from what is expected to be a beautiful spring day on the shores of Lake Erie is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.
TRIBE TRIVIA TIME
With a Lone Star State of mind in today’s no-hitter special edition of Tribe Trivia, here are the answers to this morning’s trivia questions.
The Indians acquired this future no-hit pitcher from the Rangers in 1973. The cousin of Cleveland second baseman Duane Kuiper, the duo would team up on the Indians during parts of the 1974 and 1975 seasons. It was in 1974 that this right-hander faced one batter over the minimum in a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s, with his own throwing error the only thing separating him from a perfect game.
Who is this pitcher?
– Dick Bosman
The Rangers have thrown five no-hitters in their history (and three since the last one thrown by the Tribe). Less than two years after firing a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s in 1973, he was traded to the Indians as part of the package for future Hall of Famer and the first Cy Young winner in Cleveland history, Gaylord Perry.
Who is this pitcher?
– Jim Bibby
The second no-no, thrown by this future Hall of Fame right-hander, would come in 1977 in one of his final starts for Texas before being traded to Pittsburgh. He joined the Indians in a trade in December of 1980 and spent some up and down years with the club before being traded back to Minnesota in 1985.
Which Hall of Famer is he?
– Bert Blyleven
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images