The Indians fought back with a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, but fell in extra innings to the Texas Rangers, 8-6, on Tuesday night in Cleveland on back-to-back home runs in the top of the 12th.
Reliever Nick Goody was on the mound for his third different inning of relief, looking to keep the game tied at six. Nomar Mazara grounded out on a shot to short, but Joey Gallo delivered a big blast with a solo homer to the seats in front of the bullpens to put the Rangers up, 7-6. Isiah Kiner-Falefa crushed the very next offering from Goody into the bleachers in left to give the Rangers an 8-6 edge. Zach McAllister took over and struck out a pair around a two-out single to end the inning.
Alex Claudio returned for the bottom of the 12th, getting a liner to right before two grounders to close out the comeback win.
The Indians (15-13) fell to 0-3 on the season in extra frames, while the Rangers (12-19) improved to 3-0 when playing bonus baseball.
With the way things had transpired through the first six and a half innings, Cleveland had no business even being in the game after falling in a six-run hole.
The game was scoreless through four. Indians starter Mike Clevinger allowed three hits and a walk through the first four frames, while Rangers starter Doug Fister gave up two hits, walked one, and hit a batter in the same span.
In the fifth, the Rangers took the lead as Clevinger got rattled on the mound. With two down in the inning, light-hitting leadoff man Delino DeShields deposited a 3-1 fastball onto the Home Run Porch to put the Rangers up, 1-0. Former Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and Jurickson Profar followed with back-to-back doubles, giving Texas a 2-0 lead.
The Indians got the leadoff men on base in the fifth and sixth, but could not cut into the deficit against Fister. Yan Gomes reached on an infield single to start the fifth on an out at first overturned by replay. The next three would be retired in order. Cleveland put two on to start the sixth, as Jason Kipnis walked and Jose Ramirez reached on an infield single, but Michael Brantley lined out, Edwin Encarnacion struck out, and Yonder Alonso grounded out to leave a pair.
Texas broke the game open in the top of the seventh as Clevinger returned to the mound. Drew Robinson singled to deep right with one out before DeShields popped up a bunt to Gomes. Jeff Beliveau came on in relief and was not the effective pitcher that he had been in previous outings, hitting Choo with a pitch before a double by Profar into the left field corner scored both base runners to double the Rangers lead to 4-0. Mazara found a curveball to his liking and smashed it over Bradley Zimmer in center for a two-out, two-run home run to make it a 6-0 deficit for the Tribe.
The Indians would respond with a pair of runs in the seventh against Fister. Gomes led off with a single to left. Tyler Naquin grounded back to the mound, but Gomes reached second safely on a throwing error by Fister. Zimmer and Francisco Lindor each flied out, but Kipnis came through with a double to deep right, scoring both runners to make it a 6-2 game while sending Fister to the showers. Jake Diekman retired Ramirez on a grounder to second to get out of the jam.
Both clubs went quietly through the eighth and Matt Belisle worked a perfect top of the ninth to set the stage for some late inning heroics in Cleveland. With closer Keone Kela on the mound in a non-save situation, Naquin started things off with a solid single to center. Zimmer grounded into a force at second for the first out before Lindor and Kipnis each singled to load the bases. Ramirez stepped in with a chance to be the hero for the second straight night, but in a rare turn of events, he struck out swinging on a 3-2 curveball for the second out. Cleanup man Brantley stepped in, looking at strike one before chasing a curveball out of the zone for the second strike. With the Indians down to one last strike, Brantley caught a third straight curveball and crushed a no-doubter to the seats in right field for a two-out, game-tying grand slam, knotting the game up at six.
Tyler Olson started the tenth, striking out the first two batters before a two-out single by Kiner-Falefa. Goody came on and struck out pinch-hitter Renato Nunez swinging. Claudio handled the tenth for Texas, erasing Brandon Guyer’s one-out single to center on a double play ground ball by Zimmer.
Goody had traffic to contend with in the eleventh, but escaped unharmed. Robinson Chirinos singled to start the inning and was lifted for a pinch-runner. Robinson popped up a bunt to Gomes and DeShields flied to center before a walk by Choo moved the go-ahead run to second. Goody responded to the free pass with a swinging strikeout of Profar to end the inning. The Indians got their own man into scoring position in the bottom of the inning against Claudio as Ramirez ripped a ground rule double down the third base line and into the stands, but Brantley’s heroics had been all used up for the night as he grounded to first to end the last real threat of the game for the Tribe.
HOME RUNS HURT
Tribe pitching combined to allow four home runs on the night. Clevinger allowed one in his six and two-thirds innings of work, giving up three runs in total on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Beliveau was charged with three runs on two hits and a hit batter and did not retire any of the three men that he faced.
The Indians bullpen was thin to start the day, as Cody Allen was unavailable on Tuesday night after throwing 41 pitches in the Indians’ win on Monday.
FISTER FIGURES OUT TRIBE AGAIN
Fister looked to be well on his way to another victory over the Indians, something that he did twice in three chances against Cleveland last season. He worked six and two-thirds innings, allowing a pair of unearned runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Both unearned runs were a result of Fister’s doing, however, as his throwing error to second base allowed Gomes to reach safely and both he and Naquin would come in to score on the two-run double from Kipnis later in the inning.
LONG TIME COMING
In addition to being an unbelievable moment in the clutch, Brantley’s grand slam marked several interesting feats.
It was the first career grand slam in the ten-year career of the left fielder, after previously slugging 72 homers in that span.
It was just the second time in Brantley’s career that he has hit an 0-2 pitch yard.
It also marked the first game-tying grand slam hit by an Indians player in the ninth inning since Toby Harrah did so against the Oakland Athletics on July 20, 1980. The Indians also lost that game in extras.
There will be even less rest than normal for the two clubs due to the extra frames, as game time for the series finale on Wednesday afternoon is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET.
The Indians will send right-hander Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.18 ERA) to once again play the stopper on the mound. He gave his longest start of the season his last time out in a win over Seattle, pitching eight and two-thirds innings of three-run baseball, allowing four hits and issuing three walks while striking out ten in his 41st career double-digit strikeout game.
Texas will turn to left-hander Matt Moore (1-3, 5.33), who last appeared on April 29 with a scoreless relief appearance in the eighth inning of a 7-2 loss to Toronto. His first five outings of the season were starts, losing the first three in a row before a solid win over his former Tampa Bay Rays club, allowing an unearned run in seven innings of work before giving up three runs in five innings to Oakland in his last start on April 23.
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