With their backs against the wall this week, the Indians brought little to the plate and little relief. Friday’s 8-2 loss to the Washington Nationals, coupled with a 6-2 win by Tampa Bay in Toronto, officially eliminated Cleveland from the 2019 postseason.
The end results mirrored those of recent days after the Indians dropped two of three to the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week in must-win situations. The Tribe was in the game briefly, but a disastrous five-run sixth inning by the Cleveland bullpen ended the team’s playoff hopes with one messy frame.
The final score reflected everything that needed to be known as the Indians did not take control of the ball game against one of the better teams in the senior circuit.
Washington scored a pair in the second inning against rookie right-hander Zach Plesac as baby shark Gerardo Parra doubled to right-center with two outs to score Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki after their singles with one and two down respectively. The Indians countered in the top of the third against rookie Austin Voth, as Greg Allen became the first Cleveland hitter to reach base with an infield single to first. Ryan Flaherty doubled him home to make it a 2-1 game. Plesac sacrificed Flaherty to third for the first out and Francisco Lindor tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center to even the score at two.
Plesac allowed two to reach in the third and fourth innings but kept the Nats off of the board. The fifth was highlighted by three straight strikeouts to end Plesac’s season, but the bullpen could not keep the game close. Nick Goody came on for manager Terry Francona and promptly walked the leadoff hitter Juan Soto. Kendrick flied to left before Matt Adams reached on a rare infield single to put two on. Suzuki drew a walk on five pitches to load the bases for Parra, who again put the Nationals in the lead with his third RBI of the game, lofting a sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-2. Pinch-hitter and former Tribe All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera delivered the dagger, doubling to right to plate a pair to make it 5-2. Francona went to the mound to retrieve Goody after his rough outing and called on Adam Cimber, but his second pitch to Trea Turner was belted over the wall in left for a two-run shot to make it 7-2, effectively putting the game out of reach. Adam Eaton struck out to end the inning.
Mike Freeman ended a run of 14 straight retired by the Nationals with a two-out double in the seventh against Hunter Strickland, but he was the last Indian to reach base. Roberto Perez left him in scoring position with a strikeout. The next six went down in order after Perez, while Parra added his fourth RBI with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth off of Dan Otero.
In elimination, the Indians dropped to 93-67 on the season. Washington helped its pursuit of the top Wild Card spot and home field advantage for the play-in game while moving to 91-69.
Plesac left after five with the game tied. He allowed two runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts on 74 pitches. Goody’s 20 pitches led to four runs on two hits and two walks as his outing proved to be the turning point in the night.
Voth won for the second time this season with a strong quality start. He allowed two of the Tribe’s three hits on the night, giving up two runs while striking out five in six innings.
The Indians’ three hits came from Freeman, Allen, and Flaherty, the team’s five, seven, and eight hitters. The top four spots in the lineup went 0-for-14, while the club as a whole had just one at bat with runners in scoring position.
The Indians will play out the final two games while looking to play spoilers at best to the Nationals’ hopes to host next week’s Wild Card Game. Solid left-hander Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.05 ERA) will start for Washington, while Adam Plutko (7-4, 4.25) will go for Cleveland in a 4:05 PM ET start from Nationals Park.
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