Cubs Walk Off Tribe on Back-to-Back Bean Balls; Cubs 6, Indians 5
Bob Toth | On 15, Sep 2020
When things are going bad, teams have a tendency of finding new ways to lose. That was exactly the case on Tuesday night in Chicago, where the visiting Clevelanders lost on a bases loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cubs a 6-5 walk-off victory.
Trailing by a 5-3 count in the top of the ninth, the Indians pulled off a rally that felt improbable given the club’s play of late. Facing closer Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Naylor walked on five pitches. Delino DeShields, with three hits to his credit already on the night, grounded slowly to third to move the runner into scoring position. Jeffress fell behind Francisco Lindor 2-0 before the Tribe shortstop caught a sinker thigh-high and out over the plate. He lofted a fly ball the opposite way and just over the left field wall to tie the game at five. Mike Freeman followed with a walk before Jose Ramirez grounded into a double play.
The Cubs got help from the Tribe bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. Ian Happ flied to right to start Oliver Perez’s night. Kris Bryant worked an eight-pitch walk and moved to third on a single to center by Anthony Rizzo. Interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. went to his bullpen, bringing on right-hander Nick Wittgren to face Willson Contreras. His 1-1 pitch hit Contreras on the left hand, infuriating the batter for reasons unknown as the bases loaded. Cameron Maybin grabbed a bat to pinch-hit for Billy Hamilton, and in befuddling fashion, he too was hit, taking a changeup in on the left arm to force home Bryant with the winning run in the walk-off victory.
The Indians fell to 26-22 with their seventh loss in a row, including each of the first four games of their final road trip of the season. The Cubs moved to 29-20.
“He was trying to get a double play on the ground,” said Alomar Jr. after the game of Wittgren’s collapse. “Two hit batters to end the game, that’s kind of like the way it’s going for us right now. We fought back, hit that home run in the top of the ninth. Unfortunately we lost it in the bottom of the ninth. You’ve gotta keep grinding, going out there and keep fighting. Hopefully, we can break out of this tomorrow.”
The Cubs took an early lead against Carrasco in the second. He struck out the first two batters of the game and hit Rizzo with a pitch before a line out to right got him out of the first. He got Kyle Schwarber on a fly to center to open the home half of the second before Javier Baez put the Cubs on the board, blasting a 1-0 slider 450 feet just to the right of center to take the lead.
The Indians responded with a big inning against Darvish in the third. He retired the first five batters in order before giving up an eight-pitch single to Tyler Naquin with two outs, but struck out Roberto Perez with his third K of the game to strand a man. Naylor opened the third inning with a double to right. DeShields dropped down a bunt, but a throwing error by Bryant at third allowed Naylor to score and DeShields to take third on his infield single. Lindor’s big night started in his second trip to the dish as he doubled to left, knocking in DeShields easily to give the Tribe a 2-1 lead. An out back to the mound by Freeman moved Lindor to third and Ramirez launched a fly ball to right. Jason Heyward made the catch and fired a strike to the plate, nailing Lindor trying to tag and score to end the inning.
Carrasco got three straight groundouts in the third and Darvish stranded a man with two down in the fourth as Naquin’s single was followed by a groundout by Perez. The Indians’ veteran right-hander had to work out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth. Contreras singled to right. Schwarber struck out on three straight fastballs and Baez flied to center before Heyward drew a five-pitch walk to put two on. Former friend of the feather Jason Kipnis flied to left to strand a pair.
The Indians got another run from Lindor in the fifth. Naylor grounded out to second before DeShields doubled deep to left. Lindor singled to center to score the speedster, pushing the Indians lead to 3-1.
The Cubs rallied in a four-hit fifth to tie the game. Happ drove an 0-1 pitch to deep center. Attempting to make a catch before slamming into the ivy, DeShields short-armed it and missed it, allowing Happ to reach safely with a double. Bryant singled to left and advanced to second on an airmailed throw to the plate by Naylor, with Happ’s run making it a 3-2 game. Rizzo chased home Bryant with a double to center to tie the game at three. Contreras singled to right, but Carlos Santana cut Naquin’s throw to the plate with Rizzo hitting the brakes at third. Contreras, thinking the ball was going home, tried to advance to second but was cut down there for the second out. Schwarber was retired on a fly to right to leave the game tied with the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
For the fifth straight inning, the Indians got a hit against the tough Darvish and it was Naquin again coming through, doubling off the auxiliary scoreboard in left with two outs for his third hit in as many trips. Perez failed to get the runner in again, striking out swinging.
Carrasco, one inning after wiggling off of the hook, came back for a final inning of work in the bottom of the sixth. He struck out Baez and Heyward before Kipnis reached on an infield single. Carrasco got Victor Caratini to ground to first to end his night.
With a comfortable pitch count in his pocket, Darvish returned to the mound in the seventh for manager David Ross. After getting Naylor to line to right, DeShields got his third hit of the game with a double to right. Lindor was intentionally walked to set up force plays and that came through as Freeman grounded into a force at second, but he was able to leg it out at first to beat the return throw. With the inning still alive and runners on the corners, Ramirez lined to center.
The wildness of James Karinchak came back to cost him after the stretch in his only inning of work. Happ singled to center before he was caught stealing by Perez. Bryant drew a walk and moved to third on a single to right by Rizzo on a choked-up swing. Contreras flied deep enough to right to score Bryant on the sac fly, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead. Karinchak struck out Schwarber to stop the bleeding.
The Indians wasted a pair of base runners in the eighth. Rowan Wick walked Santana on four straight and threw a first pitch ball to Franmil Reyes before he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Naquin singled to right with his fourth hit of the night, but Alomar Jr. turned to his bench, sending in switch-hitter Sandy Leon for Perez. Leon struck out looking.
A bizarre play led to a big insurance run for the Cubs in the bottom of the eighth against Phil Maton. He hit Baez with a 2-2 curveball on the arm guard. On the payoff pitch to Heyward, the Cubs’ right fielder struck out swinging, but Baez was on the move. Leon’s throw to second sailed past Lindor and into center field. Baez had no intentions of stopping at third and motored to the plate. The relay throw was wide and Baez scored on the two-base error, extending the lead to 5-3. With the bases emptied, Maton got Kipnis on a fly to left before striking out Caratini.
The Indians rallied for their two in the ninth, but the club suffered yet another crushing defeat as they fell to six games in back of the Chicago White Sox for first place in the American League Central. The Minnesota Twins, which lost to the White Sox for the second straight night, hold a three-game advantage over the Indians.
Carrasco’s night was marred by one rough inning in the fifth. He worked six and could have gone back out in the seventh at just 86 pitches, but some tightness in his calf led to the team turning instead to the bullpen. He was charged with three runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out five in the no-decision.
“He was good. He battled. He fought out there,” said Alomar Jr. “We were going to take it one more inning out there, but he got a little tight in his calf so we didn’t want to take a chance.”
O. Perez was charged with the loss, responsible for several of the runners that were on base before Wittgren’s back-to-back bean balls.
Darvish’s stat sheet suffered its first real damage in his pursuit of the NL’s Cy Young Award. In one of his worst starts of the season, the 34-year-old lasted seven innings, but allowed three runs (tying a season-high) on nine hits (a new season-worst). He walked one batter and struck out seven in his ninth straight quality start. He had allowed just three hits combined over his previous two outings (a span of 13 innings).
Ten of the eleven Indians hits on the night came out of three lineup spots. Naquin went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double, but he did not score a run as the team’s six-hole hitter. Lindor went 3-for-4 with a single, a double, and his eighth home run. The leadoff man reached a fourth time via intentional walk. He scored one run and drove in four to give him 24 on the season. DeShields had a 3-for-4 day out of the nine-spot, scoring twice. Naylor doubled and walked, leading to a pair of runs scored for the newest Tribe outfielder.
The Cubs matched the Indians with eleven hits. Eight of those came out of the top four spots in the lineup. Bryant singled, walked twice, and scored three times while driving in one. Rizzo had three hits and an RBI. Contreras had two hits and an RBI. Happ had a single and a double and scored once. Baez homered, reached on hit by pitch, and scored a pair of runs. Kipnis had two hits but did not factor in the scoring.
In addition to the tightness in Carrasco’s calf, his battery mate R. Perez was dealing with some discomfort during the game.
“He’s alright. He has a little lat problem,” said Alomar Jr. of his starting catcher. “Same thing that’s been bothering him. Sometimes it gets tight. Today, it was getting tight after the throw to second base [on the caught stealing of Happ in the seventh]. He got a little bit of tightness. But then the report came in that he was fine afterwards.”
Cleveland also played without starting second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was placed on the paternity list prior to the game by the Indians. His roster spot was filled by Yu Chang, who was recalled from the team’s alternate training site in Lake County.
The Indians will look to salvage one win from the four-game season series with the Cubs in the finale from Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. The Cubs will send 15-year veteran southpaw Jon Lester (2-2, 5.05 ERA) to the mound to make his second start of the season against the Indians. Cleveland will counter with right-hander Aaron Civale (3-5, 3.88 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET.
Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images