Amed Rosario had four hits and drove in all of the Indians runs on Wednesday, but it was the last one of each that proved most important as his bases-loaded RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning gave Cleveland a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Cleveland (20-14) continued its hot play on the diamond, winning for the third game in a row and for the eighth time in nine contests. It was not the prettiest of games and was aided by another poor offensive performance from the visiting Cubs, who left a small village of runners on the base paths against Indians rookie starter Sam Hentges and the six relievers who worked behind him.
The Cubs had runners on base in nine of ten innings on the day. That started early in the afternoon as Chicago put a pair on with one out against Hentges on a single to right by Willson Contreras and a walk by Anthony Rizzo, but Hentges punched out Javier Baez and David Bote swinging to strand a pair. That was to be a common theme of the day for the Cubbies.
The Indians, like their counterparts, had plenty of chances throughout the day. They had runners on base in each of the first six innings against Zach Davies, but were unable to score their first five attempts. Cesar Hernandez opened the home half of the first with a double and A. Rosario reached on an infield single to put two on, but Davies retired the next three in order, including a pair of key strikeouts of Eddie Rosario and Franmil Reyes to leave two men stranded.
Two more reached in a scoreless second for the Cubs. Ildemaro Vargas walked with one out and moved to second on a single by Joc Pederson. The next two were retired as Hentges worked out of the jam. Davies had an easier time, leaving Rene Rivera at first after his two-out walk.
Another two men reached against Hentges in the third, but for the third straight inning, he worked his way out of a mess. Contreras singled to center to open the inning and scooted to second on a wild pitch. Rizzo popped out and Baez struck out again before Bote worked a walk to keep the inning alive. Jason Heyward was unable to deliver with a runner in scoring position, striking out swinging to make it six men left over the first three frames.
For the first time on the day, Hentges faced the minimum in the fourth, but it still came after a runner reached base. Pederson singled the opposite way with one out, but was forced at second on the start of a two-out groundout by Eric Sogard. Hentges returned to the mound for the fifth and retired the first two batters before walking Sogard. He was relieved by Nick Sandlin, who struck out Baez swinging with his third K of the game.
Davies was the beneficiary of double plays in three straight innings. Jose Ramirez grounded into a 3-6-3 twin killer in the third to wipe out a one-out single by A. Rosario. Josh Naylor’s comebacker to the mound in the fourth erased Reyes’ one-out single on the 1-6-3 double play. Jake Bauers started the fifth with a walk, but Davies punched out Rivera and did the same to Andres Gimenez, while Contreras threw out Bauers attempting to steal on the strikeout pitch to the Tribe’s shortstop.
Things changed for both clubs in the sixth inning as base runners finally turned into runs scored. Sandlin got the first two batters in the sixth before Vargas doubled to right. Bryan Shaw took over for the Tribe, but he was unable to prevent the inherited runner from scoring as Pederson doubled to center to give Chicago the first run of the afternoon. Shaw left that runner stuck at second as Sogard grounded back to the mound to end the inning.
Cleveland responded quickly in the bottom half of the sixth, tying the score and knocking Davies out of the game. Hernandez doubled the first pitch of the inning deep to left. He scored on the very next pitch as A. Rosario notched his third hit of the day with an RBI-double to left, pushing Hernandez in with the tying run. Ramirez moved A. Rosario to third, bringing Cubs skipper David Ross out of the dugout for left-hander Justin Steele, who struck out the two batters that he challenged, Eddie Rosario and Naylor, around an intentional walk of Reyes.
Cal Quantrill took over for Shaw in the seventh and had to get himself out of a bases loaded jam. Contreras got his third hit of the day with a one-out single to center. Rizzo lined to short for the second out, but Baez singled to put runners on the corners and pinch-hitter Kris Bryant was hit on the hand to load the bases. With a chance to break the tie, Heyward failed as he flied to right to end the inning.
The Tribe was retired in order in the home half of the seventh, while Cleveland got its lone perfect inning on the mound in the top of the next frame in a good relief appearance from Nick Wittgren. Andrew Chafin shut the Indians lineup down in a quiet eighth.
Down to their last hopes in regulation, the Cubs threatened but again could not deliver. Cleveland manager Terry Francona went with his closer Emmanuel Clase for the ninth and he struck out Matt Duffy on a slider for the first out. Contreras singled for his fourth hit of the day and moved to second on a wild pitch before Rizzo was put on intentionally. Baez grounded to short, where Rizzo was forced for the second out. Nick Martini, hitting for the first time on the day after replacing Bryant, could not get the runner home as he grounded out to second.
Chafin made quick work of the Tribe for a second inning in a row, getting a pair of ground ball outs before striking out Naylor on four pitches to send the game to extras.
James Karinchak worked the tenth for Cleveland. He walked Heyward to put runners on first and second, but struck out Vargas on a bunt attempt, got Pederson to pop to short, and froze Sogard in an eight-pitch battle on a 2-2 curveball to send the game to the bottom of the tenth.
Keegan Thompson replaced Chafin for Chicago and walked Jordan Luplow in a long at bat. Rivera sacrificed both runners up 90 feet before pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Hernandez was unable to get the job done, popping up a cutter to short for the second out, but A. Rosario finished off his impressive day at the plate by sending a 1-1 pitch back into right field over a five-man infield to easily score Naylor with the winning run in a walk-off victory.
Karinchak earned his first win of the year with a scoreless inning of work in the tenth. He struck out a pair and walked one to help move the Indians to 20-14 on the year. Thompson dropped to 1-1 for Chicago, which is now 17-19 on the campaign.
Hentges made 84 pitches over four and two-thirds innings in his first Major League start. He did not allow a run, but gave up four hits and four walks while striking out six. While there was plenty of base traffic on his watch, he kept it all from touching home, something his bullpen mates were able to do all but one time the rest of the way behind him.
Davies left after five and one-third innings of work. He gave up a run on six hits, walking two and striking out four in the no-decision.
The story of the game was missed opportunities again, something plaguing Chicago of late. After going 1-for-12 in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Cleveland while stranding ten men on base, Chicago was just 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 15 men on base. Pederson was the only batter successful in that role, driving in the team’s lone run with one of his three hits. Contreras was 4-for-5 out of the two-hole.
The Indians bunched seven hits out of three players, with A. Rosario doing the heaviest lifting at the plate. He went 4-for-5 with three singles and a double while driving in both of the team’s runs on the day. Hernandez had a pair of hits in front of him in the lineup and scored once.
The getaway day start will prove beneficial for the Indians, as they make the long flight to Seattle after the game to start a seven-game West Coast trip against the Mariners on Thursday evening. Zach Plesac (2-3, 3.83 ERA) is expected to get the nod for the Tribe, while the M’s are expected to call up left-hander Logan Gilbert to make his Major League debut.
First pitch from T-Mobile Park is scheduled for 10:10 PM ET on Thursday night.
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