Tribe’s Wild Comeback Capped by Game-Winning Throwing Error; CLE 5, SEA 4
Bob Toth | On 12, Jun 2021
Trailing three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Cleveland Indians tied the game to force extra frames, then loaded the bases before an improbable throwing error allowing the game-winning run to cross the plate in a 5-4 come-from-behind victory on Saturday afternoon over the Seattle Mariners.
The game featured plenty of unwatchable moments, but Indians fans that gutted out the messy action through the first seven innings got a show to watch in the final three innings as the Tribe rallied back from a four-run hole, using a long ball in the eighth and a two-out rally by the bottom of the order in the ninth before an ending most could not have scripted.
Yusei Kikuchi, despite some difficulties finding the strike zone throughout the day, completed seven scoreless frames, walking three batters and allowing three hits, only one of which exited the infield. He used a double play ball to escape the first inning and stranded a pair of runners in the second and third innings before settling in to retire ten of the final eleven batters that he faced. With his quality effort in the books, Scott Servais turned to his bullpen for recently activated Kendall Graveman. He retired Rene Rivera on a groundout to short, but Cesar Hernandez was rewarded for his patience at the plate, slugging a payoff pitch over the center field wall in front of the bullpens to get the Tribe on the board, 4-1. Amed Rosario followed with a single before being erased on a double play.
Sam Hentges, the seventh Tribe pitcher on the day, returned to the mound for a second inning of work in the top of the ninth. He allowed a single to Mitch Haniger before striking out the next three in order in a four-strikeout effort.
Down to their final three outs, Cleveland quickly found its back against the wall. Rafael Montero got Harold Ramirez and Eddie Rosario to ground out for two quick outs. Bradley Zimmer, pinch-hitting for Yu Chang, worked a seven-pitch walk, and Josh Naylor walked on five to bring the tying run to the plate in another pinch-hitter, Bobby Bradley. He swung on a 2-1 fastball in on the hands and snapped his bat, but the ball found its way into medium right field between the second baseman and a deep Haniger for a base hit, scoring Zimmer from second to make it a 4-2 game. Rivera stepped in with a chance to play hero and launched an 0-2 pitch deep to left, halfway up the 19 foot wall for a game-tying, two-out, two-run two-base hit to tie the game at four. Hernandez had a chance to end it, lining hard to left, but a nice running catch by Jake Fraley sent the game to extra innings.
James Karinchak stranded the go-ahead run at third in the tenth. Dylan Moore struck out before former Tribe member Jake Bauers moved the free runner Fraley to third with a groundout to short. Tom Murphy was punched out looking at a hook for the fourth time to send the game to the bottom of the tenth.
Cleveland needed just four pitches to kick off an on-field celebration. With Paul Sewald on the mound in relief for Seattle, A. Rosario dropped in a single to right-center on an 0-2 pitch. Hernandez, who started the inning at second, got a bad read and had to hold up at third base. Jose Ramirez was intentionally walked, loading the bases for H. Ramirez. He swung at a pitch in on his hands and grounded weakly back to Sewald, but his throw to Murphy at the plate was high and to his catcher’s left, pulling him away from the dish to make the catch. Hernandez scored with a good slide before Murphy could get back to him or the plate to send the Tribe home with a shocking 5-4 victory.
Seattle got on the board in an ugly first inning by Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie. Eleven of his first 12 pitches missed the zone as he walked J.P. Crawford and Haniger and fell behind Kyle Seager before he popped out to third. Ty France, who had two hits on the day, flied to center for the second out, but McKenzie walked Fraley in a ten-pitch at bat to load the bases. He gave up a four-pitch free pass to Moore to force in the game’s first run and got a quick hook from manager Terry Francona. Phil Maton took over and struck out Bauers to leave the bags full.
Fraley came through with a big swing in the third to open the game up. France singled with one out and Fraley launched a homer to right to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. Moore added another run in the top of the seventh, getting his second hit of the game when he blasted a 427 foot homer to left-center to make it a 4-0 contest at the time.
The Indians improved to 34-27 on the year and 16-12 at home. Karinchak earned the win to move to 3-2 on the year. The Mariners dropped to 31-35, with Montero suffering his sixth blown save of the season and Sewald taking his second loss.
The Indians organization announced during the game that former Cleveland pitcher and broadcaster Mudcat Grant had passed away at the age of 85.
Photo: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images