Saturday, September 20, 2014

Game of the Day (9/19/14)

Twins 5, Indians 4 (10). Cleveland's Trevor Bauer and Minnesota's Phil Hughes are both former top pitching prospects who have been cut loose by their original organizations, but are making credible careers for themselves - Hughes is doing better in this respect, but has also had more time to work on it.

Both starters were perfect through the first two innings. In the third, Hughes allowed singles to JB Shuck and Roberto Perez, but struck out the next two hitters to strand them. Oswaldo Arcia then led off the bottom of the inning with a homer to put Minnesota in front. Cleveland replied in the fourth; David Murphy doubled with two outs, and Lonnie Chisenhall drove him in with a single, taking second on the throw home. Mike Aviles then singled to score Chisenhall with the go-ahead run, but Minnesota evened things in the bottom of the fourth when Kennys Vargas homered.

The starters exchanged flawless fifth innings, and the Indians edged ahead again in the sixth by way of a solo shot from Michael Brantley. Chisenhall singled and Aviles doubled later in the inning, but Shuck grounded out to leave them both in scoring position. Bauer retired the Twins in order again in the bottom of the sixth, and Cleveland padded its lead in the seventh when Perez led off with a double-and-error that put him on third and Michael Bourn scored him with a sacrifice fly.

Minnesota began its comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Joe Mauer and Vargas began the inning with singles, chasing Bauer in favor of Scott Atchison. Atchison struck out the next two Twins, and was then replaced by Marc Rzepczynski, who allowed an RBI single to Arcia. Zach McAllister took the mound and retired Aaron Hicks, stranding the tying run at third. Aaron Thompson worked a perfect top of the eighth; Bryan Shaw allowed a leadoff hit to Jordan Schafer, and Danny Santana hit into a force but then stole second. After a popup and an intentional walk of Mauer, Nick Hagadone relieved and retired Vargas to leave the tying run in scoring position.

Thompson combined with two other Twin pitchers on a scoreless ninth despite a Perez single and a wild pitch. Cody Allen entered for the save chance in the bottom of the inning and allowed a one-out Kurt Suzuki double, followed by an Arcia single that moved pinch runner Eduardo Nunez to third. Hicks then hit a perfect double play ball to short - and Jose Ramirez misplayed it, limiting the Indians to one out and allowing Nunez to come home with the tying run.

Brantley reached on an error in the top of the tenth and would eventually make it to second, but Brian Duensing and Jared Burton combined to strand him there. In the bottom of the inning, singles by Santana and Brian Dozier put Twins at the corners with nobody out, and Kyle Crockett then intentionally walked Mauer to load the bases. Vargas struck out, but Josh Tomlin then relieved and gave up a game-ending single to Trevor Plouffe.

Combined with their 13-inning victory in the previous game, this contest pushes the Indians from a virtual tie for first in the 2014 excitement standings into a commanding lead; with the season having seven-to-nine games remaining (depending on the team), the odds of the difference being made up are far from insurmountable, but they're not high either.

The Indians are, at present, 6.5 games back in the Central, and 4 shy of the second wild card. Had they been somewhat less exciting in a few carefully selected games throughout the year - such as this one, in which they blew a ninth-inning lead and then lost in extras - they might not be the most dramatic team of the year, but they might be going to the playoffs instead.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating: "Exciting," when describing a baseball team, is not an inherently complimentary term.

No comments:

Post a Comment