Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 5-3 win against the Oakland A’s Friday night.
1. The Indians took Friday night’s game with a four-run seventh inning that included some luck and some timely hitting.
2. The rally started with an error on A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, included a couple of key hits to cut the deficit to 3-2 and then a broken-bat single by Jason Kipnis that tied the game 3-3. Kipnis’ bat splintered, with most of it sailing toward right field while the ball found a small area of real estate in shallow left field that the A’s couldn’t cover. Then, a wild pitch gave the Indians a lead and Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3.
3. The Indians are now 58-42 and own the American League’s best record. More-so than last season, the club has seemed to be able to take a punch and strike back late in games. They now have 19 come-from-behind wins this season. Friday night was another example of turning a quiet night offensively into a game-deciding four-run rally.
4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “Sometimes when you’re making outs it may not look like you have in-game fight, but I agree, this group, you don’t get the feeling like you got punched in the stomach and it takes you two innings to get it back. I agree with that, I think they do a good job of continuing to play and play and play.”
5. Said Abraham Almonte, “With the team we have right now I think we can come back from anything. You can see the worst situation and then [snaps fingers], I think we can come back and do it.”
6. Almonte, pinch-hitting, came away with the run-scoring single that made it 3-2 and set up Kipnis’ broken-bat, game-tying single. It was a huge hit for a guy who has really struggled since being reinstated from a failed drug test and 80-game suspension.
7. Almonte is now hitting .200, and his last month has included two mental mistakes that cost the Indians in their pre-break series against the New York Yankees. He’s been the fifth outfielder (including Jose Ramirez), but he had one of the biggest hits of the night when the Indians needed it most.
8. Said Almonte, “It feels great. It was a big situation for the club. I was able to get a hit and keep things rolling there in a good way. Always feel excited to help the team win.”
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9. Trevor Bauer threw 5 2/3 innings, gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out four. He was solid through five innings, allowing only one run after an error on Mike Napoli. But, to start the sixth, Josh Reddick and Khris Davis hit back-to-back home runs, making it 3-0. That was followed with a strikeout, a walk and a single, and Bauer’s day was done.
10. Bauer hasn’t been as sharp in July, owning a 5.19 ERA. He held a 2.01 ERA in June. Friday night was a strong start until the back-to-back home runs, which were reminiscent of his issues last season.
11. Said Francona, “I thought Trevor was throwing the ball good. He had the unearned run early and then he had the back-to-back home runs. I was trying to stay with him, but after that you got walk-hit and he’s up over 100. The way Graveman was throwing, it seemed like we better try to hold it right there.”
12. The Indians brought in Dan Otero, who worked out of the jam, as he’s done all season. Otero has pretty much been the Indians’ secret weapon in the bullpen. He holds a 1.31 ERA and has had a season reminiscent of Jeff Manship from last year. Lately, he’s been called into several high-leverage situations and done well.
13. Said closer Cody Allen, who notched his 20th save, on Otero, “He's given us a lot. He can pitch anywhere. That's the thing. He can give you multiple innings. He can come in and get righties out. He can get lefties out. A guy like that is key to having a good bullpen. Without him this year, we'd kind of be stuck a little bit, because we haven't gotten a lot of innings out of lefties. But, Dan can sink the ball and cut the ball. He does a lot of things. He's been huge for us.”
14. Two interesting notes courtesy of the Indians from Friday night: 1. Carlos Santana hit his 22nd home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth that made it 3-1. He now has 139 home runs with the Indians, which ties him with Grady Sizemore for 13th in franchise history. 2. Rajai Davis stole his 25th base of the season Friday night. At 35 years old, Davis is the oldest Indians player to steal 25 bases in a year since Nap Lajoie did it in 1910.
In baseball, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little lucky in the middle of a rally.
The ball bounced the Indians’ way a couple times in a seventh-inning rally and, combined with some timely hits, it propelled them to a 5-3 win against the Oakland A’s Friday night.
The Indians entered the seventh trailing 3-1, heading toward another quiet offensive night after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. Then, an opportunity.
Facing A’s starter Kendall Graveman, Rajai Davis reached base thanks to an error on shortstop Marcus Semien with one out in the inning. Tyler Naquin followed with a single and Abraham Almonte, who’s struggled since being reinstated, singled home a run to make it 3-2 and put runners on the corners.
The A’s (47-56) called on left-hander and former Indians reliever Marc Rzepcsynski to face Carlos Santana, who drew a walk to load the bases.
Then, on a pivotal pitch, Jason Kipnis’ bat splintered. As most of the bat sailed toward right field, the ball found the little ground in shallow left field that the A’s couldn’t cover, falling for a game-tying single.
Ryan Dull relieved Rzepczynski, though he threw an errant pitch in the dirt that trickled away from catcher Stephen Vogt, allowing Almonte to score and give the Indians a 4-3 lead. Francisco Lindor followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, deep enough to score Santana from third.
Now operating with a lead, Bryan Shaw worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Cody Allen notched save No. 20 in the ninth, though it came with a close call as Josh Reddick, with two runners on and two out, hit a ball to the wall in center field.
It was enough to support starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who threw 5 1/3 innings, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and struck out four. Bauer kept the A’s at a 1-0 advantage until the sixth inning, when Josh Reddick and Khris Davis hit back-to-back home runs. It was reminiscent of Bauer’s struggles last year, much of which were driven by home runs.
Dan Otero worked out of a sixth-inning jam to keep it a 3-0 score and Cody Anderson threw a scoreless inning in relief, his first action in a week.
It took time Friday night for the Indians’ offense to find a rhythm. They were held scoreless until Carlos Santana belted a solo home run to right field, his 22nd of the season, which tied Mike Napoli for the team lead.
The Indians (58-42), 6-6 since the All-Star break, maintain their hold on the best record in the American League.
The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.
McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. This season he has a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.
"[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”
Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled as of late, allowing five earned runs in his last 2 2/3 innings pitched.
For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn't show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.
“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [are bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”
Rumor mill spinning
The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached among any of their reported trade targets.
A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.
It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.
Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.960 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.
Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.
Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline is drawing near, and the Indians are still looking to address some of their needs on the major-league roster.
Here’s a rundown of where they stand.
The Indians continue to be linked to Milwaukee Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who would offer a significant upgrade to the lineup. He’s hitting .300 this season with a .361 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI. Per FanGraphs, he’s given the Brewers 2.8 WAR this season, third among major-league catchers.
Indians catchers, meanwhile, have all struggled offensively and Yan Gomes recently landed on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. Together, they’ve combined for -1.1 WAR, the worst mark in baseball, and have been an anchor at the bottom of the lineup, all hitting below or around .200 with little power.
Lucroy is making $4 million this season and has a $5.25 million club option for next season. He’d give the Indians an upgrade at catcher this season and could potentially move to first base next year with Gomes and Perez under club control for the foreseeable future.
The Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets have all been connected to Lucroy as well, who appears to be among the more available players in the league if a team will meet the Brewers’ demands.
In the Indians’ case, they could also be seeking to acquire one of Milwaukee’s relief pitchers, namely left-hander Will Smith, in a deal highlighted by Lucroy. Smith is under club control through the 2019 season. The question will be the Brewers’ asking price, especially with the market for Lucroy heating up.
Per various reports, the Indians have also been linked to Tampa Bay’s Steve Pearce and Cincinnati All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce.
Pearce, who primarily plays the corner outfield spots and first base, crushes left-handed pitching and owns a 1.212 OPS against lefties this season. Pearce would give the Indians more balance in the outfield against left-handed pitchers with left-handed hitters Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin on the roster. The price tag on Pearce might not be as high as other Indians’ targets, as he’ll be a free agent after this season.
Bruce would give the Indians another left-handed hitter in the outfield, though he’s had an outstanding season at the plate, slugging 25 home runs and driving in 79 runs this season. Bruce has a club option for the 2017 season.
The Indians were also tied to closer Aroldis Chapman, outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. and infielder Eduardo Nunez, though they have all since been dealt.
Teams could be targeting one of the Indians’ top prospects, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, who were recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians also have a surplus of starting pitching prospects, including Brady Aiken, Justus Sheffield, Triston McKenzie and others.
The question, as always this time of year, is finding a match in value. Though this year, the Indians have plenty of reasons to be buyers as one of the American League’s top contenders.
For the second straight season, the Indians have one of the top contenders to be named American League Rookie of the Year. Though this year, it’s coming from an unlikely spot.
That’d be outfielder Tyler Naquin, who has been among the better hitters in the American League since being called up June 1, his third stint in the majors this season. To date, he’s hitting .330 with 12 home runs, 12 doubles and 32 RBI. He’s also fourth in the AL with 25 extra-base hits since June 3.
Last season, Francisco Lindor finished as the runner-up to Houston shortstop Carlos Correa. Lindor was a natural fit as the Indians’ No. 1 prospect who finally made his long-awaited debut. Naquin, in contrast, has forced his way into the discussion and the Indians lineup, which has routinely featured Jose Ramirez, Rajai Davis and Lonnie Chisenhall in the outfield.
He’s had to fight for his time.
“It kind of comes back to that [phrase] I’ve used with him: Survival instincts,” Francona said. “I know he’s got some talent, but he just kind of competes like crazy. He may take an awkward swing, but you get one he can reach, he doesn’t just hit it now, he’s been riffling it somewhere. It’s been really fun to watch.”
He found a way to impact Tuesday night’s game, even though he didn’t start. As a pinch-hitter, Naquin roped a double to left-center that made it 6-5 and eventually led to the Indians’ 7-6 walk-off win against the Washington Nationals. The Indians have appreciated Naquin’s production as well as his attentiveness late in games.
“Sometimes, with youth comes enthusiasm, which is good, but also can come somebody sitting down at the end of the bench eating seeds, kind of like a spring training game. And then you surprise them during the game. Nake’s always ready, which is good. That’s never an issue. This kid wants to play. I think during the game, he’s hoping something happens so he can get in.”
Naquin has picked up some in-game habits from Chisenhall, who is adept in entering a game late if the opposing team starts a left-hander and also had an RBI-hit in Tuesday’s win.
“From the very get-go, Lonnie told me just kind of a time frame,” Naquin said. “During the game, go down there [to the cage] and get your swings in. Always be ready though. He does an unbelievable job and [Tuesday] it showed for him.”
Home sweet home
The Indians this week kicked off a 20-in-25 games stretch that will be played at Progressive Field. After returning from the All-Star break with an extended road trip, they’ll now enjoy the other half of an unbalanced schedule due to the Republican National Convention.
“Huge. It’s huge,” said Francisco Lindor. “We’ve been on the road for a while. It’s nice to be home with our families, get that little off day and be in this clubhouse. It changes everything a little bit. The fans [Tuesday], they were a little quiet at first but it got loud as the game went on. That’s what we play for. For them.”
Indians manager Terry Francona often talks about the simple advantage of being able to hit last. While it’s a small advantage, it’s also better than the alternative. For many of the players, being able to be home for an extended period of time has its own advantages on and off the field. For the next three-plus weeks, the Indians will get to nearly play exclusively at home. For a team trying to hold onto a division lead, it’s an ideal setup.
“There's nothing better than being home,” said Chris Gimenez. “We kind of had a rough month of being on some 10-day road trips, a West Coast swing, stuff like that. It grinds on you. It absolutely grinds on you. There's nothing better than being home, where everything is comfortable. You have your home fans, a huge support system here. You can kind of get on that schedule, I think is the most important. That routine.”
Indians manager Terry Francona often says momentum in baseball is only up to the next day’s opposing starting pitcher. And on Wednesday, the Indians faced a brick wall in the form of Stephen Strasburg and fell to the Washington Nationals 4-1.
The Indians won in walk-off fashion Tuesday night in their return to Progressive Field, a needed jolt after losing three straight at the end of an extended road trip. But that momentum was halted against Strasburg, who threw seven scoreless innings, allowed only three hits and struck out seven.
“He has a lot of weapons,” Francona said of Strasburg (14-1, 2.68 ERA). “He can throw the ball by you, a fastball on both sides of the plate. He has a slider, change. He’s got everything and his fastball has a ton of ride, or finish. … It’s impressive.”
The Indians (57-42) managed to make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Erik Gonzalez walked and Rajai Davis singled, setting up Tyler Naquin, who hit a one-out RBI-single up the middle to make it 4-1 and bring the tying run to the plate. That was Roberto Perez, who couldn’t bring magic to Progressive Field for the second straight night. Facing Blake Treinen, Perez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.45 ERA) allowed three runs in six innings and struck out five. His trouble inning was the second, in which a couple of walks and a missed double play put the Nationals up 2-0.
After Carrasco walked the first two batters in the inning, Ryan Zimmerman grounded a ball to Francisco Lindor. Lindor threw to second for the first out, but Kipnis dropped the exchange. Carrasco recored the second out of the inning but with the extra life, Trea Turner singled to left field to score two.
Carrasco momentarily lost his command a bit. He nearly pitched out of it, but Turner’s two-run single turned out to be the difference with Strasburg in rhythm.
“Kind of lost my control,” Carrasco said. “Not too much damage, only two runs, thought it was going to be more, but I held them to two. I thought that I lost my control a little bit. That’s not good.”
The Nationals tacked on insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Daniel Murphy belted his 20th home run of the season against Carrasco and an inning later, Turner doubled home a run against Dan Otero to make it 4-0.
The Indians moved to 5-6 since the All-Star break and have a day off on Thursday.
Here are 23 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians defeated the Nationals 7-6 Tuesday night in walk-off fashion.
1. The Indians notched their fifth walk-off win of the season. This one snapped a three-game losing streak, came against a first-place Nationals team and erased three two-run deficits. In a long season, there probably isn’t such a thing as a “biggest win,” but this was certainly one of the more impressive for the 57-41 Indians.
2. Breaking down the final rally, the Indians entered the ninth trailing 6-4 and facing Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon.
3. It began with Jose Ramirez drawing a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Tyler Naquin, who’s continuing to build a strong American League Rookie of the year case, then came up with the hardest hit of the inning, a pinch-hit, run-scoring double to left-center field. All of a sudden, the Indians have the tying run on second base with nobody out.
4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “That obviously really changed the game. We’re trying to extend the inning any way we can, maybe get the tying run to second or something. It looked like he hit a split and he stayed on it. That really changed everything. Now all of a sudden they’ve got to play the infield in. All kinds of things get turned around. G got a bunt down. Because he got it down, sometimes good things happen.”
5. Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall each had key hits—Chisenhall singled home a run in the 7th—after the Nationals went with right-handers to follow lefty starter Gio Gonzalez. The rookie is still learning, and it came in handy Tuesday night.
6. Said Naquin, on pinch-hitting, “From the very get go Lonnie told me just kind of a time frame. During that game, go down there and get your swings in. Always be ready though. He does an unbelievable job and tonight it showed for him.”
7. With the tying run on second and nobody out, the Indians turned their attention to small-ball and tying the game. Chris Gimenez laid down a bunt, except first basemen Ryan Zimmerman threw the ball into right field, tying it 6-6.
8. Said Gimenez, “That turned to gold. That worked out perfect. I sat there and I knew obviously the situation being what it was. Once Naquin hit the ball in the gap, I'm going to bunt. After I made sure Jose was safe at home, I just looked in at Tito and he gave me the bunt sign. And Sarby called me over and I'm like I got it, I got it. I know what I'm doing. I've been around a little while. I know the situation. At that point, I knew they weren't running the wheel play, because I could see out of the corner of my eye. So, it was just get a bunt down wherever it went. The first pitch was a slider down. Easy take. he tried to throw me a fastball up and away, hoping I'd kind of pop it up. I just thought it wasn't high enough that I couldn't go get it. Just nice and easy, bunt it to first base. It turns out that he's had some minor issues I think in the past with making a throw and stuff like that. Thankfully, for us today, it worked out. He made the throw wide and I was able to go to second base, and ended up being the winning run.”
9. With Gimenez being able to advance to second on the error, the Indians are still trying to move him to third, only now it’s the winning run. Rajai Davis squared around to bunt, except when the Nationals infield charged in, Davis “slashed” it over them for an infield single. It was a brilliant play.
10. Said Davis, “I was taught to, when that happens, you slash. You try to keep it in the middle of the field. So, in the ninth, that was my first opportunity to actually do that in a game. … I was taught in the minor leagues that that's what you do. When everybody's crashing, you slash. That's what the pitchers work on. I think that's the perfect opportunity to do it.”
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11. Francona half-jokingly said he wasn’t sure if Davis meant to bunt it that hard. But either way, there is a reason that putting the ball in play and forcing the defense to make plays has some value.
12. Said Francona, “I’d like to say yeah, I’m going to doubt it. They were so aggressive on that play that, again, I don’t know if he tried that or not. They had no play because they were so aggressive. That’s one where, being that aggressive, you’d almost like him to pull back and hit because there’s no way we can get G to third on that. They were so aggressive. But when you’re that aggressive, put the ball in play, sometimes some good things can happen.”
13. That opened the door for Francisco Lindor, facing Oliver Perez, to fight off a high-and-tight pitch for the game-winning hit to right field, completing the comeback.
14. It was the fifth Indians walk-off win this season—all since June 1—and the first for Lindor.
15. Said Lindor, “I was just trying to put the ball in play, do something, pick a zone where I wanted to hit it, what pitch I wanted to hit. I got it. I got the barrel to it and I went it through. A lot of emotions running to first base.”
16. A simple, fundamental thing that Francona often talks about when asked about the advantages of playing at home is that you get to bat last. It allows you a clearer picture of your situation. It isn’t really a significant advantage, but sure, it’s better than the alternative.
17. And Tuesday night, it also showed that sometimes putting the ball in play can make things happen. Said Francona, “Yeah. I know this going to be a shocking announcement, that’s not how we drew it up. There were so many things that happened in that game that were kind of peculiar that, again, hitting last sure helps. My goodness, there were a lot of balls going every which way.”
18. The Indians had an extended road trip to accommodate the Republican National Convention. Now, they get to enjoy a 20-in-25-game home stretch. Tuesday night was a pretty solid start.
19. Said Gimenez, “Absolutely. There's nothing better than being home. We kind of had a rough month of being on some 10-day road trips. A West coast swing. Stuff like that. It grinds on you. It absolutely grinds on you. There's nothing better than being home, where everything is comfortable. You have your home fans, a huge support system here. You can kind of get on that schedule, I think is the most important. That routine. That's really big for baseball players is getting on and staying on a routine.”
20. This game was also an example of Francona using his bench. Gimenez, Chisenhall and Naquin entered the game late and all had significant impacts.
21. Said Lindor, “Huge. It gives us a little more confidence. We trust in ourselves. We trust in the team have. But the guys, Gimenez wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Naquin wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Chisenhall wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Overall guys aren’t playing, but they were in the game. They helped us. Naquin is doing an unbelievable job day in and day out. He’s working as hard as he can. One of the reasons we won is because of him.”
22. Dan Otero also tossed two scoreless innings, which was enough for the Indians to get to Austin Adams and then Bryan Shaw, who picked up the win. Otero was key for the Indians to have a chance after Danny Salazar was roughed up and lasted only four innings, the first time he hadn’t at least finished five since May 22 against Boston.
23. Otero has quietly been one of the Indians’ best offseason pick-ups, saying, “Our starters have picked us up all year. Anytime they don't have their best stuff or can't get through 7-8 innings like they usually do, it's nice to go in there and help the team out and keep the other team at bay and let the offense do their job.”
The Indians went on an extended road trip following the All-Star break due to the Republican National Convention. But nothing does the soul good like some home cooking.
In their first game back in Cleveland, the Indians worked some Progressive Field magic to pull off a wild comeback win in walk-off fashion against the Washington Nationals 7-6.
The Indians entered the ninth inning trailing 6-4 and facing Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon. Jose Ramirez opened with a walk and Tyler Naquin continued his torrid rookie season with a double to left-center that made it 6-5.
Chris Gimenez laid down a sacrifice bunt, except Ryan Zimmerman threw it into right field, tying it 6-6, still with nobody out. Rajai Davis laid down a bunt as well, though he looped it past the charging Nationals infield for a single, putting runners on the corners.
Facing Oliver Perez with one out, Francisco Lindor completed the comeback with a game-winning single to right field, his third hit of the night.
It all was enough to overcome three errors and one of Danny Salazar’s poorer outings this season.
It was a rough outing for Salazar, who lasted only four innings plus one batter, gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits and stuck out five. It was his shortest outing of the season and the first time since May 22 against Boston that he failed to throw at least five innings.
Uribe’s error in the first inning didn’t help matters. With a runner on third in the top of the first inning, Uribe couldn’t handle a ground ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy, allowing Trea Turner to score and put the Nationals up 1-0. Later with two outs instead of three, Jayson Werth doubled to center field to score Murphy from first.
The Indians answered in the bottom of the first with a two-run inning of their own against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. Davis came around to score on a passed ball after he walked to open the inning and Carlos Santana tied it 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Jason Kipnis.
After Wilson Ramos opened the fourth inning with a double, Anthony Rendon took a Salazar offering and crushed it to the bleacher seats in left-center field, giving the Nationals their second two-run lead of the night. An inning later, Ramos added a solo home run against Jeff Manship.
Against the Nationals’ bullpen, the Indians began to chip away. In the seventh, the Indians cut the Nationals’ deficit to 5-3 after Abraham Almonte doubled and, with reliever Blake Treinen on the mound, Lonnie Chisenhall singled him home. Davis followed, though, with an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
In the eighth, Kipnis doubled and Lindor singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Mike Napoli worked to a full count against Nationals reliever Felipe Rivero but grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. It scored a run, making it 5-4, but also cleared the bases.
But, the same problems that plagued the Indians in the first inning came back to hurt them again in the ninth. Trying to hold the Nationals a one-run lead, Uribe committed his second error of the day. After Bryan Shaw hit Danny Espinosa and gave up a single to Ben Revere, the Nationals had the bases loaded with one out. Turner ripped a line drive to Napoli that was nearly an inning-ending double play. Instead, Napoli couldn’t wrangle it, was charged with an error and allowed the Nationals to push their lead to 6-4.
But it was all rendered moot with the wild walk-off ninth inning. For the Indians, it’s good to be home.
At this point, Bill Murray might end up playing left field for the Indians.
Rehabbing outfielder Michael Brantley spoke again on Tuesday, saying he’s frustrated by the process but still hopeful he can take the necessary steps to return to the lineup.
It’s the Indians’ own version of Groundhog Day. Though, rather than the charming 1993 flick starring Murray, it’s the delayed return of a key piece to the Indians’ lineup and a potentially significant boost to their postseason chances.
Brantley has tried to ramp up his hitting activities three times, only to be repeatedly shut down. Last week, Brantley underwent an outpatient procedure to remove scar tissue in his surgically-repaired shoulder. He’s also missed all but 11 games this season and has received two anti-inflammatory shots and multiple opinions.
Brantley has again resumed hitting activities after resting for a couple days following the outpatient procedure. But after several setbacks, the Indians are still waiting for him to be able to return and then stay in the lineup for longer than a week or so.
“It’s very tough, especially when you’ve had a couple setbacks and you think you have it figured out and you kind of get a little different twist,” Brantley said. “I’m just going to keep working hard and keep pushing to get back and taking the necessary steps that I need to take.”
Brantley added he’s “very confident” he can still make a significant impact on the 2016 Indians, though there remains only about two months left in the regular season.
“I know the players, the staff, the upper management, they all believe in me that I can come back and contribute in a positive way. I do as well,” Brantley said. “I'm taking every necessary step behind closed doors, stuff that people don't see, tracking balls, getting my mechanics down, doing any drills I can that are non taxing to make sure that my body is ready to go once I come back.”
He reiterated he doesn’t feel he or the club rushed his return. Once he felt good enough to return, he did, though he didn’t respond in the way he hoped. In the past couple weeks, he hasn’t been able to play back-to-back days, a key milestone in his recovery.
“I listened to my body. I felt good. I said it last time. I was feeling great,” Brantley said. “Some things come up. It's very frustrating at times, but at the same time, you have to take what the cards give you. It's a setback, yes, but it's only going to make me stronger as a baseball player and stronger as a person. And just being a better teammate from the dugout and looking in."
So Brantley will continue to try to work back to where his shoulder can withstand the extended volume. And the Indians will wait to hear some new feedback beyond the kind that’s made for a frustrating season for one of the better left fielders in baseball.
The Indians’ top two prospects have been roaming the outfield together in Double-A Akron this season. Now, they’re each headed down I-71 to Columbus.
The Indians on Sunday promoted Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier to Triple-A, putting them one step closer to their major-league debuts. Zimmer and Frazier are the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked prospects in the Indians’ organization, respectively, according to Baseball America and other scouting services.
Zimmer this season is hitting .252 with a .370 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 20 doubles, six triples, 31 stolen bases and 53 RBI. He struggled for much of the season until he worked with RubberDucks hitting coach Tim Laker on narrowing his stance. He also loosened his hands and with those changes found quick results. In July, Zimmer hit .324 with a .418 on-base percentage, two home runs, four doubles, four stolen bases and nine RBI.
Frazier has had a more consistent season in his first year at the Double-A level, hitting .278 with a .357 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 25 doubles, 48 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He’s also been working in left field to allow him to play either corner outfield position.
Zimmer and Frazier have each had their names floated in trade rumors as the Indians look to add a relief pitcher and possibly a bat prior to the non-waiver trade deadline on Aug. 1. For now, their trip through the minor leagues continues in Columbus.