When Michael Bourn raced around the bases moments after his two-run home run handed the Indians a 6-4 walk-off victory over the Colorado Rockies Sunday at Progressive Field, it was obvious it wasn’t something the speedy center fielder was used to doing.
Instead of displaying baseball’s typical casual home run trot, Bourn ran around the diamond on his first career walk-off homer as if he were being chased. Even when he reached home plate, he continued to move the pile of bodies made up of his giddy teammates who mobbed him in celebration.
With Sunday’s win, the Indians increased their American League leading home record to 18-11 and improved to 16-1 at Progressive Field this season when scoring four or more runs.
Just like the Tribe did in its previous home stand by taming the American League Central-division leading Detroit Tigers, the Indians used solid all-round pitching and an emerging offense to corral the Rockies in an Interleague series that pitted the A.L.’s top strikeout pitching staff against the National League’s explosive offense with the least strikeouts.
Once again Sunday, the Indians won that battle - despite facing a Rockies lineup that boasted six batters hitting .300 or better.
It helped the Tribe to build a three-run cushion in the first inning when Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin struggled to settle in and find his location. The right-hander walked the first two Tribe batters and didn’t emerge from the inning until he’d issued three free passes – including one that walked home a run. However, Chacin also had to work around his throwing error and a mental error on catcher Jordan Pacheo as the Tribe cashed in on the mistakes by taking an early 3-0 lead.
But the Rockies offense helped keep Chacin in the game with some early run support that cut the Tribe’s lead to a run in the second inning. A fielding error on Indians third baseman Mike Aviles put lead off man Justin Morneau on base and Corey Dickerson followed with a 400-foot home run to right field that made the score 3-2.
The Rockies pulled even at 3-3 briefly in the top of the third inning on a Morneau RBI ground out that was aided by a Bourn mental error that allowed Michael Cuddyer to move into scoring position and score easily on the ground ball. But the Indians got the run back and went head by a run in the bottom of the inning on a Lonnie Chisenhall sacrifice fly.
After three scoreless innings between the two clubs, the Rockies fought back in the seventh inning against the Indians bullpen just like they did in Saturday’s game. Tribe right-hander Bryan Shaw allowed a lead off double to Brandon Barnes. A sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly later, Barnes scored to tie the game, 4-4.
Indians veteran right-handed reliver Scott Atchison struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning, stranding D.J. LeMahieu at second base after his two-out double to keep the score tied, giving the Indians offense mometum heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Tribe started the inning with the thought of following Saturday’s small-ball themed victory when Aviles led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on George Kottaras’ sacrifce bunt. But Bourn made the potential run at second a moot point when he blasted a fastball from Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino into the stands for the fourth walk-off win of the season.