CLEVELAND: Errors continued to rob the Indians of style points Friday night, but their mistakes paled compared to those of the Texas Rangers.
The Tribe blew a 7-1 lead before Ryan Raburn’s three-run homer in the 11th snapped an 8-8 tie to give the Indians an 11-8 victory at Progressive Field.
Jason Frasor finally succumbed in his third inning of relief. Asdrubal Cabrera led off the 11th by floating a single to left and Carlos Santana followed with a hit that put runners on first and second.
With the infield in, Raburn showed bunt for one pitch then picked on a 2-and-1 pitch and drove it over the wall in left for his 11th home run of the season.
The bunt sign was on for two pitches, but manager Terry Francona took it off after that.
“It was a good situation to swing,” he said. “The infielders were moving around and we were ahead in the count, so I thought we’d be better off [swinging].”
The change in strategy obviously didn’t hurt Raburn.
“Once they took it off, I was trying to get the run in or in the worst-case scenario get the runner to third,” he said.
Raburn does not play every day, but he has had several big hits this year.
“He’s a good hitter,” Francona said.
Raburn said this was the second walkoff homer of his career, the first coming as a pinch hitter for the Detroit Tigers.
The blunder tally looked like this:
Errors: three for the Rangers, two for the Tribe.
Wild pitches: three for the Rangers, one for the Tribe.
Base-running mistakes: one for the Rangers, none for the Tribe.
The Indians’ stretch of horrid defense continued: 11 errors and six unearned runs in the past seven games.
Corey Kluber was not at his best, but he had to work around errors by Santana and, oh yes, Kluber and still allowed only three earned runs (four total) in six innings.
Both Tribe errors occurred in the third inning, but only one run scored. Mitch Moreland led off with a walk, and Elvis Andrus slapped a bouncer to the mound. Kluber gloved the ball, turned, aimed and fired the ball into center field. So instead of a double play, Moreland ended up on third and Andrus reached first.
Leonys Martin followed with a fly to left. Michael Brantley went to the plate with his throw, but Moreland barreled into Santana, knocking the ball loose, making it a sacrifice fly. While Santana was chasing down the ball, Andrus took third.
Kluber gave up three more untainted runs, including two in the sixth that cut the Tribe lead to 7-4. He did not come out for the seventh, having allowed seven hits and one walk.
“Corey was pretty good,” Francona said. “He made a couple of mistakes, but that’s a good-hitting team. He’s become pretty reliable for us.”
Before the game, Francona talked about the importance of his team playing a “clean game,” something that has not happened lately. Even so, maybe the manager should have directed his remarks to the Rangers, who shot themselves in both feet.
The second inning belonged to starter Martin Perez. Not because he dominated Indians batsmen, but because he delivered wild pitches on consecutive deliveries that scored one run and put another on third, from where Michael Bourn’s groundout to the right side brought home the run.
In the fourth, the Tribe appeared to break the game open with four runs to go ahead 7-1. That rally got a boost from errors by right fielder Nelson Cruz and Andrus at short. Reliever Ross Wolf also delivered a wild pitch that had nothing to do with the scoring.
The Indians’ bullpen seemed bent on giving the Rangers a fightin’ chance. After Kluber left, Cody Allen took over in the seventh and gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning, permitting four hits and allowing a walk. The hits weren’t struck particularly hard, but they were clean singles.
“We took a circuitous route to get there [win],” Francona said. “We turned it over to Cody, and they were right back in it.”
If not for Engel Beltre’s poor judgment, who knows how long the seventh inning would have lasted? Beltre came to the plate with one out, one run home and a runner on second. He singled to left to score the second run but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. A walk and a single followed but no additional runs.
That rally cut the Tribe lead to 8-6, and Joe Smith yielded two more runs in the eighth to knot the score 8-8. The key hit in the inning was a two-run single by Ian Kinsler with two out.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.