Here are 17 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
1. In the Indians’ season-opening series against the Texas Rangers, Francisco Lindor committed a costly error that had him visibly frustrated. He took out that frustration be crushing a solo home run and then, later, belting a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth.
2. Lindor’s defensive mistakes are few-and-far-between. The highlight-reel, diving stops heavily outweigh the mishaps, and he earned a Platinum Glove for his play last season. It makes it that much more of a sight when Lindor does mishandle a ball.
3. That happened again Friday night, only this time, there was no completely-redeem-yourself grand slam later in the night. With a runner on first, Lindor went to back-hand a routine ground ball but missed it. Instead of there being two outs in the eighth with nobody on, there were no outs and runners on the corners. Even Andrew Miller wasn’t able to escape the inning with the score still deadlocked at 4-4.
4. Indians manager Terry Francona on the play: “I think he committed to the backhand and when it’s over and look back, he probably could’ve got around it. It’s happening quick, then he went to the backhand and it didn’t come up as high as he thought. It ends up being a really big play, obviously. … Again, sometimes because he’s been so good, we forget that he’s still young. But yeah, I think that’s probably what he was thinking.”
5. Lindor, who earlier had an RBI-single, took complete responsibility for the loss, saying, "I tried to backhand the ball. I tried to rush to make the double play. I know Hosmer, he runs well. It is on me, man. Today's loss is on me. I messed up. The pitchers, they did a great job today as usual. The offense did a great job as well. Today is on me. I know it is not my first time, and it won't be my last. But stuff like that can't happen.”
6. Lindor was, like he was in Texas, visibly frustrated. After the go-ahead runs scored, he screamed into his glove after relaying the ball to the infield.
7. Lindor: "I could've stayed back and just got one out. But I missed the ball, so I should have done that. But I play without a fear of making a mistake. You try to go out there, and not try to make a mistake, not try to make an error. But I did. It was a tough one today. We will bounce back tomorrow, but it'll be tough to drive home tonight."
8. The loss dropped the Indians to 24-22 this season. They have continued to tread water through April and now May. The starting rotation has been banged up and not quite itself, the offense went through a pretty severe slump in the beginning of May and the outfield has been a revolving door to the disabled list. Through it all, the Indians have managed that 24-22 record. It can be taken a couple of ways—that they’re stuck around the .500 mark, or that they’ve stayed above .500 while finding their footing.
9. The Indians might be benefitting from playing in the 2017 American League Central. The Twins lead the division at 25-19 as of this typing. They’re a team many have viewed as probably still a year or two away from really contending, though they’ve been a nice surprise and one of the bigger ones in baseball thus far. The Indians at 2-games back with the calendar still shy of June 1 are still considered pretty heavy favorites against the Twins. Then there’s the Tigers and Royals, who sit at 22-24 and 20-27, respectively, and could each be on the precipice of pretty major fire sales at the trade deadline. The Chicago White Sox acted as the go-team team for major-league talent this past offseason. The Tigers and Royals could fill much of the league’s trade needs in July.
10. The Indians have not yet found that extra gear that they had last June, when the 14-game winning streak propelled them to the front of the division. But they’ve also hung around and don’t appear to be in a bad spot as of May 26.
11. Lindor: "We are getting to a point in the season where we have to get it going a little bit. I know it is part of the game. I know we are not going to win every game, but we are not going to lose every game either. It is just a matter of making sure we do things the right way. The guys are. We are doing it the right way. They make a mistake, then we capitalize. Then if we make a mistake, they capitalize and we end up losing the game. It is part of the game. It happens. You just have to make sure you don't do it 80 times a year. Just do it only 65-70 times a year and we'll be fine and in the playoffs."
12. Mike Clevinger allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out six. All the damage came via two home runs, both on changeups. That pitch was off all night, and the Royals made him pay for it.
13. Clevinger: “It was an inconsistent day with that pitch. That pitch stuck out to me. I just didn’t find consistency throughout the game. I’d get some good movement, some good bite, throw it wherever I wanted to and then I noticed it would start trickling back over the plate, not getting the same bite at the end.”
14. Clevinger has had a positive stretch in the majors in Corey Kluber’s absence, now owning a 2.82 ERA.
15. Francona: “It’s a shame because I thought he threw the ball pretty well. On two changeups that both of them he kind of yanked across the plate, kind of went right into Moss’ swing path. And it’s a shame because he really—I think he had six strikeouts and only the one walk. That was the last hitter he faced. But you know, the damage was done. Like you said, on two swings. But he worked ahead, he did a lot of good things. I don’t want him to lose sight of that.”
16. Kluber, meanwhile, threw five innings for Double-A Akron in a rehab assignment. The club will see how he feels and talk about options on Saturday for his next step.
17. Francona: “I think everything went real well. He said he felt good and I think he went through 15 pitches afterwards in the bullpen. So we’ll sit down with him tomorrow and kind of see what the next step should be. And we may not know tomorrow, but we’ll sit down and talk to him among ourselves and see what—but he needs to be in that conversation. And one we’ll want to see how he bounces back, too.”