For the first seven innings of Friday’s contest between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees, Tribe fans were forced to relive the many nightmares of the final three games of the 2017 ALDS.
Cleveland couldn’t put anything together against CC Sabathia, and the Yankees bats did just enough damage to make things look bleak heading into the final frames.
Then the eighth inning rolled around, the Yankees with a 5-0 lead, and the whole thing started to look a lot more like Game 2. Of course, it didn’t end with the same team on top, as Miguel Andujar poked a walk-off single into shallow right-center to give the Yankees a 7-6 victory.
Still, after a discouraging start, the Tribe battled back and gave New York more than they were expecting late in the game. Here are some thoughts on the frustrating defeat.
Tomlin’s tough night
At surface level, Josh Tomlin‘s outing may look like just another bad day in what has been an incredibly tough start to the season for the righty. He surrendered five runs, all of them coming via the long ball, prompting Tribe Nation to lament his inability to keep the ball in the park in 2018.
What his final line score won’t tell you, however, is that he retired Aaron Judge with the bases loaded to end the second inning. It also won’t tell you, at least not in great detail, that a Francisco Lindor error in the fourth (on what might have been a double-play ball) led directly to a three-run home run off the bat of Gleyber Torres.
Tomlin may have gotten dinged up, but he only gave up four earned runs in seven innings on a night when the Indians couldn’t afford to overuse their bullpen. There was more promise shown in this outing than the numbers alone may indicate.
Late life from the offense
Down five runs late in the game with the Yankees’ vaunted bullpen lying in wait, just 24 hours removed from an exhausting doubleheader, the Cleveland Indians easily could have mailed this one in. Instead they staged an eighth-inning rally that momentarily sucked the life right out of Yankee Stadium.
Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve had allowed just one earned run in 12 innings of work coming into Friday night, but after a leadoff walk to Yan Gomes and a single by Rajai Davis, Bradley Zimmer was intent on changing that. Zimmer blasted a towering home run to center field to put the Indians on the board and cut the deficit to two.
Lindor followed that up with a single, but was tagged out by Didi Gregorius on a fielder’s choice by Jason Kipnis. The next batter, Jose Ramirez, fought through an eight-pitch at-bat before tying the game with a two-run shot.
Alexi Ogando would relinquish the lead back to New York in the bottom of the eighth with a bases-loaded walk to Judge, but the important thing to take from this comeback is the resolve the Indians showed in refusing to count themselves out.
More drama against Chapman
Nothing ever seems to go entirely according to script when Aroldis Chapman takes the mound against the Cleveland Indians. After a single off the bat of Gomes, Chapman squared up with his Game 7 nemesis, Rajai Davis. This meeting between the two ended far less dramatically, with Davis going down on strikes.
Chapman then drilled Zimmer in the elbow with a 99-MPH fastball, setting the table for Lindor. The Tribe shortstop got rung up on strikes, but not before a wild pitch put runners on second and third.
Kipnis then found himself down 0-2 when Chapman launched another wayward missile clean over the head and mitt of Gary Sanchez and allowed Gomes to score the tying run. Kipnis was then called out on a questionable check swing, leaving the score at 6-6 heading into the bottom of the frame.
Presumably in an effort not to tax his bullpen after Thursday’s doubleheader, Terry Francona kept Ogando in the game to face Giancarlo Stanton, who swatted a leadoff double into the right-center gap. Cody Allen then entered the game to prevent the winning run, but after recording two outs, surrendered the game-winner to Andujar.
The Cleveland Indians will try to exact vengeance on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 PM.