CLEVELAND – For the second time in as many series, the Indians had a chance for a sweep against a first-place team, but just like Thursday against the Twins, they came up short.
A series win over the Yankees is always something to be proud of if you check any betting guide, but after coming back after being down 5-0 and 6-5, it stings that the team short in a 7-6 setback in 10 innings.
Shane Bieber looked dominant over the first five batter, striking out four, but then fell off a cliff, allowing five runs before being pulled in stunning fashion in the second inning.
The comeback started with a Leonys Martin solo homer, and then after a Carlos Santana single make it 5-2, a shocking two-run blast by Mike Freeman made it a one-run game.
Jake Bauers tied it at five in the 7th, and an error by Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius allowed the Tribe to tie the game and play extra innings.
Aaron Hicks’ double off Oliver Perez won the game for New York, sending the Indians to 33-32 on the season as they get set for a short two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s a few takeaways from today’s loss for the Indians:
1. Have to Love the Fight
It would have been easy to pack it in down 5-0 after two innings, just being happy with winning the series. Instead the offense finally got going against the Yankees bullpen, scoring four times in the 6th to make it interesting.
Bauers’ homer in the 7th tied it, and then the team scored again in the 9th when Jose Ramirez singled off Aroldis Chapman to start the frame, and scored with two outs on an error by Didi Gregorius.
Oscar Mercado had a shot to win it before striking out, and in the 10th the team was blown away by Yankees reliever Stephen Tarpley finally taking the one-run loss.
This team has shown a different attitude since losing pitcher Carlos Carrasco on Wednesday (the meeting was actually Tuesday night when the players found out).
Could they be playing for one of their own in Carrasco? Or is it this team finally is coming together with a couple players hitting the baseball – Francisco Lindor, Mercado, Santana and Perez.
Now that they are 4-2 on this homestand, it’s important the team take care of business against the Reds, who come to town with a mark of 29-35.
2. How Quickly Shane Soured
Shane Bieber looked like he was on tap to strike out 15 Yankees and throw a shutout over the first inning, striking out the side.
He was so good in that first he threw five strikes to start the game, and got four of the first five outs via a strikeout.
Then the bottom dropped out. And fast.
A single and two-run homer by Brett Gardner started the downfall, and then it just kept going before Bieber was finally lifted allowing five runs, five hits, two walks, five K’s and one homer.
It was stunning how quickly he lost it on the mound, and it forced the coaching staff to use six relief pitchers in the eventual 7-6 loss.
Bieber had won three straight entering the game and looked like he was on his way for a fourth straight over the first five batters.
It ended quickly, and now Bieber will have to regroup for his next outing which should come over the weekend in Detroit.
3. Have to Keep It Up
The Indians schedule favors them greatly over the next two months, and if this team’s offense can continue on their current pace, it does look like they can make this race interesting over the summer.
They get to start that on Tuesday against the Reds, as Trevor Bauer, who continues to look for his first win since April 30th, will get the chance to take the mound.
After the Reds comes a road trip at Detroit and then to Texas for four games. The hope is that the team will get Mike Clevinger back which will help this pitching staff, but again this team needs this offense to keep hitting the ball like they have the last six games.
They’ve scored 37 runs in the last six games (over six runs a game), and while there will be nights in which they run into good pitchers, they are taking better approaches at the plate, and it’s paying off.
Now they need to not allow Monday’s off day to stop the momentum.