Cleveland-Tuesday night the Cleveland Indians were looking for something, anything to help them break through. The Cincinnati Reds were lead by a good performance from starter Luis Castillo, but Cleveland eventually found its answer. After failing to create any separation in the first nine innings, Cleveland and Cincinnati needed extra innings to decide game one of the two game series.
In the 10th inning, with the bases loaded, the rookie delivered.
Oscar Mercado hit a game winning RBI, to give Cleveland the 2-1 lead in game one of the two
Heading into the bottom of the tenth inning Cleveland was desperate for answers, and rookie Oscar Mercado delivered. Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded it would have been easy for the rookie to become prisoner to the moment, but that was never going to happen.
Francisco Lindor wasn’t going to let it. Lindor knew Mercado would be pressing after coming up short in his last opportunity with the game on the line. Before the rookie ever stepped in the batters box Tuesday night, Lindor began coaching Mercado through the moment.
“He immediately looked at me,” Mercado said, ” and started walking me through some things to do. Breathe, calm down, slow everything down. Then after the first pitch I looked to first and he was talking to me. So there’s a few pitches there where he’s talking me through the at-bat. And I like to lock it in, but I felt like it could help me, but also hurt me by overthinking and being in the moment too much. But I’m glad I did it. It was pretty cool.
Just as in life, baseball is the same, not everyone is worth listening to when it comes to advice. Francisco Lindor thought? He’s a good guy to listen to. The Indians shortstop is not only one of the more talented players in baseball, but he also does an excellent job of leading by example. On Tuesday night Lindor lead the Tribe with two doubles, a walk and a few stellar defensive plays. Since May 29th, the Indians leader is batting .356 (18-49) with four home runs.
After the game Francona talked about the rookie filling the spot that has largely been filled by Jason Kipnis for the past few years. As Lindor and Mercado form a trustworthy 1-2 punch at the top of the line-up, Francona discusses the bigger picture with the rookie.
“To expect Oscar to be able to do that right off the bat isn’t fair. He’ll grow into it. I mean he might grow into hitting 3rd. Just trying to put too much pressure on his plate, because I’m sure the game is moving pretty fast as is. But he’s holding his own pretty good.”
Cleveland never has a chance to win things in the 10th inning without the help of two guys, Carlos Santana and Trevor Bauer. Santana was able to break the scoreless tie in the fourth inning with his 13th home run of the season, which leads all Tribe hitters. Trevor Bauer on the other hand made things difficult for a talented Reds offense. Despite delivering 7.2 innings of one run baseball, Bauer did not factor into the decision. The Tribe right-hander allowed six hits, five walks, while striking out six Cincinnati hitters.
Cleveland and Cincinnati are back at it Wednesday afternoon, with a 1:10 first pitch. The Indians will send Zach Pleasac (1-1, 1.86) to the mound, while the Reds will counter with Anthony DeSclafani (2-3, 4.70.)
Last but not least:
Cleveland Indians RHP Mike Clevinger (strained back muscle) pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday night on a rehab assignment in Akron (Double A).