The magic continues to find its way back to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario Street. For the 11th time this season (nine different players), the Cleveland Indians have a walk-off victory.
The 2-1 win trimmed their magic number to six courtesy of Brandon Guyer’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth frame off Joakim Soria to plate Coco Crisp and put the Royals even farther out of playoff contention.
To recap, Jose Ramirez walked and Crisp reached on an error before Rajai Davis moved both runners over on a ground ball that deflected off Soria and rolled to first for what operated as a sacrifice. With two outs, manager Terry Francona elected to pinch hit Guyer for Roberto Perez. A 1-2 Soria fastball was sliced into the right field corner just past the sliding Paolo Orlando for the game-winner. Guyer was mobbed shortly thereafter.
“I relish any opportunity,” said Guyer. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be fair or foul. I wasn’t sure if he (Orlando) was going to catch it. I rounded first base and just saw the first base umpire say fair so I started celebrating.”
Overshadowed in the wild home affair was another dominating outing from Josh Tomlin with nearly seven innings of one-run ball against the 25th ranked offense in Major League Baseball. Edinson Volquez matched his pitching counterpart thanks to a line of 6.2 IP 4 H 1 R/ER 3 BB 5 K.
“It feels good to be able to contribute and help this team win,” Tomlin said. “My job now is to look forward and try to go as many innings as I possibly can and try to keep this team in contention.”
Carlos Santana also notched his 150th career home run, a third inning solo shot that broke the scoring barrier and marked the only offense prior to the ninth inning for the Tribe.
Tomlin resurges with second straight quality start
A pair of potential season-ending injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar has been the major storyline of September. Despite the negativity surrounding the Central Division frontrunners, Tomlin has silently emerged in his return to the starting rotation posting a 1.54 earned run average in his last two starts.
Tomlin had a 0-5 record and 11.45 ERA in August, but appears to have returned to form with a winning line of 6.2 IP 5 H 1 R/ER 0 BB 3 K (84 pitches, 52 strikes, 62%) on Tuesday night.
“I thought he (Tomlin) was outstanding,” Francona said. “Efficient, threw strikes, everything was crisp, he did a heck of a job.”
The right-handed veteran is on a similar track this month as he was in June (2-0, 2.60) when he was proclaimed as one of the most successful hurlers in the league.
“I think a lot of people have kind of written Tomlin off,” said catcher Chris Gimenez earlier in the month. “He was one of the best pitchers in the American League the first half of the season.”
Tomlin’s next start is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, September 25th against the Chicago White Sox.
Miller walks the eighth-inning tightrope
Andrew Miller was acquired from the New York Yankees to pitch the Indians bullpen out of high leverage situations in the late innings. The lefty did just that in the divisional battle.
Once Bryan Shaw surrendered a one-out single to Cheslor Cuthbert, Miller entered. Despite a stolen base from pinch-runner Terrance Gore followed by a wild pitch, the lanky lefty struck out Christian Colon and Whit Merrifield on called third strikes to retire the side and strand the runner at third base.
“It seems like at home the magic seems to happen,” Miller said. “That’s the most fun part about being here, it seems like everybody in here expects to win every night.”
Miller earned his ninth win of the season thanks to his 1.2 scoreless frames of relief. Additionally, Miller now has 17 relief appearances with at least three strikeouts, the highest total in professional baseball.
Central Division update
Kansas City is now 10.5 games behind first-place Cleveland and trails in the wild card race by five games.
Detroit held its own with an 8-1 victory over Minnesota to remain seven games back.
The nine-game home stand continues on Wednesday evening as the Indians and Royals will square off at 7:10 PM from Progressive Field.
With Carrasco and Salazar injured, the clear ace of the Tribe’s pitching staff will take the hill in RHP Corey Kluber (17-9, 3.12). In his 17 starts against Kansas City, Kluber has a 6-6 record and a 3.23 ERA.
Opposite him will be RHP Ian Kennedy (11-9, 3.60), a 31-year-old veteran that’s unbeaten in his last 10 starts (5-0, 2.14). Kennedy has been killed by the long ball this season with 31 home runs allowed, tied for fourth in all of baseball.null