Monday, May 20, 2013
A little magic brewing in Cleveland
By David Schoenfield
This is one of those stretches that makes you happy to be a baseball fan. Or a baseball fan in Cleveland, at least. If you're a baseball fan in Seattle you may be starting to look ahead to football season.
The Indians just completed a four-game sweep of the Mariners, with three wins coming in walk-off fashion, two of those in extra innings, and the fourth win a 6-0 shutout over Felix Hernandez.
Monday's win featured a game-tying rally in the bottom of the ninth, and then after Justin Smoak homered in the 10th for Seattle, a walk-off, three-run homer from Yan Gomes, his second of the game. The tying run scored in the ninth when Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen dropped a throw at first base with two outs. In the 10th, the Indians were playing for a tie when Drew Stubbs sacrificed with nobody out, but Smoak's throwing error put two on with nobody out. Gomes followed with his blast to left off a 3-2 fastball from Charlie Furbush.
But it wasn't just Seattle's errors that created this latest bit of magic for Cleveland, now 18-4 since April 28 and 27-18 overall. The rally in the ninth included an infield single by Jason Kipnis on a 3-1 pitch that Robert Andino fielded and short-hopped Smoak, who should have made the scoop, and then a Nick Swisher blooper to right, just out of the reach of Andino. Home-plate ump Laz Diaz, who was terrible all game, had also missed a 2-1 pitch to Kipnis, which changed the structure of that at-bat. Michael Brantley began the 10th with another blooper to right just beyond Andino.
Hit 'em where they ain't.
So, good luck, good fortune and timely hitting. A pretty good combo.
Of course, the Indians have been here before. They were 33-20 on June 1 in 2011, five games up, and were still in first place as late as July 18. Last year's club was 26-18 in May and held first place on June 23 before collapsing to a 24-53 record in the second half.
But I think this is a better team, with a deeper lineup and, so far, better starting pitching. It's still early, but things are looking bright in Cleveland.