Game Twenty-Nine: Indians 3, Mariners 2 (11)

20080501_mariners_indians_0_medium 

Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Paul Byrd .540 David Dellucci -.248
Asdrubal Cabrera .479 Rafael Betancourt -.182
Travis Hafner .233 Casey Blake -.152

This was one of those game which would have been devastating had the Indians not won it. Paul Byrd pitched into the eighth inning, allowing no runs. Of course, the Indians only had a one-run lead, but there was only the matter of Rafael Betancourt pitching the ninth. Right?

Well, the run wasn't really due to Betancourt's pitching. Ichiro singled to start the inning, but after that it was the Cleveland defense that pushed the run home. Betancourt first threw a wild pitch, which if you've seen Rafael pitch you'd be shocked at. Then Ichiro attempted to steal third, and Victor Martinez got off a good throw. Too bad we'll never know if he would have thrown Ichiro out or not, since Casey Blake didn't catch the throw. The ball went down the third base line, and just like that the game was tied. Victor's feed was slightly off-center, and Blake tried to catch and tag in the same motion. Even if Ichio is safe, he's still on third, and given how both offenses hit, it was not a given that they'd get the runner in with less than two outs.

So the game went to extra innings. Enter Masa Kobayashi, who on the first pitch of the inning grooved a fastball to Richie Sexson, Now the Indians were down 2-1, and Seattle closer JJ Putz started to warm in the bullpen. The same guy who lead baseball in WXRL  last season (Betancourt was second). As it turned, it wasn't a good game to be a very good reliever, for Putz struck out Travis Hafner to start the inning, but then allowed three straight base runners to load the bases. Then he walked Grady Sizemore to force in a run and the tie the game. He struck out Casey Blake and David Dellucci to extend the game, though.

The Indians won the game in the eleventh in a similar fashion off of Mark Lowe and Sean Green. After Victor Martinez flied out, Jhonny Peralta walked, Travis Hafner doubled against the no-doubles defense, and Jamey Carroll reached via a HBP. This time, however, the big play came with two outs. Franklin Gutierrez struck out, leaving everyone to gnash their teeth at the probability that the Indians would leave the bases loaded again. But Asdrubal Cabrera lined a single to right and those depressing thoughts evaporated quickly away.

 

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