There is a lot of noise in baseball. I don't mean by that the sounds of the September crowds at Progressive Field, but rather the sum total of events that go into the ultimate calculation of wins and losses. The Indians, who outhit the Angels 14 to 6, should have won. And they should have lost. And they should have won again. And they lost. Like some epic battle that takes place in the bathroom stalls of a prize-fight between two drunks, no one is watching and the sum total of events only leaves us with one guy on the ground and one guy standing up.
Josh Tomlin got the start once again last night and once again appeared adequate. A two-run HR to Mike Napoli in the 5th and a solo shot to start off the 6th were the only runs he allowed through 6 innings, striking out 4 and walking 2. The Indians offense had only managed to plate one runner at this point, however, courtesy of a Jason Donald double followed by a Trevor Crowe single in the 5th. In the 7th Andy Marte brought the Indians within one with his 5th HR of the season. The Indians mounted another rally in the 8th. Trevor Crowe again came through with a solid AB resulting in a single to start the inning. Michael Brantley followed it up with a single, putting runners on first and second with no outs. At this point, presumably Manny Acta gave Asdrubal Cabrera the signal to sac bunt, which he did successfully. So in a one-run game in the 8th inning the Indians had runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. The problem is that the Angels responded by walking Choo, bringing up Shelley Duncan's spot in the lineup. Rather than put Duncan against the righty Kevin Jepsen, Acta elected to go to his bench and pass the opportunity of being a hero onto Jordan Brown. Brown (sigh), responded with a just-strong-enough GB to first base leading to a force at first and a throw and tag on Crowe at the plate. Perhaps taking the bat out of the team's two best hitters, Droobs and Choo, wasn't a great idea. Showing surprising resilience, however, the Indians mounted another rally in the 9th of Fernando Rodney, and this time around Acta brought in Nix to pinch hit, resulting in a game-tying single and pushing the game into extra frames.
Meanwhile on the pitching side of the things the Indians were steady in relief. Relieving Tomlin, Herrmann, Lewis and Perez combined for two perfect innings in the 7th and 8th. Joe Smith preserved the tie game in the bottom of the 9th. Justin Germano made it through 2 somewhat adventurous innings, and Tony Sipp recorded four outs before being relieved with one out in the 13th. If you are counting on your hands, Acta didn't have a lot of bullpen options left at this point, and elected to go with Rule 5 hanger-on Hector Ambriz. Ambriz finished off the 13th, got through the 14th with just a walk, and retired the 15th in order. Rolling out Ambriz for the 16th, his 3rd inning of work, may seem risky, or perhaps just desperate. Keeping him on the mound after giving up a leadoff double suggests the latter. After a Callaspo ground ball moved Hunter to 3rd, some fatal blow by Jeff Mathis, in this case a game-winning sac fly, almost seemed inevitable. And so after 16 innings and just shy of 5 hours of game time, the Indians pick up their 83rd 'L' on the season, and the Angels grab their 67th 'W'.