The Indians are now an amazing 7-1 on this road trip, and with the win tonight, they've clinched a win in their first three road series of the season, the first time that's happened since the days of Joe Carter and Cory Snyder.
Now you could say that the Indians should have done this, especially on the Western swing of their road trip. The Mariners and Athletics will most likely be fighting each other to stay out of the AL West basement. But winning 7 out of 8 games is difficult regardless of who you're playing, and doing this on the road adds even more to the degree of difficulty. Although neither Seattle nor Oakland have much of an offense, they do have decent pitching, and the Indians have faced and defeated both teams' aces on the trip.
Brandon McCarthy, the lone holdover from last year's starting rotation, pitched for Oakland, and had an uncharacteristically difficult time throwing strikes. McCarthy last season walk just 25 batters, but in 7 innings tonight he walked 3 Indians in addition to 10 hits allowed. The Indians only scored two runs in seven innings off McCarthy, but it should have been much more. The Tribe offense had opportunity after opportunity to blow the game open in the first seven innings, but just couldn't get that big hit.
Meanwhile Jeanmar Gomez was making his second start, and before the night was over would more innings in this start than he pitched previously this season. His spot in the rotation was skipped due to a rain out and off days, and his first start was shortened because he was ejected after just two innings of work. And it had a full week since that start in Kansas City. He wasn't as sharp this time out, but after working his way out of jams in the first and second innings, he got locked in and began to induce grounders after allowing mostly fly balls in the first couple innings. He would be pulled in the sixth inning after throwing 88 pitches because he just hasn't been stretched out yet. Assuming he drops the appeal to his suspension before tomorrow's game, he'll next pitch a week from tonight.
Dan Wheeler replaced Gomez in the sixth, and allowed an inherited run to score, making it a 2-1 game. Tony Sipp was summoned to pitch the seventh, and finally had an effective inning, retiring Oakland in order. The Indians then broke the game open in the eighth after having missed opportunities all game long. And the Oakland outfield played a big role in that eighth inning. With two outs and runners at first and third, Jason Kipnis hit a ball to the fence in right-center, a well-hit but catchable ball. But Josh Reddick drifted to the ball, and totally mistimed his jump, missing the ball completely. Kipnis went to third on what was scored a triple, and the Indians had two much-needed insurance runs. Kipnis would then score on a wild pitch to make the lead 5-1.
Manny Acta tried to get away with not using Chris Perez in the ninth, but warmed him up after Jairo Asencio got into trouble. Even though Asencio struck out Kurt Suzuki for the second out of the inning, Acta brought in Perez to record the final out, for by that time it was a save situation (tying run on-deck). Tonight marked the third straight game Perez pitched in, so that probably means he will not be available to pitch in the finale.