This was a strange, frustrating game, but I'll take that outcome ten times out of ten. Defensive miscues and failure to capitalize on runners in scoring position threatened to send the Indians into the home opener on a two-game losing streak. Instead, a late-game surge propelled them to a series win, bumping their overall record to 2-1. Up until the 9th inning, though, this was a pretty bleak affair.
After a disheartening performance in the early game of today's doubleheader, the Tribe looked up to more of the same for the evening: cold bats, shaky pitching, and mediocre defense. After the Tribe went 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Zach McAllister came on for his first start of the season, and looked uncomfortable from the beginning. Sam Fuld led off the game for the A's with a triple. A single, a walk, and a double later, the Indians were 2-0.
McAllister seemed to settle into a bit of a groove after that, but Tribe bats remained silent until the 4th inning. With Asdrubal Cabrera on first, Mike Aviles smoked a line drive just over the left field fence, tying the game up at 2. Raise your hand if you had Aviles hitting the team's first homer of the year... Unfortunately, the tie was short lived. McAllister struggled again in the bottom of the 4th, giving up an RBI single to Fuld, putting the A's up 3-2.
The Indians threatened with two outs in the 5th, but came up short. After McAllister walked his fourth batter of the game in the bottom of the inning, he was replaced by Marc Rzepczynski. Scrabble held things down nicely, striking out two and looking sharp over two and a third innings. The Indians tied the game once again on a Michael Brantley groundout in the top of the 7th, but then then the Indians began to play in an anti-optimal fashion. With one out, Josh Donaldson reached on a two base error when miscommunication between Brantley and Ryan Raburn caused a routine pop fly to drop. Donaldson reached third on a wild pitch, then scored on a Brandon Moss single. Fortunately, the damage was limited to just the one run.
Both teams went quietly in the 8th, but the Indians looked like a different team coming out against A's Proven Closer Jim Johnson. Raburn and Nick Swisher hit back-to-back singles. After Jason Kipnis grounded into a fielder's choice and stole 2nd, Carlos Santana walked to load the bases. Michael Brantley came to the plate, and in totally average fashion, singled to right field to drive in Raburn and Kipnis. An error on the play allowed Santana to advance to third. David Murphy drove him in with a sac fly, but the insurance run wasn't even needed.
John Axford set the A's down in order, earning his second save in as many tries. What looked all night like another agonizing, imminent defeat, turned into positive momentum going into Friday's home opener.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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