Indians vs. Tigers recap (Wednesday): Indians sweep Tigers on walk-off balk in 13th inning

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Probably the craziest game of the year, the Indians emerged victorious 11-10 after thirteen innings to sweep Detroit.

Game 47: Indians 11, Tigers 10

This one was wild from the start. I'm not even sure where to begin. Let's start with the fact the Indians won 11-10 after thirteen innings, getting the sweep over the Tigers in one of the craziest games this season. It was back and forth all afternoon and the Tribe very nearly ran out of pitchers over 5-plus hours, but the hometown team refused to die and gifted their fans a memorable victory.

After thirteen innings that put Indians fans through every sort of emotion possible, the Tribe had pulled even yet again when Michael Brantley singled home Mike Aviles to tie the game at 10-10. The Indians proceeded to load the bases when the Tigers decided to intentionally walk Yan Gomes, bringing Ryan Raburn to the plate. Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque was all set to throw when he shifted just enough for a balk to be called. Raburn knew instantly, thrusting his fists in the air in celebration, as Asdrubal Cabrera waltzed home to make it 11-10 and capture the series-sweeping win for the good guys. A crazier game you are unlikely to see, with the most bizarre ending as well.

So where do I start? Well, let's make one thing clear; Michael Brantley and David Murphy are this offense. Everything positive for the Indians runs through them and they are carrying this team on their back. Brantley is keeping the club competitive almost single handed, he's doing everything. Today he went 4 for 7 with a double, with 3 RBI and 2 stolen bases, including that game-tying run in the thirteenth that set up the win. Murphy went 2 for 6 with a walk and 4 RBI, including a mammoth 2-run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth to bring the score to 9-9. In the dictionary next to the word 'clutch' will be a photo of each man wearing an Indians hat, smiling mischievously.

Other notable performers were Michael Bourn, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Aviles. Bourn set the table all day, going 3 for 6 with a double. Chisenhall hit his first home run of the season, finishing with 2 hits total and a rare walk also. Aviles remained hot with the bat, going 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI.

Indians starter Zach McAllister struggled again for the third start in a row and never looked right from the beginning. Zach couldn't locate his pitches and was serving everything on a plate for the Tigers hitters. He pitched just 2 innings, and was pulled at the start of the third for reliever Scott Atchison. McAllister gave up 5 hits for 5 runs, 4 of them earned, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He gave up 2 home runs as well, to J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez. McAllister has been out of sorts for weeks and doesn't look any closer to regaining the form he had to begin the season. It's something the club need to monitor closely, because Zach is a trainwreck on the mound at the moment.

The Indians did a great job with McAllister's opponent, Max Scherzer. The Tigers' ace is arguably the best pitcher in the game right now and is in the midst of another Cy Young-worthy season. However, Cy Young awards don't mean much to this Indians offense. In fact, they seem to relish the challenge, and actively enjoy beating up on them. Well I didn't think it was possible, but the Tribe put a hurting on Scherzer today. He had his worst game of the season by far, giving up 7 runs, all of them earned, 12 hits, with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. To his credit, Scherzer somehow managed to battle his way through 7 innings, but the Indians got more runs off him than anybody anticipated.

Unlike Detroit sticking with Scherzer for nearly the entire game, the Indians had to turn to their bullpen early and often, using eight relievers in total, including tomorrow's scheduled starter Josh Tomlin. Naturally there were some mixed results:

Atchison and Carlos Carrasco pitched well, throwing 4 innings between them, scattering 2 hits and 4 strikeouts (Carrasco also had 2 walks). Josh Outman was effective, pitching a clean inning, and the youngster Kyle Crockett lasted 1.2 innings, giving up 2 walks but navigated his way through trouble with no harm done. Bryan Shaw was only needed for one out and got his man in the tenth inning, when he relieved Crockett.

Unfortunately Marc Rzepczynski and John Axford were not so good. Rzepczynski pitched 0.2 innings during the fifth, and gave up 2 hits and a walk for 2 runs, allowing the Tigers to tie the game 7-7. Axford pitched even less, just 0.1 of an inning, and was horrible. His usual location problems flared up again, as he gave up 2 walks and 2 hits for 2 runs, allowing the Tigers to retake the lead in the eighth inning 9-7. Axford is agonizing to watch at the moment and there are calls from some to cut our losses and DFA him. The club seriously needs to rethink the way they use him at the moment, because he is coming apart too easily during high-pressure situations.

Josh Tomlin, who never expected to pitch today since he was supposed to start tomorrow in Baltimore, was called into emergency relief and was excellent over 3 innings, striking out 6 and allowing just 1 walk and 2 hits. Unfortunately, one of those hits looked to be the defining moment of the game, when pinch-hitter Alex Avila crushed a solo homer to put the Tigers ahead 10-9 in the top of the thirteenth. Tomlin's bacon was saved however by the offense's heroics and Alburquerque's balk, and he somehow emerged as the winning pitcher. The cowboy is now 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Not too shabby.

The only other negative from today's win (apart from Carlos Santana's woeful 0 for 5 performance) was the Indians defense and their continuing habit of making errors on a consistent basis. Lonnie Chisenhall committed the first error of the game back in the first inning when he made a fantastic diving stop on a hit by Ian Kinsler, but his throw to first was way over the head of Nick Swisher. It wasn't even close, and the Tigers proceeded to tack 4 runs on McAllister that inning. The defense failed their pitcher again in the eighth when Axford was on the mound, after Victor Martinez reached base when Asdrubal Cabrera couldn't field a double play ball cleanly. Cabrera botched what looked like a simple reception from Aviles, which allowed Kinsler to score and Detroit to retake the lead. The Tribe must sort out these defensive mistakes soon before it becomes an epidemic (if it hasn't already).

But let's not dwell on the negatives shall we. The Indians won and against all the odds they've swept the Tigers. Tomorrow the Tribe travel to Baltimore for a four-game series and the Indians need to decide tonight who their starting pitcher will be, since Tomlin was called into service today. Your guess is as good as mine.

Box Score

Win-expectancy chart:


Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

Game Thread: PART ONE and PART TWO

Total comments: 1,170

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