Indians: 32-31 Rangers: 31-32
When the schedule came out this winter, one of the difficult stretches in the schedule looked to be the week starting June 2: three at home against the defending champion Red Sox, then four in Texas against a near-playoff club who looked to be even better than the club that just missed the playoffs. Arlington has recently been a house of horrors for the Indians, and usually felt the effects of a road series with the Rangers several weeks down the road in the form of a tired-out pitching staff thanks to the battering they took.
But the Indians have lucked out in the timing of those two series. Boston came to town with several of their key cogs on the Disabled List, and the Rangers made the Red Sox seem healthy by comparison. Already missing 3 of their projected starting pitchers (Harrison, Perez, Holland), and several key position players (Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, Giovanny Soto), it seems miraculous that they started today at .500. And today alone they lost two more key players: Mitch Moreland was placed on the DL just before the game, and Rougned Odor, their top prospect who was filling in for Profar, left after jamming his shoulder while scampering back to first base. To call this club snakebit would be a huge understatement.
But even with those built-in advantages, the Indians still needed to play a pretty good game today to beat the Rangers. Vagabond pitcher Joe Saunders finessed his way through 5 innings, holding the Indians to one run, defusing a couple potential rallies with double plays along the way. Meanwhile, the Rangers had scored a run thanks to a Justin Masterson wild pitch with the bases loaded that started two feet off the plate and tailed off from there. But the Indians finally got to Saunders in the sixth thanks to a walk, two singles, and a sacrifice fly. Lonnie Chisenhall, as usual, was in the middle of the action, having singled with Yan Gomes on first base, and Ryan Raburn drove home the go-ahead run with a bloop single to center. David Murphy, who is having a fine series against his former team, then drove home the second run of the inning with a fly ball to deep center field.
Masterson though almost gave up the new two-run lead in the bottom of the inning. Adrian Beltre doubled down the right field line, then Alex Rios tripled off the top of the wall in center field to quickly cut the lead to 3-2. After Masterson retired LGFT Chris Gimenez for the second out of the inning, Terry Francona had seen enough, bringing in Scrabble to face Leonys Martin. Martin grounded out to second to end the threat.
This is where Josh Tomlin's eight innings came into play. Because the only reliever to pitch in yesterday's win was John Axford, Bryan Shaw was rested, and thanks to a quick seventh inning, pitched the eighth as well. In the eighth, Alex Rios walked with two outs, then was called safe when he tried to steal second. Francona challenged the play, and replays showed that Jason Kipnis was able to tag the bottom of Rios' right foot before he slid into second base.
Because of that call, Cody Allen was able to face to 6-7-8 hitters in the injury-depleted Rangers lineup, making quick work of them in the ninth to preserve a 3-2 victory in a park that doesn't usually produce many 3-2 victories.
With the victory, the Indians surged above .500 for the first time since the middle of April.
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