Player of the Game
Nyjer Morgan has been a solid back-up for Michael Bourn this season, but today it brought it to another level. He played left field for the first time this season and was fine defensively, but was really special with the bat. He went 3-4 with two RBI and three runs, but there is more to Morgan’s game than pure stats. A couple events will be explained in further detail later on, but for now, it is enough to say that he worked very hard for his singles and the runs that scored after them. In his fourth at bat, Morgan hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot to right against Bradon Gomes.
Morgan looked over matched in his first at bat against Chris Archer, but that didn’t keep him from knocking in Asdrubal Cabrera from third and tying the game. Morgan check swung on a 1-2 fastball and it worked as a perfect safety squeeze, rolling down the third base line long enough to allow Cabrera to score. Morgan then scored himself on a two out, two run Michael Bourn double that gave the Tribe a two run lead.
Terry Francona won a challenge today when Nyjer Morgan slid head first on a ground ball to third and was initially called out. While it didn’t seem that important at the time, coming with no one out in the sixth, it ended up mattering as Morgan went to second on a balk, third on a wild pitch and scored on a Mike Aviles sacrifice fly to push the Indians’ lead to three runs.
Josh Tomlin wasn’t quite as good as last time out, but was still solid, allowing just six hits in six innings. Matt Joyce was responsible for both the Rays runs, one scoring on a solo home run and the other on a fourth inning single after a Ben Zobrist double. Tomlin struck out two, far from the rest of the team’s 1.03 strike outs per inning, but that really isn’t his game. Instead, he did a great job limiting damage, by forcing batters to put the ball in play and not walking anyone. In his first 12.2 innings, Tomlin has allowed just four runs, ten hits and one walk.
Nick Swisher had his first full off day of the season and the Indians didn’t miss him at all. Carlos Santana played first for the second time and Morgan was his replacement in the line-up with Michael Brantley DHing. Morgan had the game of his life and every other batter in the lineup reached base at least once. Swisher was in dire need of a day off as he is coming dangerously close to the Mendoza line.
The Indians lead the Majors with 37 errors after adding another two today. This time, it was the pitching staff that was at fault, with Josh Tomlin and Marc Rzepczynski making the poor throws. Each of the two throws forced the position player to come off the base to catch the ball and the second error allowed a run to score. Rzepczynski fielded a routine double play ball with runners at the corners off the bat of James Loney in the eighth, but threw to the left of second base, forcing Cabrera to come off the base to field the ball. All three runners were safe on the play and the Rays were able to score on a play that should have ended the inning. Indians pitchers have now committed six errors on the season, making them almost as much at fault as the fielders behind them.
After the error, Cody Allen had no control coming in from the pen and gave up a single and hit a batter, allowing both of Rzepczynski’s runners to score. He lucked out against Yunel Escobar, who only hit a sacrifice fly near the wall in right. Allen couldn’t throw his curve ball near the strike zone, forcing him to depend solely on his fastball, leaving him vulnerable to the Rays hitters. He was able to end the inning with the lead intact, however, earning him an undeserved hold. In all, the Indians used all the relievers designated as the new closer by committee and, while they did look like a committee, they looked nothing like a closer.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 6 – Tampa Bay Rays 5
On Deck: Monday is a travel day for the Tribe as they will head up to Canada. Game one against the Blue Jays will be Tuesday night at 7:07 PM.