Covering the Bases: Game 11

Final:

Indians 2, Mariners 1

FIRST: The ninth-inning rally is what Indians fans will remember most, along with the clean save from closer Chris Perez that nailed down this win. Those were the final images that will stick out in peoples’ minds. This victory began and ended with the performance from Josh Tomlin, though.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of my little cowboy,” manager Manny Acta said,

Yup, the little righty from Texas went toe to toe with King Felix and came away with a well-deserved win. It was nice for the Indians to see, too, considering Tomlin had posted an 8.31 ERA in his early-season showing going into this evening. But, Safeco Field is a great place for a flyball pitcher like Tomlin to work. And, boy, did he take advtantage.

Tomlin was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and got ahead early and often — evidence by the 23-of-29 first-pitch strikes. He scattered five hits, struck out seven and allowed no walks over eight innings. The one run Tomlin surrendered came courtesy of an error by Jason Kipnis. No harm done in the end.

SECOND: The Indians offense was unable to get anything going all night… against King Felix, that is. But, that’s the case more often than not against the former Cy Young winner. Hernandez struck out 12, walked one and gave up no runs on five hits over eight frames. Fortunately for the Indians, Felix’s pitch count climbed to 126 through eight and Seattle turned to closer Brandon League with a one-run lead. With Hernandez out of the game, Cleveland’s offense went back to work and pulled off a two-run rally in the ninth that held up as the game-winning turn.

THIRD: Jason Donald has played soundly in the absence of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The biggest pay of the night came in the fourth inning, when Kyle Seager sent a pitch up the middle for what looked destined to be an RBI single. Instead, Donald made a spectacular run-catch-spin-and-throw to first base. Casey Kotchman leaned, picked the ball out of the dirt and kept a toe on the bag as he fell for a highlight-reel play that ended the inning and saved a run. When you’re facing someone like King Felix, plays like that loom large.

HOME: As powerful as the Indians’ offense has been to date — they entered Thursday leading the league in runs scored and home runs per game — one of the biggest developments has been the high walk rate so far this year. Cleveland drew another four walks in Thursday’s win, giving them 57 through 11 games. Heading into Thursday’s game, the Tribe ranked first in the AL in walks and first in baseball with the best walk rate (walks per plate appearance) in baseball. In the ninth inning, Cleveland’s rally was started with a leadoff walk from Carlos Santana and Shelley Duncan drew his 11th walk of the year to load the bases in the same frame. That set the stage for a two-run single from Jack Hannahan.

On deck:

Indians (6-5) at A’s (7-7)
10:07 p.m. ET on Friday at the Coliseum

–JB

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