Covering the Bases: Game 66

Final:

Indians 10, Reds 9

FIRST: Players typically like to tell us reporters that they aren’t thinking about potential milestones? “No, I wasn’t thinking about the no-hitter,” said the pitcher. “No, I wasn’t thinking about a home run in that situation,” said the hitter. OK, fellas. Whatever you say.

In the eighth inning on Monday, Lonnie Chisenhall sat a double shy of a cycle.

Guess what?

“That’s all I was thinking about,” Chisenhall said.

Ahh, how refreshing that was to hear for a change.

Alas, history was not on Lonnie Baseball’s side and he lined out to right field. He said he had a flurry of thoughts run through his mind — from hoping the ball fell short to trying to will it over Jay Bruce’s head. Had it rattled around in the corner, giving him a shot at a triple, Chisenhall said he would’ve stopped at second.

He didn’t get the cycle, but that did not sour the evening for the young ballplayer.

“I’m going to say it’s the best game in the Major Leagues so far,” he said after going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. “A combination of the fans, we’re scoring runs, we’re hitting timely home runs, stuff like that. Obviously having a good offensive night didn’t hurt.”

Chisenhall hit a two-run homer in the second, tripled and scored in the fourth and single in a run in the sixth.

For those curious, there have been four Indians players to hit for the cycle in the past 60 years. That list includes Travis Hafner (Aug. 14, 2003 against the Twins), Andre Thornton (April 22, 1978 against the Red Sox), Tony Horton (July 2, 1970 against the Orioles) and Larry Doby (June 4, 1952 against the Red Sox).

Chisenhall was part of great showing from the bottom third of Cleveland’s lineup. Nos. 7-9 hitters Johnny Damon (and late-inning replacement Aaron Cunningham), Casey Kotchman and Chisenhall combined to go 6-for-12 with two homers, four runs and six RBIs.

SECOND: Under different circumstances, this game would’ve been about Derek Lowe and his continued struggles of late. Fortunately for the Indians, the lineup bailed the veteran sinkerballer out. Against the Reds, Lowe surrendered seven runs on 11 hits in five innings.

Over his past five starts, Lowe has gone 1-3 with a 9.36 ERA, giving up 26 earned runs on 40 hits with a .367 opponents’ average across 25 innings. Over his first nine outings, Lowe went 6-2 with a 2.15 (tops in the AL at the time), giving up 14 earned runs on 65 hits with a .286 opponents’ average across 58.2 innings.

“I’m looking forward to June getting over with,” Lowe said. “Any time your sinker gets flat, you’re going to get hit. Let’s be honest, this isn’t 10 years ago where I could overpower guys. You’re more in the hitting zone, so when you don’t have your stuff, you’re going to get hit. That’s where I am.”

As for where that Lowe vs. Dusty Baker feud stands, well, neither wanted to field questions about it on Monday. A Reds PR man made it clear before the game that followup questions on the topic were off limits. After the game, Lowe rolled his eyes when asked if the issue was over and done with.

“Holy smokes,” he said. “Yes.

THIRD: So, one controversy ends, and another begins? Following the Reds loss, Cincinnati starter Mat Latos implied that the Indians were stealing signs. He never came out and said it in those specific words, but here’s what he told reporters:

“I was a little up in the zone. I thought I made some good pitches that they spit on with a runner on second base. I suppose it was kind of ironic. We changed up the signs, for the last hitter unfortunately. The outcome changed when we changed up the signs today. … I’m going to go back and look at video. A couple [times with] runners on second base, they put better swings on the ball than they did most of the time without a runner on second base. [Shin-Soo] Choo hit that double and then [Asdrubal] Cabrera was up [in the fourth]. Me and [catcher Ryan] Hanigan changed the signs up. He called for a slider. We were going with a certain call. That certain call we were going with beforehand was a curveball. I threw a slider and he was looking breaking ball and was jammed on a slider. That to me shows me a little something. Other than that, I was up in the zone. I made a couple of bad mistakes and they hit them.”

For what it’s worth, the Indians went 3-for-6 (.500) with a runner on second base before Latos and Hanigan changed up their signs for Cabrera in the fourth. That said, the Indians went 4-for-11 (.364) against Latos in all other situations. It sure looks like Cleveland had Latos’ number no matter the circumstances.

HOME: Monday night’s game was wild in so many ways (I haven’t even mentioned Johnny Damon’s adventure in left field that led to a two-base error, turning a Brandon Phillips double into a Little League inside-the-park home run) that it seemed fitting that closer Chris Perez gave up a run in the ninth inning.

No harm done. Perez avoided further harm and collected his 22nd save of the season, and 22nd save in a row. That moves Perez up the charts, putting him in sole possession of the second-longest single-season save streak (and fifth-longest overall) in franchise history.

Longest save streaks for an Indians pitcher
1. Jose Mesa, 38, 1995
2. Jose Mesa, 28, 1995-96
t-3. Bob Wickman, 24, 2005-06
t-3. Michael Jackson, 24, 1998-99
5. Chris Perez, 22, 2012

On deck:

Reds (38-28) at Indians (34-32)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Tuesday at Progressive Field

–JB

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