Indians 3, Reds 2 (10 innings)
FIRST: Indians manager Manny Acta was asked what ran through his head with the Reds took a 2-1 lead in the 10th inning on Tuesday, and the skipper knew Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman would be entering the game.
“He’s human. That’s my first thought,” Acta said. “There’s no one in the game that you should just pick up the bats and helmets and go away.”
The Indians did walk away, but only after throwing themselves a little party on the field.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera sliced a 3-1 pitch from Chapman to deep right field, where it sailed over the wall for a two-run, walk-off home run. The fans that hit the exits after the Reds took the lead in the top half surely heard the explosion of cheers from outside Progressive Field.
Given the circumstances — extra innings, one of the top closers in the game on the mound — Cabrera’s home run was impressive enough on the surface. But to have the discipline to take the pitch to the opposite field, and to do so with such authority, elevated the blast to another level.
“You have to be aware of what he does,” Acta said, “and watch videos and all that, and understand that against righties that’s when he throws the hardest. It’s his arm side and he just lets it fly. The ball sinks a little bit away from the righties, so if you go over there and you try to turn on the ball you’re in trouble. Plus, he probably throws harder.
“With the lefties, it’s the arm side and he still throws hard, but it’s not the same. The same thing happens to a lot of hard-throwing right-handers. Since the guy is not on their arm side, they just let it fly without any fear of hurting somebody. You have to make a conscious effort to not do too much, because he can provide the power with his velocity.”
Acta added that Cabrera had been working on opposite-field power in pregame batting practice.
“Some people were saying that he called it in batting practice,” Acta said. “He was working on hitting the ball out the other way. I won’t mention names, but he said he was going to do it.”
Worth noting: Shin-Soo Choo set the stage for the walk-off heroics. Choo delivered a one-out single to right-center field off Chapman to bring Cabrera to the plate. On the night, Choo went 3-for-4 with a walk, making him 31-for-90 (.344) with seven doubles, two triples, seven homers, 16 RBIs and 17 runs in 23 career games vs. the Reds.
SECOND: Chapman probably won’t mind if he doesn’t see the Indians until next season’s Interleague Play schedule. In two outings against the Tribe this season, he’s given up three runs in 1 1/3 innings. Cleveland has also tagged the hard-throwing lefty for two homers (Cabrera on Tuesday and Jose Lopez last week in Cincinnati).
Over his last six appearances, Chapman has given up six earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. In his previous 24 appearances, the Reds closer had a 0.00 ERA with 52 strikeouts over 29 innings.
Also on Tuesday, the Indians ended Chapman’s impressive strikeout streak at 34 games, dating back to last season. That’s 34 outings in a row with at least one strikeout recorded. Only two pitchers since 1918 (Bruce Sutter, 39 games, in 1977 and Eric Gagne, 35 games, between 2003-04) have enjoyed longer streaks.
THIRD: There were a handful of highlight-reel defensive gems in Tuesday’s win, but third baseman Jack Hannahan impressed Acta the most with his wizardry in the 10th inning. Heisey’s bat shattered on contact with a pitch from Joe Smith, and the barrel and the baseball both flew in Hannahan’s direction.
Without as much as a flinch, Hannahan stayed locked in fielding position as he concentrated on gloving the grounder cleanly. Never mind that shards of the splintered bat were spinning through the air and bouncing between Hannahan’s legs at the precise moment he collected the ball.
Hannahan then fired to second base for a fielder’s choice out.
“One of the most impressive plays was Jack’s play,” Acta said. “I don’t even know if he saw the bat. He said that he saw it, but he fielded that ball like that bat wasn’t coming, and that bat was very close to injuring him. … I know that a lot of people would’ve probably lost their concentration and probably run away from that bat.”
HOME: Cleveland’s pitching paved the way for this win. That began with starter Josh Tomlin, who surrendered just one run over 6 2/3 innings. That was good to see considering the Indians’ rotation entered Tuesday with a 5.00 ERA (12th in the American League) for the month of June.
Arguably the biggest out, however, came via Esmil Rogers in the seventh inning. After Tomlin loaded the bases, Acta handed the ball to Rogers with two outs and Devin Mesoraco at the plate. Rogers ended a nine-pitch battle by striking Mesoraco out with an 84-mph slider — one pitch after a 97-mph heater.
That preserved a 1-1 tie at the time.
“Huge out,” Acta said. “Somebody needed to get in there to get that out. Rogers, I felt was the right guy that could probably overpower somebody. He came in and got a huge out for us.”
Reds (38-29) at Indians (35-32)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Wednesday at Progressive Field
American League Central
1. Indians 35-32
2. White Sox 35-33 (.5 GB)
3. Tigers 33-34 (2 GB)
4. Royals 30-36 (4.5 GB)
5. Twins 26-40 (8.5 GB)