Covering the Bases: Game 52
Some notes and quotes from Thursday’s 5-4 win over the Royals.
FIRST: We will get to Francisco Lindor’s heroics, and what was running through his mind in the ninth inning on Thursday night, but let’s start with what ignited Cleveland’s latest walk-off win.
With Kansas City clinging to a 4-3 lead in the final frame, Carlos Santana led off by ripping a pitch from Joakim Soria into right field. The Indians’ designated hitter, who has been an above-average baserunner all season long, hustled up the line and around first base, forcing right fielder Paulo Orlando to quickly get the ball.
Orlando bobbled it and Santana made it to second base thanks to the error.
“That’s what won the game for us. Right there. That play,” Lindor said. “That’s what won the game for us. Besides the stuff that happened in the earlier innings, that play right there, I think it won the game for us. First, it gave us the momentum. Second of all, we started to believe. It was like, ‘Yes, we’re going to score. That run has to score.’
“The hustle by him — he’s not the fastest guy — but that hustle by him says a lot. He not only wanted a base hit, but he wanted to get to second. That’s important.”
Indians manager Terry Francona credited Santana for playing a part in the fielding error, too.
“Carlos put himself in a position where maybe he kind of helped the miscue,” Francona said. “Because, if you don’t push it, that doesn’t happen. And to get himself in a position to maybe not only maybe cause it, but to be in a position to where he can move up, which kind of set up the inning.”
Jason Kipnis followed with a sac bunt, moving pinch-runner Michael Martinez to third. Lindor then delivered the key hit — a triple to the wall in right-center. That set the table for Mike Napoli to deliver a game-winning sacrifice fly. Lindor scored from third, diving head-first across the plate to set off another on-field party.
Three times in this one, Cleveland took advantage of a Kansas City error.
First baseman Eric Hosmer made a throwing gaffe in the third, allowing Lindor to advance to second on a single. Lindor later scored on a hit from Jose Ramirez. In the eighth, Napoli singled into the hole, but shortstop Alcides Escobar made an ill-advised throw, which led to an error that moved Napoli up 9 0feet. He later scored on a single by Tyler Naquin.
“It’s rare. Whenever they make errors, it’s rare,” Lindor said. “They’ve got a great defensive team. Whenever you see them making mistakes and us taking advantage and making them pay for it, it’s huge.”
The Indians have now won back-to-back walk-offs for the first time since May 17-18, 2013.
SECOND: Now, about Lindor…
After the game, the shortstop said that he usually has a song running through his mind when he is walking to the plate. Lately, and again on Thursday, it was “Space Jam” by the Quad City DJ’s, a tune that’s been his walk-up music for a couple weeks now.
“Usually I’m singing my song in my mind,” Lindor said. “It gets me off the game.”
When Lindor walked to the plate in the ninth, though, something else was on his mind.
“Brantley’s voice,” Lindor said with a laugh.
Let’s let Frankie explain:
“He was telling me, he was like, ‘You can’t go to the plate thinking, “I’ve got to get a hit.” To get out of the slump, you can’t go to the plate thinking, “I’ve got to get a hit.” That’s when you’re going to go up and go straight back down. Think about making hard contact. If you make hard contact, that’s a plus. Think what you did right and, after that, take it to the next at-bat.’ That’s what we were talking about.”
Heading into the game, Lindor was in an 0-for-12 funk, or a 1-for-15 dry spell if you go back a little further. Leading up to the ninth inning, Lindor was in a 2-for-19 drought. The shortstop didn’t really view this as a typical slump, though.
“I never felt like I was going through a slump,” Lindor said. “I felt like I was having good at-bats. I felt like I was on time. I was just either getting on top of it or getting under it. So, I felt good the whole entire time.”
Lindor certainly felt good after what happened in the ninth.
THIRD: Before the late-inning comeback, the story of the night was the return of right-hander Carlos Carrasco. The starter was limited to around 80 pitches, and his night ended after he logged 78 in five innings. Carrasco allowed three runs on nine hits, including eight singles, and ended with two strikeouts and one walk.
It wasn’t a great outing, but having Carrasco back was a mental lift for the Indians.
“It’s a big relief. A big relief,” Lindor said. “It’s a relief. That’s at least 10-15 wins right there. I’m happy for him. I’m happy for the Indians. I’m happy for the fans, because he’s a fun guy to watch.”
Carrasco admitted to being a little nervous, but was happy with how things went overall.
“It was a lot of work that I did for the last six weeks,” Carrasco said. “It feels great to see my teammates fighting. We are close. Coming back today and pitching, I tried to go deep in the game. I only went five innings, but I feel great.”
HOME: The last play of the game came down to Lindor’s legs vs. Jarrod Dyson’s arm.
Napoli sent a pitch from Soria to left field, where Dyson made the catch. Lindor didn’t care how far or close Dyson was to the infield, the shortstop was planning on running home to try to score the winning run.
“No one is stopping me,” Lindor said. “I’m going no matter what. It could’ve been a little closer. I’m going no matter what. I wanted to score. That’s the ultimate goal. You get on base, because you want to score. You don’t want to get on base and just stay on base. As soon as I saw the ball go up, I’m going. I’m going. I’m going. And the third baseman kind of got in my way. I tried to get away from him. As soon as I saw him catching the ball, I was going no matter what.”
Lindor sprinted from third to home in 4.2 seconds, hitting a top speed of 19.8 mph. Dyson unleashed a 95-mph throw that traveled 261 feet. Lindor, and the Indians, won.
Stay tuned for more…