Gomes powers Indians over White Sox, 3-2
Bauer pitches another gem; offense comes through late to win series
CLEVELAND—For a first half of a season that featured so many highs and lows, Sunday’s series finale couldn’t have ended on a better note.
Trailing Chicago 2-1 in the eighth inning, Yan Gomes stepped up and delivered when it mattered most. The Tribe catcher launched a go-ahead two-run homer just over the wall in right field to give the Indians both the lead and win, edging the White Sox, 3-2.
"I was thrilled for him personally,” manager Terry Francona said. “I was happy for our team and thrilled for him because he was under the weather. He was battling it all day, but he didn't want to come out.”
The long ball gives Gomes 12 homers on the season, setting a new career-high.
“It's nice to see him get rewarded for that because he puts so much effort into getting a pitcher through a game. When he gets a big hit like that, it’s great.”
The Brazilian native was productive at the plate all afternoon, going 2-for-3 and driving in all three of Cleveland’s runs in the ballgame.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Gomes said. “They were giving me a big hole the other way, so I was trying to get a pitch to stay on top of and drive it that way. I didn't think I was going to do that, but it felt pretty good.”
He gave the Indians their first lead of the game with an RBI single off Chicago starter John Danks in the second inning. The White Sox starter surrendered just one earned run over seven innings of work against the Tribe offense, walking two and striking out four.
His opposing counterpart fared even better.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer shutout the Chicago offense to eight hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out a career-high 10.
“I thought he was very, very good,” Francona said. “He competed as always, used all his pitches and threw strikes. When he did get himself in a little bit of a bind he pitched out of it.”
Bauer averted trouble in the second inning thanks to a slick double play turned by Mike Aviles, but it wouldn’t come in the infield. With Chicago third baseman Conor Gillaspie on first base and one out, second baseman Gordon Beckham flew out to Aviles in left field. Aviles quickly fired the ball back to first from deep left on the fly, doubling up Gillaspie slowly getting back to the base.
“That was a heck of a play,” Francona said. “He made a perfect throw. As that inning unfolded, that was huge.”
“Hey scoot over [Yoenis] Cespedes, now we have Mike Aviles throwing balls like that,” Gomes said jokingly. “It was pretty impressive. That's one crazy play.”
For Bauer, the defensive gem helped him get through the inning unharmed, going onto toss his eighth straight quality start at Progressive Field since May of last season.
“As the game progressed like he does, he got stronger,” Francona said. “When we leave him out there when he's up over 110 pitches that tells you how we feel he's pitching.”
Over his last two starts, the Indians right-hander has now logged 11 2/3 scoreless innings of work, quietly becoming one of the club’s most consistent starters. Eight of his 10 strikeouts on the afternoon came on his breaking ball.
“I felt pretty good,” Bauer said. “They hit one or two balls hard today and for whatever reason, the first time through the order they seemed to fall. I just try and make one good pitch at a time. Sometimes the breaking ball is there, sometimes it's not. Luckily today I had it and I needed it against some good hitters.”
“He was pretty incredible,” Gomes said. “Especially against a hot White Sox team, to go through that lineup and shut them down is pretty impressive.”
The 23-year-old wouldn’t be able to come out with the win though, as the Tribe bullpen collapsed late. Reliever Bryan Shaw (4-1, 2.70 ERA) served up the tying run in the eighth on an RBI single by Beckham before center fielder Leury Garcia singled home the go-ahead run on a hit under the glove of Jason Kipnis.
“Sometimes the outcome isn't exactly the way he pitched,” Francona said. “Bryan is pretty consistent with what he takes out there.”
Despite being down, Gomes gave the Indians the momentum they needed Sunday and heading into the All-Star break with his blast off White Sox reliever Javy Guerra (0-2, 3.32 ERA).
“Gomer came up there and hit a big homer when we needed it the most,” closer Cody Allen said. “Anybody that watched us last year knows that we're never out of a ballgame. Anything can happen and it did.”
Allen slammed the door for his 12th save of the year with an easy ninth inning, striking out the final two Chicago hitters. The hard-throwing righty is now 11-for-11 in his last 11 save opportunities.
Cleveland (47-47) finishes the first half with a .500 record, sitting 7.5 games behind the first place Tigers in the American League Central. The quest to play in the postseason is still very much alive as the Wahoos are just 3.5 back in the A.L. Wild Card race.
“We're right there especially in this division,” Gomes said. “I know this series is going to take a really big turn for us. I feel like we're making that turn now where everybody kind of understands their role, so it's great to see.”
“The biggest thing was getting a win against a division opponent, and getting into the All-Star break on a good note,” Bauer said. “We have an important road trip after the break so it's good to go into it on a positive, and hopefully come out of it on a positive too.”
Up next for Indians: After a four day All-Star break, the Tribe hits the road for an 11-game road trip beginning Friday July 18 with a four-game series against division rival Detroit.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
The contract that really concerned me was Kipnis'- as I said before, he hasn't had even an .800 OPS since last June since he had that mind-blowing and unsustainable 1200+ OPS. Combine that with unspectacular, even poor defense (from what I heard and a little of the highlight I seen, a better second baseman would have kept that ball on the infield and kept that run from scoring), and I don't see Kipnis as our long-term second baseman, regardless of the six-year contract.
I have a feeling that contract is going to be a hindrance long-term, as much or more so than even Bourn and Swisher's. While the amount isn't that much in comparison, the fact that Kipnis can only play 2B on the IF and would probably have to be shifted to LF or RF (probably LF, with Brantley shifted to CF provided Bourn can be traded) will mitigate his value, plus make it difficult for him to play, since his offense likely won't be of the typical LF. Yet, you have Ramirez, Wendle, and Rodriguez, all of which could be better fits at 2B than Kipnis, and all of them playing the position as well or better defensively, you can't let Kipnis stay there for the next few years or the length of his contract with the way he has been performing.
I'd be curious to know what his WAR is on the season, but I can't imagine it's too good. In fact, it likely hasn't been good since last July, so he's had a year of poor performance- outside of some offensive bursts, he hasn't been the impact player people were thinking he would be. I really do NOT want to see him in the heart of that order, as he hasn't hit well enough to go there. In addition, I'm not convinced he's better at handling LHP than Chisenhall- I am more confident in Chisenhall facing them than I am Kipnis, mostly because Chisenhall can drive the ball the opposite way, something that Kipnis largely has not shown in the seasons he's been up him.
Many of the Indians have to show more consistency, such as Bourn, Santana, Swisher, and Murphy. Kipnis, especially, needs to show that he is the guy the Indians they were signing this past offseason, or they really need to think about making a transition to the OF for him in the offseason and grooming Ramirez for 2B, along with maybe a veteran to assist him (Aviles, maybe?).
ahh.... at the break... The come from behind win against the pale hose capped the finish to the first half.. The Indians find themselves on the edge of contention.. there are good things happening in the city.. and the Tribe is part of it..
The "Battery" gets the end of first half nod as being exactly what the Indians FO envisioned when two trades were made.. Bauer and the Yanimal.. Best performance by Bauer to date.. and he's developing a habit that is kind of scary good... as the game goes on, he gets better.. The Yanimal with the heroic two run blast made the team a winner.. all from the bottom of the order..
If the season were to start today.. and you were given the opportunity to claim a .500 record at the break, who would be unhappy?.. When you go back through the games:
The three series against west coast teams (LAA/SF/Oak) are what stand out as 'the darkest hour' for this season.. 9 losses in 9 games.. (April 25th - April 30th & May 16, 17 & 18).. O for 9.. putrid offense.. lack of spark..disappearance of the starting pitching.. poor bullpen performances.. etc.. everything that could go wrong.. DID..
The remaining parts of the season were all.. "pretty good".. The flameout of Salazar.. the redirection of the Axman into a middle reliever.. the disturbing lack of consistency and health from Masterson.. the emergence of Cody Allen.. the incredible season of Dr Smoooth.. all played into a team that could be contending for the division lead...
The break comes at a great time.. Perhaps both Swish & Santana will show up for the second half.. IF they do, there will be October baseball in Cleveland.. again in 2014... Perhaps, it will last more than a game this time.. Baby steps...