House leads Indians to shutout Rangers, 2-0
A two run sixth inning all the Tribe offense needs to win their second straight
CLEVELAND—Two runs on five hits.
Talk about a unique way for the current Indians team to honor Jim Thome’s No. 25.
Well maybe not exactly, but that would be all the runs and hits the Tribe offense needed Saturday. A two run sixth inning was enough for Cleveland to shutout the Rangers, 2-0 to win their second straight against Texas.
Recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the ballgame, southpaw T.J. House looked sharp in his tenth major league start. Weaving in and out of a few jams, the lefty tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven.
“I thought he did good,” Francona said. “It’s an interesting line the way he got there. His pitch count was high, but he gave himself a chance.”
Exiting the ballgame in the sixth after two Rangers hitters reached base to start the inning, House left to a roaring crowd of 28,285 in attendance at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
Despite coming back and forth from the minors to the big leagues a few times already this season, it hasn’t seemed to faze the 24 year-old too much.
“It is a tough part of the game,” House said. “Going up and down and constantly traveling, but I have one job and my job is to come in here and help this ballclub win. Whenever that call comes I have to be ready.”
The rookie was picked up by one of the team’s most proven veterans in right-hander Scott Atchison (4-0, 2.77 ERA). With one out and Elvis Andrus on third, the 38-year-old used his legs to tag out the Texas shortstop caught between third and home plate trying to score on a groundball to Lonnie Chisenhall.
“I’m worried Atch is going to show up tomorrow and not know how to walk,” Francona said jokingly. “I don’t think he knew he could move like that.”
With both teams held without a run through the first five innings, Cleveland finally broke the scoreless tie in the sixth against Rangers starter Miles Mikolas (1-4, 7.29 ERA).
Held to just two hits at the time, Francona and the Tribe decided to play a little small ball and it paid off in a big way.
Jason Kipnis led off the frame with a single and was sacrificed over to second on a sac bunt by shortstop Jose Ramirez. The Tribe second baseman advanced to third on a Michael Brantley groundout, before Texas intentionally walked hot hitting Carlos Santana to get to Chisenhall.
The third baseman came through in the clutch, lining an RBI base-hit to center to give the Indians the lead. Four pitches later, Nick Swisher drove in the Wahoos second run with a single to right field for a two run lead.
It would be the only two runs Mikolas served up Saturday, throwing seven strong innings while walking two and striking out six.
“Their guy came in with a high ERA, but he was commanding not only with a solid fastball, but he was flipping that breaking ball over and it was making it tough on us,” Francona said.
“Hags has been a huge part and that’s really exciting to see,” Francona said. “I think he’s pitching with confidence.”
Then it was Cody Allen’s turn to slam the door in the ninth, but not before adding some sort lived drama. Allowing the first two Rangers hitters to reach base, the right-hander whiffed two of the final three batters to end the game.
“We were able to piece together a really good game as a team,” Allen said
“It started out interesting,” Francona said. “He was obviously having a tough time commanding, but he really bore down and it didn’t let it get the best of him.”
Cleveland (55-55) moves back to an even .500 record on the season while also gaining a game in the American League Wild Card race. The team sits just four games in back of the second wild card spot with 53 ballgames remaining on the schedule.
Up next for Indians: The Wahoos look to sweep the series with Texas in the series finale Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.25 ERA) gets the start against three-time All-Star Yu Darvish (10-6, 2.90 ERA) at 1:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The team needs to be restructured. It will be interesting to see how it is addressed this winter.
I suspect Murphy could be traded this fall with someone taking his contract. He is a very functional player for someone in need making a run.
I had just said the same thing a day or two ago about both Kipnis and Chisenhall (only because of Urshela's Gold-Glove defense; personally, I have a bigger problem with Kipnis at 2B than I do Chisenhall at 3B, especially since Ramirez is a superior defender and will not be at SS long-term; still, Urshela is starting to hit and does play better 3B defense than Chisenhall).
I would have Kipnis try RF and Chisenhall LF, only because Kipnis does have some OF experience from Arizona State. If that doesn't work, have Kipnis in LF (I think he can do well enough there), have Chisenhall be the main DH, playing a little 3B (to spell Urshela as he gets acclimated to the MLs) and a little 1B on occasion (hence, either Swisher is traded this offseason or he's only in the lineup 1-2 times a week, certainly no more than 3 times a week on occasion), and have Urshela and Ramirez on the infield, along with Lindor when he's ready, Santana, and Gomes/Perez. The defense should be vastly improved, especially on the infield.
Masterson gave up 5 runs but pitched 6 innings for a win. 5 runs in 6 does not often win for the Indians.
House and Tomlin will be good enough for .500 ball from the SP4/5 spots for the rest of the season. If Kluber, Salazar and Bauer can go .750, then the WC could go to us.
Cody Allen is unbelievable and taken for granted. You never know with pen arms, see Vinnie P., but he looks like a core player.