Indians defensive errors give Houston a late 5-1 victory
Carrasco pitches well, but Tribe defense gives up the game in the ninth
CLEVELAND—The Indians have 99 problems, and all of them are errors.
Knotted in a 1-1 tie with Houston in the ninth, two critical defensive errors by the Tribe cost them the series opener. Held to just one run on two hits all night, the Astros went onto score four runs in the inning, leading to a 5-1 victory.
“That’s not the way we certainly want to play the game,” manager Terry Francona said. “Losing is one thing, but losing like that…we need to do better.”
After Indians closer Cody Allen (4-3, 1.81 ERA) issued a walk to Chris Carter with one out in the ninth, the bottom just simply fell out. What looked like a potential double play ball off the bat of Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler turned into a throwing error by first baseman Carlos Santana.
One batter later, the Astros regained the lead for good.
Fowler stole second as Tribe catcher Roberto Perez bounced the ball into the outfield for the team’s second error in the inning. It proved even more costly on one swing of the bat by Jon Singleton, belting a three-run opposite field homer leaving Cleveland scratching their heads.
“One of his strengths is catching and throwing, but he threw it so short we didn’t have a chance to make the play,” Francona said.
To hurl more fuel to the fire, the Tribe offense blew a huge opportunity to take the lead just a half inning earlier in the eighth.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, Mike Aviles would get picked off second before Houston caught pinch-hitter Tyler Holt stealing third. The mishap ran Cleveland out of the inning and gave former Indians reliever Tony Sipp (4-2, 2.43 ERA) a huge break.
“You got to be pretty sure you’re going to make it,” Francona said. “That comes with youth. What I don’t want him to do is play scared, but I do think we have an obligation to talk to our guys.”
“I just feel like that’s baseball and unfortunately it happened to us,” Holt said. “I don’t want to say it was a waterfall, but I tried to make something happen. Felt like I had a good jump, that’s the way I play.”
It was youth though that gave the Indians their only run of the game yet again. Rookie 24-year-old Zach Walters lined a solo homer off Astros starter Brad Peacock to give the offense their lone highlight.
For Walters, it was already his fifth long ball since being traded to the Tribe and the third he’s hit in the last three games.
Just like they have been all month, the Indians also were dealt with more quality starting pitching, this time courtesy of Carlos Carrasco. Coming into the contest not having allowed a run in his last 12 innings, the right-hander looked sharp again Friday.
Making his third start since being transitioned back to the rotation, Carrasco went a strong six innings of work, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out a season-high eight.
“I felt really good,” Carrasco said. “I gave my team an opportunity to win the game.”
His only hiccup came in the fifth inning, serving up a homer to Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to give Houston the first run of the game.
Winners of seven of their last 10 at Progressive Field prior to the game, Cleveland (64-63) falls five games in back of the second wild card seed with arguably the club's ugliest loss of the season.
“On a night like this, when it ends like it did, it’s so easy to start ganging up on the mistakes,” Francona said. “We have about six weeks left. If we want to continue to be in this thing, we’re going to have to play a lot cleaner. We can’t play like that and expect to win.”
Up next for Indians: The Wahoos look to get back in the win column against Houston on Saturday. Danny Salazar(4-6, 4.79 ERA) gets the start opposite of Astros right-hander Collin McHugh (6-9, 3.00 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Troy, when Carrasco's first pitch of the game registered 99, the Houston broadcasters nearly fell out of their chairs. I never thought anyone could learn anything just pitching out of the stretch, much less maintain their best stuff. Boy, was I wrong. I always believed in Carlos, but never thought some reliever voodoo would turn his confidence around. Whatever approach Callaway and crew used on Carrasco is potentially more productive than any magic dust that was sprinkled on Ubaldo (who is now a $50 million long man in Baltimore, by the way. Hilarious. Oops, Ryan, couldn't help myself.)
By the way, anyone notice that Jason Kipnis has a seven-game hitting streak? No? Me neither. Yep, six singles, one double, no walks equals a hitting streak that caused his batting average to climb from .247 to .249. Way to go, Kip, that's exactly what we need now.