Indians split doubleheader with D-Backs
Walters wins first game with walk-off homer; Tribe bats go sour in game two
CLEVELAND—The Indians played two games Wednesday, but it’s the first one they will want to remember.
Just like the roller coaster of a season it's been, a twin bill with Arizona started sweet but would end sour.
When the dust settled after 21 innings of play, the Tribe and D-Backs split the doubleheader on one swing of the bat from each ball club.
One word to describe game one: Magical
Knotted in a 2-2 tie in the ninth, it was the new kid Walters that outshined his teammates when it mattered most, launching a walk-off home run to give the Indians a 3-2 victory.
“That was freaking awesome,” Walters said. “It was fun, it was a good time. I couldn’t ask for anything more in my first home game.”
The hit coming against D-Backs reliever Randall Delgado (1-3, 5.34 ERA) marked the sixth walk-off homer by the Tribe this season—the most in all of Major League Baseball.
New to the team or not, players treated Walters just like he’s been here the entire season, mobbing him at home plate and spraying him with water.
“I don’t even remember running around the bases,” he said. “If you have water in your face, you’re doing something right. It’s such a tight-knit group and great clubhouse, I’m happy to be somewhere I can play.”
Before the game-winning knock, pitching was the name of the game on both sides.
Tribe starter Trevor Bauer took a no-hitter through five innings in game one Wednesday, but ran into trouble in the sixth.
“Early on, that’s probably as good as we’ve seen him,” manager Terry Francona said. “He pitched a really good game.”
After retiring 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, the Cleveland right-hander gave up a run on a double play ball off the bat of D-Backs first baseman Jordan Pacheco, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead.
The lead would be short-lived, thanks to Indians All-Star Michael Brantley. Also held scoreless through five innings against southpaw Vidal Nuno, the left fielder lined a two-run single down the right field line to give the Wahoos a one-run lead.
Despite allowing the Diamondbacks to score the tying a half inning later in the seventh, Bauer continued to battle and look sharp as the game progressed.
Tossing a career-high eight dominant innings, the right-hander surrendered just two runs on four hits, striking out nine in a tough no-decision.
“I think he’s to the point now where he’s one of our pitchers, not just a kid,” Francona said.
Acquired from Arizona in the winter of 2012, Bauer noted he didn't have any bad blood toward his former club.
“That was two years ago, I’ve longed since moved on from all that,” he said. “To me it was just another team and nine more hitters to try and get out. It was definitely one of my better ones command-wise.”
Two words to describe game two: Missed opportunities
To say the Indians had chances to win the nightcap of the doubleheader may be an understatement.
After a tenuous 12-inning affair, the D-Backs edged the sluggish Tribe, 1-0 in game two.
“We just needed to cash in once, and we couldn’t do it,” Francona said. “When you’re playing a game like that and you’re at home, you feel like you have a pretty good shot.”
Offensively, Cleveland went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 on base.
They had chances to score late, but were held off the scoreboard by five Arizona pitchers, one of them former Kent State standout Andrew Chafin.
Making his big league debut, the D-Backs left-hander went five shutout innings against his hometown team.
Tribe starter Josh Tomlin fared just as well, tossing 5 1/3 innings of scoreless ball on just four hits. He however would exit in the sixth, having thrown just 51 pitches.
“I kind of thought I would be on some sort of pitch count,” Tomlin said. “I felt good and I was able to command the ball on both sides of the plate. I think that’s why the pitch count was down so low, the defense made great plays.”
“I didn’t know I had it until I looked in my glove,” Raburn said. “I gave it everything I had, and I’m just lucky I came down with it.”
At the time it looked like Raburn’s play may have saved the game, as Arizona had a runner on second and one out in the sixth.
Holt played a good center field as well, also collecting four hits in eight at-bats in both games.
“Tyler played a couple of good games,” Francona said. “He gets really good jumps on balls in the outfield, especially in center field. He’s so aggressive that you could play him anywhere in the outfield.”
“All that matters in the win column,” Holt said. “It’s good to get that out of the way for a personal goal, but we would’ve liked to have that second game too. It’s a dream come true, but you just want to win. I wasn’t expecting the day I had, but the nerves were gone and I felt like I belonged here.”
Losing the ballgame in game one, Delgado notched his second win of the season in the second game throwing an inning out of the bullpen.
Despite a split, Cleveland (60-60) falls 5 1/2 games in back of first place Detroit in the American League Central, while also dropping to five behind for the second Wild Card seed.
“It’s a long day,” Raburn said. “We pulled one off in the first game and we battled our hearts out in the second game, we just came out a bit short. You hate going 12 innings without scoring a run, but that’s a big league ball club over there too. We held them down for 11 innings without one. For morale, we played two good games.”
Up next for Indians: After an off day Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles (68-50) invade Cleveland to open up a three-game weekend series beginning Friday. Tribe ace Corey Kluber (13-6, 2.46 ERA) is set to start the series opener against Orioles southpaw Wei-Yin Chen (12-4, 3.90 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.