Indians take down Reds 7-1, keep Ohio Cup
Tribe offense erupts in fourth inning as Kazmir pitches a gem
The Ohio Cup will be staying in Cleveland after the Indians took down their state rival Cincinnati Reds for the second straight night, 7-1.
Thursday’s series finale with the Reds can be summed up in one inning: the Tribe’s fourth inning. Cleveland bats caught fire in the inning, scoring all seven of their runs in the ballgame in frame off Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey.
Retiring nine of the first 11 hitters though three innings, Bailey (3-4, 3.84 ERA) could not escape the fourth, giving up seven runs on seven hits in just 3.2 innings.
With the game scoreless, the Tribe’s two-out rally started with Michael Brantley’s RBI single to give the Wahoos their first run of the game.
“He has really good hands,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Brantley. "He just stays through the ball and has a pretty swing, especially when he stays through the ball and hits the ball hard the other way.”
For the Indians left fielder, hitting with two outs means nothing in the batter’s box.
“Nothing at all,” Brantley said. "I don’t change anything or choke up or try and slap it. I have great confidence within myself really to put a good swing on the ball.”
Like Brantley (aka Dr. Smooth), the next six hitters in the Tribe lineup also put some good swings on the ball, enough to rack up seven runs on seven hits in the inning.
Tribe hitters weren’t done. Up 3-0 with runners on second and third, center fielder Michael Bourn got into the hitting act with a two-run double down the left field line. Double play duo Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis rounded outthe seven run offensive spark with an RBI single and double, putting the game away early.
All seven of the Indians runs in the fourth inning came with two outs as the team leads all of Major League Baseball having scored 119 of their 264 runs on the year with two outs.
“I think hitting is contagious,” Brantley said. “That was a big two-out rally we had and our momentum was great. It was a total team effort.”
Cleveland also improves to 22-6 when scoring the game’s first run.
Getting the early seven-run cushion was Indians starter Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13 ERA). The left-hander was brilliant through seven innings, yielding just one run on eight hits, walking one and striking out five. Winless in four starts on the road, the left-hander moves to an undefeated 3-0 in four starts at Progressive Field with a 3.68 ERA.
“It felt good to be able to attack the strike zone still going into the seventh inning,” Kazmir said. "Now that it’s documented, getting into that seventh inning today really means a lot.”
For the 29-year old, it was his longest outing in a ballgame since May 22, 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Angles.
“I was really, really impressed,” Francona said of his starter. “It seemed like from the first pitch of the game he stuck his fastball, located it and was so aggressive.”
“It feels good to be able to stretch it out that much and to be able to get quick outs like we did tonight,” Kazmir said.
The Tribe lefty finished the game with 66 of his 93 pitches for strikes as he pounded the strike zone all night. Thursday also marked the fourth time that Gomes has caught Kazmir this season. With the rookie Gomes catching, Kazmir is now 2-0 in four starts with a 3.86 ERA.
“Anytime we can keep Santana’s bat in the lineup and not have him catch, it’s like saving gas in a tank,” Francona said.
Going 3-for-4 in the ballgame with an RBI, the Indians are now 13-5 in 18 games Gomes has started behind the plate.
Having dropped the first two in the series at Great American Ballpark earlier this week, the Tribe stayed red hot at home splitting the season series with Cincy 2-2.
“It was really nice,” Brantley said of the team keeping the Ohio Cup. “It was like an NBA series with both teams getting home field advantage, so it was nice to win these two at home.”
Cleveland (29-24) is now 15-4 in their last 19 games at Progressive Field, moving just a half game in back of the first place Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division.
Notes: Raburn left the game in the fifth inning with lower leg cramping; he is considered day-to-day….The Tribe have now won nine straight games at Progressive Field against Cincinnati dating back to May 23, 2010.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thought I had was that perhaps they must think him so shaky at that position that they haven't had the confidence to trot him out there. Or they didn't want to distract him and disturb his mojo by putting that pressure on him to take on another role. But also, he's apparently playing so well behind the plate that they've focused on using him there exclusively.
Though with Chis out of the picture they could put him at 3rd from time to time, let Reynolds DH, keep Swisher and his D at first and Santana's bat in the line-up at catcher and still allow for a defensive substitution late in a game with Gomes behind the plate and Aviles in at 3rd. Might not be bad to try out and if he passes the test, utilize him there once or maybe even twice a week. I'm starting to really feel like he may be the real thing.
Clearly his bat will force his way into the lineup one way or another. And that's exciting. Yes, quite a steal indeed! :)
Lets face it Gomes is a much better defensive catcher than Santana.