Indians 3 Reds 2: Asdrubal Blasts Tribe Into First Place

Asdrubal Cabrera

He owed us after Sunday’s three-error debacle. He knew it, we all knew it. And with one mighty swing of the bat, Asdrubal Cabrera got his redemption.

A long night of ill-fated run-scoring opportunities looked like a painful loss as the Indians headed to the bottom of the 10th inning. Tribe starter Josh Tomlin was long gone at this point, despite putting together a solid performance for six and two-thirds innings (one run on six hits).  Gone too were the Tribe’s “Big Three” in the bullpen, Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez. All had entered the game and had been replaced. Also missing was the air that had come out of Progressive Field after the Reds scored a run in the top of the 10th thanks to two wild pitches with two outs from left-hander Nick Hagadone (the second of which Carlos Santana has to come up with in that spot. Breaking balls in the dirt happen all the time).

Reds flame-throwing close Aroldis Chapman entered the game with a 1.06 ERA. He had 59 strikeouts in 34 innings and lefties were just 4-41 against him. The odds certainly didn’t seem in the Wahoos favor. 

However, with one out, Shin-Soo Choo laced a single to right-center (his third hit of the night), and the Indians had some life. Then Cabrera came to the plate.

“In that situation, I’m not thinking to pull the ball,” Cabrera said. “He has a really good fastball. It’s tough to pull that ball. I’m just thinking, ‘Hit the ball the other way.'”

Asdrubal knew that Sunday’s game was on him. His three errors – all with two out – were directly responsible for seven of the Pirates nine runs that day and completely changed the course of that game. Here was his chance to make it all right again. That is just what he did.

The switch-hitting Cabrera got ahead in the count 3-1 and took Chapman’s next pitch deep to right field for a walk-off two-run homer that vaulted his team back into first place. It was a thing of beauty.

“This guy is our best hitter,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He’s proven that. He’s got the discipline at the plate. He gives you a quality at-bat, and he uses the whole field — that’s why he’s so good.”

The Tribe needed a shot in the arm like this badly too. They spent most of the night failing to get a big hit when they had the chances, going 1-12 with runners in scoring position. Three of those chances came for the horrifically ineffective left field duo of Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham. (I must say I cannot understand the fact that Cunningham came into a tie game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. You just knew his spot in the lineup would come around in a key situation. It did, and Cunningham K’d looking with the winning run on second with two out in the ninth).

Also needing to be mentioned was the big time stones move from Acta in the seventh. The score was tied 1-1 and Tomlin had just walked Todd Frazier to load the bases with two out. We have seen “The Little Cowboy” (as Acta calls him) enough to know that he does his best work three times through the order. He was clearly tiring at this point and Acta emerged from the dugout to go to his pen. He called for the right-hander. Was it Smith? Nope. Pestano? Try again. Esmil Rogers.

Wait…what? Esmil Rogers? He of the four appearances with this Indians and the 8.06 ERA in Colorado?

Yep. That guy. Acta was looking for a strikeout of rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco. He got it from Rogers. It was an incredibly gutsy call by the Tribe manager, but as I said before, outside of his big three, he’s getting nothing from the others. Why not try a guy with a 96 MPH fastball and hope for the best?

In the meantime, the Cubs beat the White Sox again last night, moving the Indians back into first place at 35-32. They are also now over .500 at home for the first time in seemingly ages at 19-18. The Wahoos now go for the sweep tonight and try to tie things up for the Ohio Cup at 7:05.  It will be Justin Masterson (3-6, 4.38 ERA) going for the Indians. The big right-hander is coming off of his best start since opening day, a scoreless seven-innings of work where he struck out nine Friday against Pittsburgh. The Reds will counter with Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 3.84 ERA).

(photo via Chuck Crow/PD)

  • nj0

    As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.

    What? They’re giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, if anything, you owe them.

  • REEPJP

    Chapman was taking forever between pitches and worrying too much about Choo on 1st…I think this, plus the fact that AsCab called time the pitch before the HR, Chapman threw it to the backstop, and his catcher was visibly yelling at him telling him to focus on the batter gave him the “I’ll show him” mentality and let Asdrubal sit fastball (not that he wouldn’t be with Chapman anyways)…BOOM!

  • Harv 21

    If we keep tonight’s game close a sweep is within reach, given the Reds’ closer issues. Chapman now has a mini-string of bad appearances. Better yet, he only wants to throw his fastball, that pitch was down from 98 mph to 94 last night, our better hitters used a solid patient approach to work into good counts and Dusty Baker is too stubborn to replace him until they figure out what’s wrong.

  • Harv 21

    also, anyone else notice a problem with the pic above – where is Love Machine? The home plate celebration was his specialty. He must feel career’s end is nigh, and is having trouble accessing party mode.

  • mgbode

    if we tie the season-series, then do we keep the Ohio Cup?

    also, what is considered greater: the GLC or the Ohio Cup? the GLC has a much richer history (including a true rivalry in the 50s between the teams), but it takes place in the preseason. the Ohio Cup at least takes place with games that count in the standings.

  • mgbode

    Individually, it is relatively inexpensive for the hours of entertainment that MLB provides, yes. However, collectively, we are paying the millions of dollars in baseball salaries and team profits.

  • Garry_Owen

    Anyone else notice that Cabrera, as he was rounding 2nd on his HR trot, pointed to someone in the outfield? I’m dying (figuratively) to know who he was pointing to. It looked something like a taunt, and I oh so hope that it was. I want this Reds/Indians rivalry to boil up into a regular feud (in honor of West Virginia day today – bet you didn’t know that). It could have just as easily been a celebratory point to a pitcher coming out of the bullpen for the celebration, but I don’t want it to be. Can we manufacture a story that he was taunting the Reds outfielders? Please?

  • Harv 21

    I saw that and first assumed he was pointing back at the fans saluting him in right field where the ball landed. Also wondered if he was teasing one of the Reds’ players he knows in the outfield or bullpen, or thanking them for tipping us off to the Reds’ signs.
    Apropos of little, one of the most touching fan/player interactions I’ve seen was the standing “we’re not worthy” salute the fans in the right field bleachers at Wrigley used to give Andre Dawson as he ran toward them into his position at the start of every game, and his cap tip back.

  • mgbode

    man.in.white.

    seems that Reds pitchers like to make excuses, so expect this one to take off from here :)

  • Steve

    This.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Good win, big win, solid pitching and much more will be needed given the way other AL teams seem to have awakened. If there was ever a season for the front office to go out and make some moves at the trade deadline this is it. Unfortunately I’m sure a Sizemore return will be the Indians answer just like in the offseason.

  • Natedawg86

    I saw that as well and was wondering the same thing. I watched him talk in the post game but he did not bring it up. Did you see that indians fan yelling at the cincy fan after the HR? https://twitter.com/Mr_Dynamite_10/status/215272556247265281/photo/1/large