The 21,307 in attendance at Progressive Field Saturday night marked the largest crowd since Opening Day, but the fans’ energy was quickly defused in the 11th inning as Adrian Beltre‘s pinch-hit three-run home run by off Joe Smith gave the Texas Rangers (18-9) a 5-2 victory over the Indians (14-11).
Derek Lowe started for the Indians and gave the team a solid six innings of work, holding Texas to two runs (both earned) on 9 hits while walking three and striking out one. The savvy veteran had to reach into his bag of tricks a number of times as he had only one 1-2-3 inning and the Rangers had multiple runners on base in four of his six innings of work.
Meanwhile, Rangers starter Derek Holland took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning thanks in part to some outstanding plays behind him, but finally hit trouble in the eighth. Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis‘ back-to-back one-out singles knocked from the game, and Rangers manager Ron Washington brought in former Tribe farmhand Mike Adams. Asdrubal Cabrera drove his second pitch into the right field corner for an RBI double. With Carlos Santana, batting Adams uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Kipnis to score to tie the game at 2-2.
Both teams’ bats were quiet until the 11th inning. Chris Gentry started it for the Rangers with a walk before being erased on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Nelson Cruz. Cruz moved into scoring position with two outs on Mike Napoli‘s groundout with Mitch Moreland due up. It was at this point where Manny Acta made one of the oddest managerial decisions I have witnessed in quite some time: He elected to have Joe Smith issue an intentional walk to Moreland so he could face Adrian Beltre, who had never had a hit off of Smith in five career plate appearances.
Beltre drove Smith’s 456 feet to straight-away center to put the Rangers ahead. Joe Nathan worked the bottom of the 11th to record his seventh save and make a winner out of Alexi Ogando as Joe Smith took the loss in the 5-2 Texas victory.
The Good: Asdrubal Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a double to improve his slash line to .333/.407/.543. Jason Kipnis’ eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to nine games. Nick Hagadone worked two scoreless innings and picked off the only player (Ian Kinsler) who reached base against him. And, of course, Derek Lowe looked solid on the mound yet again.
The Bad: Carlos Santana was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Overall, the Tribe’s Nos. 4 through 9 hitters combined to go 1-for-24 with nine strikeouts.
The Huh?: Intentionally walking anyone to get to Adrian Beltre in any circumstance is ridiculous. Then to suggest after the game to suggest that a five plate-appearance sample is what the decision was based on makes it even worse. Acta said this about the decision:
“You have to give him credit. I made the decision. I don’t second-guess myself. Some will work, some won’t, but I’ll sleep fine because I don’t second-guess myself.”
Here’s to hoping that this was one night where he lays his head on his pillow and second guesses himself to the point where we won’t ever see an intentional walk issued to a marginal hitter to bring up arguably the team’s best hitter.
Interesting Tidbit: Elvis Andrus singled to extend his hitting streak to 25 games against the Indians.