After taking a 6-5 lead in somewhat dramatic fashion in the bottom of the fifth, the Indians hoped their bullpen could navigate through a tricky Nationals lineup and close out the game. It wasn’t meant to be. The bullpen came up short and a costly defensive mistake was the catalyst for the Nationals to take the game.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Tribe. Scott Kazmir, who has been solid but not spectacular in 2013, faltered within the first three innings. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth both homered in the top of the first to put the Nationals up 2-0. In the second, Ian Desmond got in on the fun by homering to left. Then in the third, Adam LaRoche grounded into a double play that scored Anthony Rendon. Kazmir was pulled and it was up to the bullpen to get things back under control.
In the bottom of the third the Indians decided it was their turn to do some scoring. Jason Kipnis put the Indians on the board with an RBI single to score Mike Aviles. In the bottom of the fourth, Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds hit back to back home runs. The home runs were their 9th and 14th on the year respectively. Reynolds’ home run also a 14-game homerless drought.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, the Indians went up 6-5. With Aviles and Kipnis aboard, Nick Swisher delivered an RBI single back up the box to center. The single cut Washington’s lead to 5-4. The next batter up for the Indians, the ever reliable Michael Brantley, drilled a double to right that short hopped the wall. Both Kipnis and Swisher scored on the play to give the Indians a 6-5 lead heading into the sixth.
The lead would hold until the eighth.
With two out and no one on in the top of the eighth, Chad Tracy pinch his for Chris Marrero. The move paid off. Tracy drilled an elevated fastball to deep center field. And when I say this pitch was elevated, it was up near his eyes. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap and move on.
In the top of the ninth Terry Francona brought out Vinnie Pestano to get the Tribe to the bottom of the ninth. With two out Anthony Rendon stepped to the plate. On the first pitch of his at bat, he popped up to the right side, just behind the first base bag. Swisher and Kipnis went back to snag it, but a gross miscommunication occurred. As a result, the ball dropped between them in foul territory and gave Rendon new life. Two pitches later, it came back to bite the Tribe. Rendon hit Pestano’s 1-1 offering to right, barely clearing the wall, to give the Nationals the 7-6 lead that would prove to be the game winner.
The Indians threatened in the bottom of the ninth. Mike Aviles doubled with two outs to put the tying run into scoring position. Michael Bourn then hit a sharp liner to the right side of the infield, but it was right at first baseman Adam LaRche for the third out to end the game.
With the loss, the Indians record once again fell below .500 at 33-34. They now trail the division leading Tigers by 4.5 in the Central. The Indians will look to get back on track today as they take on Stephen Strasburg. Corey Kluber will take the mound for the Tribe. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
The Good: The Indians offense looks like it’s beginning to come back to life. Hopefully the home runs by Santana and Reynolds are a sign of things to come. The Indians could really benefit from both players getting hot.
The Bad: Scott Kazmir. Only 2.2 innings and 5 runs allowed. That’s not good. The Indians were able to rebound and get the lead back, but even still, Kazmir has to be better than that.
The “Huh?”: The miscommunication that occurred in the top of the ninth between Swisher and Kipnis. Regardless of what happened, the responsibility on that play is Kipnis’. As the second baseman he has a better angle on the play and he takes priority over Swisher on that type of play. If Swisher called him off, he certainly gets blame for then not committing to the play, but ultimately Kipnis needs to take charge and go after the ball.