May 11, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin (43) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tribe Hangs On for Series Win


 

Tomlin Strong, Gomes/Morgan Provide Power

The Indians were able to leave St. Petersburg on Sunday with a series win, but not without a nail-biter of an eighth inning.  After falling behind early, the Tribe took advantage of some early opportunities and hammered out a few insurance runs that they would be grateful for in the later innings.  Yan Gomes and Nyjer Morgan each hit home runs, and Josh Tomlin came out throwing strikes again en route to yet another quality start for the Cleveland Indians rotation.

Key Innings

Top of the 2nd, Indians trail 0-1

David Murphy started the inning off by grounding out to the left side of the infield, but after a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera and a single by Yan Gomes, the Tribe had runners at first and third with one out.  Nyjer Morgan, the Tribe’s MVP of the day, capitalized on the opportunity in a strange way.  He chopped an “excuse me single” along the left side of the infield that rolled no more than two thirds of the way down the line, barely staying fair.  Cabrera was able to hustle home, and Morgan was credited with an infield single.  Mike Aviles then popped out on the infield, but Michael Bourn decided the inning wasn’t over yet.  He ripped a pitch into deep right field for a double that plated both Gomes and Morgan, giving the Tribe a 3-1 lead.  Lonnie Chisenhall then grounded out to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th, Indians lead 6-2

To kick off what would turn out to be a very long inning for the Tribe, Ben Zobrist drew a walk off of reliever Marc Rzepczynski.  Scrabble came back to strike out Matt Joyce swinging, but then gave up a single to Evan Longoria that pushed Zobrist to third.  James Loney followed by hitting an infield ground ball that should have turned into an inning-ending double-play, but an ugly throwing error pulled Asdrubal Cabrera off the bag and allowed everyone to reach safely as Zobrist came home to score.  Cody Allen came on to replace Rzepczynski, but immediately game up a single to Wil Myers that plated Longoria, and followed by hitting Desmond Jennings on the arm with a pitch to load the bases.  A sacrifice fly by Yunel Escobar brought Loney home, but Allen struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Hanigan swinging to escape any further trouble.

The Positives

Tomlin was solid again, giving the Indians just what they needed.  Nyjer Morgan had another fantastic day, playing his heart out to earn 3 hits in 4 at-bats while driving in 2 runs.  He’s now batting .341 on the year with a .429 on-base percentage.  Bryan Shaw looked great in the ninth, and if it weren’t for Rzepczynski’s error in the 8th inning, the Tribe bullpen would have put up a clean set of zeroes.  Yan Gomes is making good on his contract, belting his fifth homer today and bumping his slugging percentage to a respectable .473.  Carlos Santana also reached base in 4 out of his 5 at-bats, including a double.  Hopefully he starts breaking out of his slump soon.

The Negatives

After the error by Rzepczynski, the Tribe bullpen had trouble limiting the damage.  David Murphy continued his mini-slump with an 0-for-3 day.  And though the Indians scored 6 runs, they had a lot more opportunities, going only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  They need to start getting those key hits with more consistency.

Check It Out

-Nick Swisher was given the day off after being given the option by manager Terry Francona.

-Today was Lonnie Chisenhall’s first appearance in the #2 spot this year.

-Nyjer Morgan hit his first major-league home run since July of 2012.

-In his past month of play, Carlos Santana has had nearly as many multi-hit games as one-hit games.

-The bottom third of the Tribe’s lineup combined for six of their twelve hits.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Josh Tomlin Nyjer Morgan