Second Thoughts Game #48: Indians 8, Orioles 7
Tribe wins fourth straight with second consecutive 13-inning victory
Maybe 13 has become a new lucky number for the Indians. On Thursday, they racked up their fourth straight victory an their second consecutive win in 13 innings of play as they overcame more poor defense to defeat the Orioles 8-7.
Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall were among the key contributors in the win. Heck, even John Axford had a solid outing to keep the O's in check.
With this win and another loss by the Tigers, the Indians have picked up another game in the division to decrease the deficit to six and a half games. Plus, by defeating Baltimore, the Tribe also picked up half a game in the wild card race to put them only two games back.
Player of the Game: Carlos Santana (2-for-6, 2B, 2 RBI, R, K).
It's been a while since we've been able to say Carlos Santana played a key role in a Tribe victory, but his clutch RBI double in the 13th inning couldn't have come at a better time with a frustrated defense and a bullpen running on fumes. He also managed to redeem himself for an errant throw in the seventh inning, which eventually led to a run scoring.
A game like this is certainly nice to see considering the magnitude of his struggles at the plate so far this season. The question is will he continue to start at third base with the errors now occurring more frequently as of late and Lonnie Chisenhall continuing to make the most of the limited opportunities he's been given off the bench?
It would be nice to see if Santana can string together a few of these solid performances at the plate.
The Grit is Back
Since the Tigers rolled into town, something appears to have clicked for the Tribe as far as not giving in if or when they fall behind in a game. Maybe letting the A's roll over them in the previous series was a wakeup call? Regardless, it seems this ballclub has rediscovered some of the grit and resilience that was at the root of their success last season. Forcing three extra innings games in their last four has helped lead to four straight wins, including a key series sweep of the Tigers.
Six times during the last four games, the opposition has taken a lead on the Tribe and all six times, they have battled back to tie or take the lead within two innings.
Considering the team's struggles with runners in scoring position so far this season, this is certainly nice to see and hopefully the start of a trend that will last for a while.
The good news is the Indians have won four games in a row. The bad news is they've taxed their pitching staff to the point of disrupting their starting rotation. Of course, the four wins are worth it, especially with three of them coming against division-leading Detroit, but to be using their bullpen this extensively in May is not a good recipe for long-term success.
Following Thursday's extra-inning victory, the Tribe bullpen has now logged the third most innings in the league at 158.1. They are fourth in ERA at 3.18 and second in strikeouts at 157, so they have been successful despite being overworked. However, will they be able to sustain this productivity over the next four months?
The bottom line is the starting rotation needs to log more innings, but a rainout wouldn't be entirely unwelcome right now.
Up next: Indians (23-25) vs. Orioles (23-22) @ Camden Yards. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.
T.J. House will make his big league debut as a starter on Friday for the Tribe as he fills in the currently vacant role in the rotation due to Josh Tomlin pitching out of the bullpen on Wednesday and Zach McAllister being placed on the DL. The left-hander has already made one appearance out of the bullpen without allowing any runs and has pitched well in AAA this season going 1-2 with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts.
Bud Norris has been solid for the Orioles so far this season as he has gone 2-4 with a 3.58 ERA. He pitched very well in his last start despite being handed the loss allowing only a run on four hits in seven and a third innings of work. The right-hander made his first and only career start against the Tribe last season and allowed only one run in seven innings of work, which was good enough to earn him the win.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
House has to go far tonight good or bad. Hopefully good.
I think he's 2-for-5 against lefties this year.