Player of the Game
Mark Reynolds' solo home run earned him his third Player of the Game tonight, just edging out a number of other players. A walk late in the game pushed him over the edge as Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley each were out in their three at bats in which they didn't knock in a run. It is Reynolds first award in almost a month.
The Nationals hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, but the Indians matched them in the fourth with Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds each hitting two out, solo home runs. The home run for Reynolds was his first in 15 games.
Progressive Field was filled with Jason Kipnis supporters who were wearing his number 22 jersey that was a free give away today. He didn't disappoint as he knocked in the first Indians run of the day and hit a single and walked in his other two at bats.
It's hard to believe that the a team able to come back against Jordan Zimmermann after their own starter was knocked out in the third inning recently lost 16 of 20 games. In the past four games, the Indians offense has returned and the bullpen has become its dominant self again. These are the Indians biggest strengths this year and they were mostly absent during the long losing spell. The middle of the lineup played particularly well tonight with Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Mark Reynolds each knocking in runs.
The Indians bullpen deserves a ton of credit for keeping the game close tonight as Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw pitched the next 3.1 innings after Scott Kazmir was removed. Those two pitchers were able to go that distance without allowing a run and giving up just a single hit. They were able to provide the length needed to get to normal late inning relievers. Cody Allen also threw a scoreless inning before Joe Smith gave up a solo home run to Chad Tracy to tie the game.
The Indians were going to have a tough time winning the game against the Nationals top pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann anyway, but Scott Kazmir made things much more difficult, by giving up five runs in less than three innings. Kazmir gave up three solo home runs in the first two innings and allowed a couple more runs in the third after walking three and allowing a double.
The late inning relievers were not able to hold up to the impressive outings earlier in the game. Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith each allowed solo home runs (the Nationals had 5 total in the game) that tied the game and gave up the lead. Pestano actually allowed an unearned home run as the hit came immediately after Nick Swisher dropped an Anthony Rendon foul ball.
Down just a single run in the ninth, Jason Giambi and Ryan Raburn each struck out looking to start the inning. The ninth inning is not the time to challenge the umpire into calling a pitch a strike. Especially as a run producer like Giambi, he can't take anything close in that situation.
Lonnie Update: Lonnie Chisenhall has raised his AAA batting average to .381 thanks partly to a 4-5 effort against the Gwinnett Braves. He now has six home runs and 25 RBI since his demotion as he is absolutely crushing all International League opponents. Also, impressively, he has struck out at a similar pace as his Major League season this year, but has quadrupled his walks. This most likely shows a consistent knowledge of the strike zone and the difference is made up by the lack of control in AAA pitchers. The Indians may have forgotten about Lonnie, but Burning River Baseball never will.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 6 - Washington Nationals 7