The Cleveland Indians sure are making it interesting out in Oakland.
First up was Friday night, when Emmanuel Clase came in to close out the A’s in the bottom of the ninth.
He entered with a one-run lead, only to allow a walk-off home run to send fans to bed angry here in Northeast Ohio.
But Terry Francona sure does not let his guys sulk, as Clase was back on the mound Saturday with a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.
He came through this time with a 1-2-3 inning.
James Karinchak, who had his own scoreless inning Friday, was tasked with the save this time around.
He didn’t get it done easy, but the Indians walked away with the win.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) July 17, 2021
Amed Rosario saved the day as he continues to prove he is a great fit as the everyday shortstop.
Keeping Bullpen Stars Confident
Clase and Karinchak are two huge reasons why the Indians have been able to hang in there this year with so many injuries in the starting rotation.
Blown saves and losses are going to happen, so it was wise to see Francona tell Clase there was no time to linger on the Friday collapse.
That move paid off as Clase got back to his normal ways and retired the side with ease.
Switching up Clase and Karinchak, so the latter finished the game, was a smart move as well.
But those paying attention know they have gone back and forth in that ninth-inning role all year anyway.
Bryan Shaw has pitched in both games as well as the entire staff is fresh following the much-needed All-Star break.
One of the unsung heroes of the bullpen did well Saturday and may not be getting the attention he deserves.
That is Nick Sandlin, who should start to see some late-inning work with his 1.78 ERA on the year.
If Karinchak and Clase are being called upon nearly every close game, Sandlin deserves a shot to prove he can get a save as well.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 17, 2021
This win was huge after seeing Friday’s game slip away in the final moments.
In general, the Indians avoided a second-straight bullpen collapse.
In broader terms, they got the game back they lost to the A’s in the Wild Card race.
That has the Indians 4.5 games behind the A’s for the second spot, and a Chicago White Sox loss would put Cleveland seven games back in the division.
Focusing on the Wild Card race may be the safer option for now, unless the Indians gain some serious ground on Chicago thanks to a long winning streak.
The Indians bounced back and are now 46-43 on the year.
Splitting the first two games out of the break is just fine, and a series win Sunday would be monumental as the Indians prepare to head to Houston on Monday.