Indians rally for 8–6 win, will host Yankees in Wild Card Round
The Indians came into today with huge seeding implications. With a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Chicago White Sox loss, they would be the four seed and host the wild card round Tuesday. A Tribe loss or White Sox win would make them the seven seed and play the opening round on the road.
The stakes were clear, and the Indians delivered behind a huge rally from the top of the lineup, winning 8–6. Combined with the White Sox loss to the Chicago Cubs, the Tribe will open the postseason at home and play host to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
The Indians went with bullpen day to let their relievers get in some work in the final regular season game, turning to Cal Quantrill as the opener. Quantrill went three strong innings, giving up four hits, no walks, and two runs with one earned and two strikeouts on 35 pitches, with 25 of them for strikes. He didn’t factor into the decision.
The Indians threatened in the first with two down and runners on second and third, but couldn’t capitalize yet again on the threat, a theme that they’ve run into the entire series against the Bucs.
In the second inning with two down, the Indians defense reared its ugly head as Carlos Santana and Cesar Hernandez both converged on a pop up and Santana dropped it, leading to an error and JT Riddle reaching and then scoring on a Jose Osuna base knock.
Ke’Bryan Hayes continued his hot tear to end the year, hitting a single in the first before smashing his fifth homer of the year in the third inning on a 1–1 pitch 394 feet.
The Indians offense finally got a jump start in the third inning from Carlos Santana. Santana, who has underperformed this season, smashed a two run, 445-foot home run to the bullpen in center field, scoring Jose Ramirez to knot the game at two apiece. The homer was Sanatna’s 216th in a Tribe uniform, tying him with Hal Trotsky for fifth most in club history.
Pirates right fielder Jose Osuna homered off Cam Hill in the fifth to put the Pirates back on top 3–2. Osuna continued to be a thorn in Cleveland’s side since the series began, having singled and delivered the home run before a one out double in the sixth inning.
The Bucs only widened the Indians margin to try and rally from behind yet again with a two-run double by Adam Frazier to give Pittsburgh a 6–2 cushion off of Nick Wittgren.
The Tribe Offense still had some magic left in it, as Franmil Reyes countered with a three run, 415-foot moonshot to the center field bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, scoring Ramirez and Santana to pull within a run at 6–5.
With Josh Naylor and Jordan Luplow striking out, Roberto Perez and Oscar Mercado came up with back to back singles, with Mercado snapping an 0-for-19 slump and bringing up star shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Lindor grounded out and continued a horrible year for him with runners in scoring position in what may likely be his last season in a Cleveland uniform before a possible trade in the offseason.
But that wasn’t the end of the magic. Cesar Hernandez reached base via hit by pitch in the bottom of the seventh, followed up by a Ramirez double with no outs.
Carlos Santana then delivered some more magic, hitting a double into the right field gap to give the Indians a 7–6 edge with the Cubs beating the White Sox. Franmil Reyes followed that up with an insurance run, knocking in Santana.
Closer Brad Hand came into the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth for the save, finishing the regular season with 16 saves, one hold and no blown saves on the year to close out a miraculous finish that some thought near impossible following an eight game losing streak earlier in the month, only to win seven of their final eight games and clinch the fourth seed.
Taxi Squad catcher gets a crack
With Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings scratched late with a concussion, Andrew Susac was called upon to start and play in his first Major League game since 2018 when he played in nine games for the Orioles.
Susac, a former 2011 second round pick of the Giants, has been on the Pirates taxi squad all season and being rewarded with the team having nothing to lose after being inactive for the whole season.
Tribe Wild Card Rotation Set
When the postseason starts on Tuesday against the New York Yankees, the Indians rotation will be Shane Bieber for Game One versus Gerrit Cole Tuesday, Carlos Carrasco in Game 2 Wednesday and then Zach Plesac on Thursday for Game 3, if necessary.