CLEVELAND: The Indians’ defense faltered on the final day before the All-Star break in an 11-7 loss to the New York Yankees.
The Indians committed three errors and had an egregious missed catch that all proved costly. All 11 runs allowed followed an Indians error as the Yankees took advantage of the extra opportunities.
The Indians will enter the break at 52-36, coming off a series in which they committed multiple mental mistakes and a couple of defensive miscues, things that for the most part hadn’t been evident in their torrid first half.
“We kicked some balls around, we made some mistakes and they took advantage of it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
In the second inning, Carlos Santana couldn’t handle Francisco Lindor’s throw across the diamond that scored a run to put the Yankees on top 1-0. Austin Romine then doubled to right field on a ball that glanced off Lonnie Chisenhall’s glove. With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a three-run home run to right-center field that made it 4-0.
An error by Jose Ramirez in the fourth eventually led to a run that extended the Yankees’ lead to 5-1.
The biggest one came an inning later with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (3⅔ innings, five earned runs, five hits, four strikeouts) already out of the game.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Chase Headley grounded a ball to Lindor. Lindor looked to home and then tried to quickly throw to second but instead tossed it into right field, allowing two runs to score.
The Yankees followed with five singles and two sacrifice flies to make it a six-run fifth inning. The last four singles all came against TJ House, who relieved Jeff Manship.
“That inning, the floodgates kind of opened,” Francona said. “It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.”
Trailing 11-1, the Indians answered with a six-run inning of their own against Masahiro Tanaka. An RBI double by Lindor and an RBI single by Ramirez made it 11-3 before the Indians took advantage of the first defensive mistake for the Yankees.
With two on, Rajai Davis grounded a ball to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who threw it away to score two and extend the inning. Tyler Naquin followed with his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot, to make it 11-7.
But from there, the comeback halted, the defensive miscues too much to overcome.
“You can’t play perfect baseball every single day,” Naquin said. “Nothing uncharacteristic at all. Errors are bound to happen. Strikeouts are bound to happen. Anything is bound to happen. That’s all the way through baseball.”
It was a poor day to end a strong first half for a team that in the Francona era has had to frantically try to make up ground in the second half of the season.
For now, the Indians enjoy a 6½-game lead in the American League Central.
“It’s fun. We’ve always tried to push in August and September to make that run, to put pressure on people,” Chisenhall said. “We’re in a little different position right now where we can win some games, step on the gas pedal and stretch it farther. This second half’s going to be important for us. We spent a lot of time on the road in June and we did well. The second half’s going to be fun.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ