Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Slam Range

One of my most sacred Baseball Rules is "Slam range is safe."  And what I mean by that is if a team is leading by more than five runs, especially in later innings, it's pretty likely that a comeback is out of the question.  

Last night my guys proved to be the exception to that rule all I can say is....  Frankie Lindor.

Things started out pretty shaky for the Indians as starter Corey Kluber had his worst outing of the year, going only two and two-thirds innings and giving up a staggering six runs.  The Indians seemed to be out of ideas in the hitter's box, eeking out three runs in that time but stranding guys on base, even a critical bases loaded/one out situation where we failed to score.  Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton clucked his tongue and asked us to remember this inning, certain that it would be a tone-setter for the rest of the game.

And if it was any other team than the 2017 Cleveland Indians, Hammy would have been right.

With my team down 6-3 in the third inning, I asked my friend Jeryl, also a lifelong Indians fan, if Rally Tequila was a thing -- because I'd just poured myself a big glass full.  It was at least a little bit of a comfort as the score stretched to 8-3 by the 5th.  But, still, I sat there on the edge of my seat, soaking in each pitch, listening to the Cleveland crowd respond to the action, listening to the frustrated edge in Tom Hamilton and fellow announcer Jim Rosenhaus' voices, sipping my tequila and glancing forlornly at my official Jim Thome Bobblehead Doll, a gift from my college roommate Corey.  Jeryl and I wrote back and forth on Facebook, keeping each other positive, reminding ourselves that this was a best of five, that we didn't have to sweep, that our team was the comeback kind, be it in that game or in the series.

And the Indians didn't disappoint.

Enter the bottom of the sixth inning.  Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia (formerly a Cleveland starter -- so I have a lot of love left over for this teddy bear of a man) walked first baseman Carlos Santana to start things off.  Outfielder Jay Bruce lined out next and then Chad Green came on in relief.  His first act was to get outfielder Austin Jackson to fly out before giving up a double to catcher Yan Gomes after a crazy at-bat, advancing Santana to third.  Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall came on to pinch hit and got on base after being struck by a ball.  So now with the bases loaded and two out, here comes short stop Francisco Lindor.  Hammy had just finished saying that Lindor's stats with bases loaded were a piddly .100 when the young shortstop did what he'd done so many times already during his career:  he saved the day by cranking a grand slam.  Bases clear.  Four score.  Progressive Field lost its mind. 




Frankly, so did I.  I was running around my room, screaming in disbelief.  Did that just happen???

That just happened.

And Jeryl?  Jeryl quipped that maybe my Rally Tequila was working.

But as exciting as that was, Lindor's grand slam made the score 8-7 -- the Yankees still had the advantage.

No problem for the Indians, though, as our killer bullpen got the job done keeping the score as-is, allowing outfielder Jay Bruce to go ahead and tie things up with a solo shot in the 8th, driving this game deeper and deeper into extra innings until Yan Gomes came through once more in the bottom of the 13th when he hit a single down the third baseline to score Austin Jackson from 2nd base.




To say it was an exciting finish to an unreal game would be the understatement of year.  After the game, manager Terry Francona said that theirs was a team that wasn't about one or two key guys -- but that every man on the roster contributed, mattered, and delivered, day after day, and that's why they'd had the success they've had during the regular season as well as the start of this postseason.



Have I mentioned how much I love Tito and how having a calm, level head like his at the helm is the key to this team's success?  Because, hello...

As the game ended, clocking in well over five hours, my social media and my text messages erupted as a host of us all checked in on each other, giddily sharing our relief that we'd come out of this one with a "W."  The best message, though, came from my 10-year-old nephew Landon who asked if I was going to write another book about this postseason.  Last year, I put together a group of blog posts I'd written about the postseason specifically for Landon, as well as his brothers, so they could always remember that historic run, so it made my already exploding heart grow ten times in size that Landon was hoping for the sequel.  

Of course, I am a realist:  we are only two games into the 2017 postseason and there is still a lot of baseball left to play.  But if last night's game was the "tone setter" that Hammy and Rosie saw it as, I am feeling good about our chances, at least in the ALDS.  We'll worry about what's next when we get there.

Day off today, which is good.  My nerves need it.  My forearms, tight from five straight hours of hand-wringing, really need it.  Thank goodness my friends and co-workers humor my baseball fervor, especially entertained by my regaling with the tale of last night's epic come-from-behind victory, proving that not even slam-range keeps the best team out of the win-column.

What better day to sport the WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWIndians shirt?




Originally posted on the Inspired in 2017 blog on October 7, 2017.

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