The Indians and Reds are going in different directions after Monday’s 4-2 Cincinnati win at Great American Ball Park. The Reds have won six of their last seven and 13 of their last 16, while Cleveland has dropped six of its last seven games.
The Indians chose to pitch to Joey Votto in the eighth inning with one out and Zack Cozart on third and the game tied 2-2. Manager Terry Francona had left-hander Nick Hagadone, called up from Triple-A Columbus today to take the roster spot of Chris Perez, on the mound. He could have walked Votto intentionally to set up a possible double play but instead worked carefully to Votto. Just not careful enough.
“It was supposed to be a fastball away, which it was. It was a little up,” said Hagadone.
Said Francona: “Tough assignment for anybody but that shows the confidence we have in (Hagadone). His stuff is so good. Situationally, we want to try to pound Votto in but we didn’t. You don’t want to let him get his arms extended there but that’s learning of a young pitcher. We were trying to get him going in and he wasn’t comfortable doing that. A pitcher has to pitch to a comfort zone, but we didn’t want to let him get his arms extended.”
Aroldis Chapman set the Indians down in order in the ninth inning to record his 13th save of the season. He struck out Asdrubal Cabrera to start the inning and Carlos Santana to end the game, both looking. In between, Chapman and Nick Swisher exchanged words and stares after Chapman twice threw fastballs that went to the backstop. The Indians’ dugout didn’t like what it saw.
“I know you guys are trying to stir some stuff up here but the first one I saw go by I was like ‘Wow, that’s pretty quick.’ That second one was a little too close for comfort for me, let’s be honest,” said Swisher. “A hundred miles an hour at somebody’s head that’s not exactly the best thing but either way it was nice to see all of those guys in the dugout have my back. I do know that if something does happen I know they’re going to be right behind me.”
Swisher eventually lined out to deep left field, getting a good piece of Chapman’s fastball. The two exchanged a couple of more words as Swisher went back to the dugout.
Reds’ manager Dusty Baker didn’t make anything more of the situation than the heat of the moment.
“Have you never seen Chapman throw a ball to the screen? Happens a lot, doesn’t it?” said Baker.
With three more games left in this series – Tuesday night in Cincinnati and then Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland – this will be something to watch.
“You never know,” said Cleveland’s Jason Giambi. “That kid, God gifted him with an unbelievable arm. The first one to the backstop, and then the second one? We just wanted to make sure there was nothing. I’ve talked to Chapman plenty of times. He’s a great kid but we’re going to have to protect our guys, too. Especially Nick, who is a big leader on this ball club, just to let him know they we’ve got your back. But I don’t think there is anything to it.”
Lost in the late-inning drama was the fact that starters Mike Leake and Ubaldo Jimenez both pitched outstanding games while not being involved in the decision.
Jimenez allowed two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts and four walks in seven innings for the Tribe, while Leake went 7 1/3 innings before being relieved after Giambi’s 467-foot solo homer tied the game in the top of the eighth. Leake gave up five hits and had his streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings stopped in the fourth inning when the Indians scored an unearned run.