Not long ago, two playoff contenders battled each other in a game of great importance. The contest was well fought, and the outcome was determined only at the very end. Yours truly covered the event in some detail, but didn’t file the report until now, some six weeks later. It occurs to me now that sooner would have been better, but as the cliché goes, hindsight is 20/20. Regardless, the particulars of that event should not be lost to history and therefore are recounted here, to remain for all to enjoy.
On a warm Tuesday evening in Cleveland, two teams met in what might be a World Series preview. The AL Central leading Indians squared off against the NL East leading Nationals in front of nearly 24,000 fans at Progressive Field. The tension was thicker than single-ply toilet paper.
In the top of the first, with Daniel Murphy at first base and a 1-1 count on Wilson Ramos, Nationals manager Dusty Baker chewed a toothpick in the dugout as first base coach Chris Speier clutched a stopwatch in his right hand and a water bottle in his left. They were ready for anything.
Leading off the bottom half, Cleveland’s Rajai Davis ended his battle against Gio Gonzalez by handing his bat and elbow pad to the batboy in exchange for a piece of equipment that appeared to offer some other form of arm protection. As it turned out, Davis did not need this protection.
Jason Kipnis doubled.
In the fourth, with Ramos on second and Jayson Werth at the plate, the Cleveland broadcasters sent birthday wishes to Gloria Mae Johnson of Brunswick and Babe Feschenko of Youngstown. Their average age is 89, which is well above average.
In the sixth, with both teams still struggling for supremacy, Ramos fouled a ball off his left leg. It hurt for a little while, but then he was okay.
In the seventh, a toothpickless Baker emerged from the dugout to remove Gonzalez. They lovingly patted each other, and in from the bullpen trotted right-hander Blake Treinen, who immediately pointed toward the sky before collecting himself and throwing pitches.
The Indians continued their assault the next inning. A frenzy of activity reached unexpected heights when Francisco Lindor and first umpire Jeff Kellogg spontaneously broke out their synchronized gum chewing exhibition. The crowd went nuts, as crowds will do when they witness such a display.
In the top of the ninth, Bryan Shaw’s first pitch managed to hit Nationals batter Danny Espinosa, Indians catcher Chris Gimenez, and home plate umpire Alan Porter. This would be considered a strike in bowling, an activity they were regrettably not engaged in at the time.
In the bottom half, Gimenez bunted a baseball toward first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who picked up the spinning spheroid and made a throw that only a mother could love. After a pitching change, Lindor stepped to the plate with a chance to be the hero. He hit a groundball. The game ended
Players on one team were jumping, hugging, and screaming all at the same time. They emptied water bottles onto one another, possibly after drinking from those very bottles. Players on the other team trudged off the field with their heads down.
The crowd cheered. Everyone went home to get ready for the next day’s rematch.
Indians first baseman Mike Napoli led all players with 10 putouts, while Espinosa’s five assists were most on either team. Washington’s Trea Turner saw 27 pitches in the game, three more than the next highest total, recorded by teammate Bryce Harper. In all, 11 pitchers were used, with Cleveland deploying six of them to Washington’s five.
Geoff Young sometimes writes things. Other times, he writes other things. You should follow him on Twitter.