Congratulations to Ryan Raburn, who on Thursday night absolutely locked up the award for worst defensive play of the year. And it's hard to imagine anything else that happens this season will be remotely close.
To set the scene: The Indians and Royals are tied, 0-0, in the eighth inning. With one out and nobody on, Cleveland's Corey Kluber gets Kansas City's Mike Moustakas to hit a popup to left field that begins drifting foul. Raburn gives chase and, realizing he's not going to catch it on the fly, slides right at the foul line, only to have the ball bounce off his arm and off to the side for a base hit.
But as bad as that slide and flub were for Raburn, things were about to get a whole lot worse. With Moustakas heading for second, Raburn pops up, grabs the ball and fires a strike ... directly into the ground. As the ball skips its way into no-man's land in center field, an alert Moustakas heads home to score the game's first run, while Kluber can only watch with the kind of look that suggests a lot of yelling after the game.
Raburn's blunder will go down in the books as a double and an error, but really, how else do you mark that other than "outfielder-assisted inside-the-park home run?" Raburn would have been better off firing the ball over the left field wall once he picked it up. And before you ask: Yes, Ryan Raburn has a little bit of experience with turning fly balls into ludicrous-looking plays. Take this horrific attempt at a jumping catch back in 2011, when Raburn, as a member of the Tigers, gave his all on a sharply hit Miguel Olivo line drive to left, only to have it clank off his glove and over the wall for a home run.
(Bonus points to Raburn for, after missing the ball, glancing wildly around him and even into his glove before realizing he'd Canseco'd the ball over the fence.)
Raburn's error spoiled an otherwise brilliant outing from Kluber, who retired the first 19 batters he faced and ended up allowing just the one run, unearned, on two hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks. He was in line for the heartbreaking 1-0 defeat until the Indians rallied off of Royals closer Greg Holland in the ninth.
As for Raburn, he didn't get a chance to redeem himself for his breathtaking miscue, as Indians manager Terry Francona pinch-hit for him in the top of the ninth. Francona probably wishes he'd pulled Raburn just a little sooner, though.