Game #56 Observations: Indians Get Second Straight Walk Off Win, Luplow's HR Lifts Tribe to 3-2 Win Over White Sox
CLEVELAND - Walk-off wins are nothing new for the Indians against the Chicago White Sox, and Wednesday night they notched yet another dramatic win.
Jordan Luplow hit a no-doubt about it solo shot in the 9th with one out to lift the Tribe to a 3-2 win, moving the team to 32-24 on the year.
The streaky Tribe couldn’t find a win a week ago, and now they have won six of their last seven, three over the Tigers and the first three against the White Sox.
There was no letdown despite the Indians clinching on Tuesday, as the club got another good outing from ace Shane Bieber who allowed a run in five innings, and the offense got a couple key homers, one from Carlos Santana and the other from Luplow.
Bieber allowed just two hits in his five innings, and the team got a look from rookie Triston McKenzie as a reliever, and he was good for two innings not giving in to the Sox.
The Indians will look for the rare four-game sweep on Thursday night against the White Sox at 6:10pm, but for now here’s some observations from the victory on Wednesday night.
It’s been a tough season for Jordan Luplow, as he entered Wednesday’s game hitting just .190 with a homer and six runs batted in.
He was supposed to get more chances at the plate this season and was anxious to prove himself, but instead he’s struggled and now it’s been tough for him to even get playing time.
Wednesday though he got that playing time, and while he struck out in two of his first three chances at the plate, he was able to finally take advantage of it in the 9th.
With one out, Luplow worked the count against Gio Gonzalez to get to 3-0, and then the Sox pitcher grooved a 90 mile per hour fastball and Luplow didn’t miss, hitting it 388 feet to left for the win.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and get a good pitch to hit,” Luplow said after the win.
Oddly enough Luplow’s only other homer this season came against the White Sox, so maybe the coaching staff should think more about playing the 26-year-old against Chicago.
Luplow talked about being aggressive, and said that despite the count being 3-0, he had to just wait for the right pitch and take advantage of it.
“Same thing as any other count, as long as you get a good pitch to hit and it’s the right time in the game, go for it,” Luplow said.
Bieber’s Final Regular Season Start
It’s been a historic season for Indians ace Shane Bieber, who made no bones about it when it came to what pitcher was the leader of the Tribe staff now and moving forward.
From a masterful opening night effort against the Royals in which he struck out 14, to the Wednesday when he struck out 10 and held the powerful Sox lineup to one run in five innings, there are not enough words to describe just how dominating Bieber has been this season.
It’s safe to say he had better make some space on his mantel for an American League Cy Young award, as it would take a whole lot for him not to win the award at this point.
Bieber notched his eighth double-digit strikeout game on Wednesday, which is the most in all of the Majors. It was the 15th of his career.
He also redeemed himself as he had a bit of a stumble in his only other start against the White Sox back on August 9th, allowing three runs on four hits in six innings, allowing two homers and striking out eight in a no-decision during a 5-4 Indians win.
Now the Indans have their rotation set up perfectly for Bieber to get the ball first when the postseason starts on September 29th.
With a pitcher as dominant as he’s been, the Indians have every right to be confident as the playoffs get closer that they can win that first game on the road with Bieber on the mound.
“It’s a lot of fun to be part of a team with these guys, to go through what we’ve gone through and now to do what we are doing, we are clicking in all facets of the game,” Bieber said.
There very well could be a bottleneck in the AL Central by the time the season comes to a close following action on Sunday around the Majors.
What is interesting is that all three of the AL Central clubs in contention are playing NL Central teams this weekend at home.
The White Sox are hosting their interstate rival in the Chicago Cubs, who might be fighting for seeding in the National League this weekend.
The Twins are at Target Field to take on the Cincinnati Reds, a team that currently sits with the 7th seed in the National League, and a possible first-round best-of-three matchup with the Atlanta Braves.
Then there’s the Tribe, who have the most favorable matchup as they will play the Pittsburgh Pirates, who with 16 wins entering Wednesday have the worst record in all of baseball and the least amount of wins.
The Indians swept the Pirates in a three-game set earlier this season in Pittsburgh, and if they need the games will have the decided edge in all three.
So what happens if the White Sox, Twins and Indians all are tied for first come Monday morning?
Well, Major League Baseball has had to come up with some creativity this season in how they are dealing with tiebreakers, and below are two paragraphs from Mandy Bell at Indians.com on how the AL Central would play out.
If the Indians ended in a two-team tie for either first or second place in the division, the first tiebreaker would be the head-to-head record between the two teams. The Indians have already secured a winning record over the White Sox this year, but they would lose the tiebreaker to the Twins, having lost seven of 10 games.
But what if there’s a three-way tie? If the Twins, White Sox and Indians are all knotted at the top of the division leaderboard on Sunday, the tiebreaker becomes each team’s best combined record against the other two clubs. In this case, the Twins would take first place, the Indians would take second and the Sox would earn an AL Wild Card spot.
Sounds easy right? Instead of giving yourself a headache worrying about it all, it’s likely better to just let the next few days play out and see how the chips fall, and where the teams line up for the potseason.
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