Indians 6, Diamondbacks 2
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Mar. 4) – A big third inning, capped off by a three-run homer by Francisco Lindor, piloted the Cleveland Indians to a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday afternoon in Cactus League play.
Indians Take Early Lead
The Indians got on the board early against left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who was making his second spring start. This came thanks to a one-out triple to the right field corner by second baseman Mike Freeman on a hanging curveball in the top of the first. He came home on a sacrifice fly to left by the next batter, center fielder Delino DeShields. They managed no more runs that inning, as catcher Roberto Perez followed with a foul fly to right.
The scoring resumed in the third when the Indians batted around. Left fielder Greg Allen led off with a walk. Up next came third baseman Christian Arroyo, who ripped a hot grounder to third. Eduardo Escobar made a diving stop but couldn’t come up with the ball, so instead of a 5-4-3 double play, everyone was safe.
That brought up shortstop Francisco Lindor. (Author’s Note: Barry Bloom (@Boomskie) of Forbes told this author and Jack Sommers of AZ Snake Pit, “Watch Lindor hit it halfway up the berm” as he came to the plate.) On the third pitch, Bumgarner threw a slider that Lindor turned on before it could break. It landed halfway up the berm beyond the left-field fence for a back-breaking three-run homer.
Two hitters later, Perez hit a single to left that ended Bumgarner’s outing. Minor leaguer Kevin McCanna took the mound and struck out the first batter he faced – first baseman Jake Bauers – but a passed ball on the third strike by catcher Carson Kelly allowed Bauers to reach first and keep the inning alive. Consecutive walks by designated hitter Jordan Luplow and right fielder Daniel Johnson loaded the bases and walked in a run, respectively. The half inning ended when Allen followed with a fly to center.
Diamondbacks Get Two Back
Now trailing 5-0, the Diamondbacks responded in the bottom of the third off new pitcher Adam Cimber. The hosts had been shut down by starter Aaron Civale, who had struck out three and walked one in two scoreless innings. Kelly led off with a single to left. Designated hitter Seth Beer followed with a single to right. Johnson’s off-target throw back to the infield ended up against the fence near the third-base dugout, allowing both runners to advance one base. After center fielder Starling Marte popped to the first baseman in foul ground, Cimber hit second baseman Ketel Marte with a pitch.
That loaded the bases for Escobar, who hit a bouncer to third. Arroyo threw home but could not retire Kelly, and everyone was safe. Two pitches later, left fielder David Peralta brought Beer home with a sacrifice fly to right. Walker then ended the inning with a strikeout, making the score 5-2 Indians after three.
Bradley and Young Shut Indians Down
Archie Bradley, who on Saturday told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com that he wants more spring innings, pitched a 1-2-3 fourth for the Diamondbacks. He did so on nine pitches – eight of which were strikes. Left-hander Alex Young took the hill in the fifth for the Diamondbacks and pitched 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball. The lone baserunner he allowed came in the seventh via a leadoff single to left by Arroyo. However, Lindor followed by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play, wiping Arroyo’s hit out.
Manager Torey Lovullo was pleased with Young’s performance. “Alex threw the ball really, really well. … His outing was outstanding. He gets those types of innings going where it’s six, seven pitches and ground ball after ground ball.” Lovullo said it looks like Young was in “mid-season form,” but also said that it’s still too early to tell what his role will be with the team this coming season. He said that “guys are still fighting for a spot in the rotation,” but “we take notice when we see things like he did today,” adding that Young “did a really nice job.”
Diamondbacks Bats Go Silent
The Diamondbacks struggled to get hits the rest of the way as they managed only three hits from the fourth inning onward. None of those came with runners in scoring position. Lovullo is not concerned yet, although he said he’d like to see the team “offer at less balls out of the zone.”
Civale earned the win with his two shutout innings while Bumgarner took the loss. Logan Allen pitched a perfect eighth and ninth to earn the save.
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