Rare fielding lapse costs Indians in loss

Rare fielding lapse costs Indians in loss

BALTIMORE -- Francisco Lindor said the Indians lost Saturday's game against the Orioles in the first inning. Cleveland's shortstop was not, however, referring to the ball that Mark Trumbo deposited deep into the left-field seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards to give Baltimore a swift lead.

After the Tribe's 5-2 loss to the O's, both Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis were kicking themselves over a double play that they did not complete. Had Kipnis fired the ball a half-second faster, or Lindor made the turn a hair quicker, Trumbo never would have even stepped into the batter's box against Josh Tomlin.

"We both just didn't have enough urgency on the play," Kipnis said.

Chalk it up as a rare lapse for one of the game's top middle-infield duos.

Lindor is in the midst of a season worthy of Gold Glove consideration. Kipnis, who has not been admired by advanced metrics in previous years, has ranked among the Majors' best at his position this season. Whether a highlight-reel effort is required, or a routine play is at hand, Lindor and Kipnis have been consistently reliable for the Indians this year.

Neither Lindor nor Kipnis made an excuse for mishandling the grounder off the bat of Chris Davis in the first inning, but Cleveland manager Terry Francona was not about to put the onus on them, either. Francona credited Davis for hauling it up the first-base line, and Tomlin lamented not making pitches to escape damage. It is also fair to point out that the Tribe's offense did little on this night, making any missteps more magnified.

None of that changed how Lindor felt after the loss.

"That play is made 99 out of other 100 times," the shortstop said.

This situation arose with one out and runners on the corners in the opening frame. Tomlin worked into a 2-2 count against Davis, while Cleveland's infield was in a defensive shift. Lindor was to the right of second base and Kipnis was positioned in the hole closer to first. Tomlin spun a curveball, which Davis pulled precisely where the Indians needed the ball.

Kipnis gloved the ball on one hop but hesitated briefly while Lindor hustled over to cover second base. Once Lindor was near the bag, Kipnis relayed it to the shortstop, who recorded the out at second and then did what he could to snap a throw off quickly to first.

"I thought we did a really good job," Francona said. "Kip's got to give Frankie a little time to get where he is, and it's kind of an awkward play, and I thought Frankie did a really good job. I thought that kid [Davis] busted his [rear] down the line."

According to Statcast™, Davis went from home to first base in 4.45 seconds, representing his fourth-fastest home-to-first time this season. He narrowly beat the throw from Lindor, allowing Adam Jones to score from third base on the play.

"Chris runs balls out," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's not a first baseman in the league who would outrun him to first base on that ball. That's the thing that makes a difference. Always cover yourself. People from Baltimore have a long memory, and so do his teammates. Chris doesn't give in."

Three pitches later, Trumbo crushed a fastball from Tomlin to left field for a two-run homer, giving Baltimore a 3-0 lead.

Trumbo's 30th home run

"That's a tough play," Tomlin said of the would-be twin killing. "It was a one-hop, hit pretty well. It was a tough play. Stuff like that happens in baseball. I've got to make a pitch after that. I've got to execute and get out of that inning."

Lindor shouldered the blame.

"I took longer than I should have," Lindor said. "The game was lost in the first inning."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.