CLEVELAND -- For most of the ninth inning, Indians closer Cody Allen did his job. He generated a pair of infield choppers and induced a weak popup. Baseball, however, has a history of turning a series of flukes into an offensive firestorm.
"It's a weird game sometimes," outfielder Brandon Guyer said after Cleveland's stunning 10-7 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday night.
Leading up to a ninth-inning meltdown that came at Allen's expense -- a rally that culminated with a grand slam off the bat of Adam Eaton -- things were set up perfectly for the Tribe.
Carlos Carrasco had worked into the seventh inning, the offense had answered a pair of pushes by Chicago's lineup and setup man Bryan Shaw turned in a seamless eighth to have the Indians poised to walk away with another win. After Allen took over for the final frame, with Cleveland clinging to a 7-5 lead, the powerful righty struck out Justin Morneau with one of his signature knuckle curves.
"We put ourselves in good position," said Allen, who entered the night with a 1.19 ERA and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings in his past 30 appearances.
Things quickly came unglued for the Tribe, which was without the services of ace reliever Andrew Miller for this game due to his recent workload.
Chicago's five-run ninth began when Todd Frazier pulled a fastball from Allen sharply into the hole between shortstop and third base. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor ranged to his right, gloved the ball on the run and threw across his body toward first base. It was deemed an infield single, considering Frazier's hustle up the line, but the off-target throw led to a costly error. Frazier moved up to second on the play.
Indians manager Terry Francona was asked if Lindor -- known for his highlight-reel defense -- should have held on to the ball.
"Yeah, probably," Francona said. "But again, how many times have we seen him make plays, where you don't want to take his aggressiveness away?"
Lindor's decision loomed large, though, when J.B. Shuck followed with a chopper back up the middle. The White Sox outfielder sent a 2-2 offering from Allen just beyond the edge of the pitcher's glove, and bouncing through the infield. Second baseman Jason Kipnis retrieved it after two hops, but Shuck raced up the line and beat the throw for an infield single.
Had there not been an error, Kipnis might have had a play at second base.
"Cody Allen made pitches," Lindor said. "They were just able to play it. They made something happen, that's what happens when you put the ball in play. They did that. They played better in the ninth inning than us."
Allen came so close to getting couple outs leading up to slam. Allen: "That's baseball. You've got to make pitches." pic.twitter.com/h6iYhpdWzu
Allen followed with a walk to rookie Tim Anderson, who watched a full-count fastball pop into catcher Roberto Perez's glove just below the strike zone. For a moment, given how well Perez framed the pitch, Francona thought home-plate umpire Jim Wolf was going to call a strike.
"You could see the umpire flinch like he almost called it," said the manager.
Then, before the blast, there was a bloop.
With the bases loaded, Dioner Navarro lofted a pitch from Allen down the left-field line, where it nicked off the glove of third baseman Jose Ramirez. That single, which came with an exit velocity of 66 mph, according to Statcast™, plated Frazier to trim the Tribe's lead to 7-6. Three pitches later, Eaton drilled an 0-2 breaking ball over the wall in right for a stadium-hushing slam.
"They had a lot go their way," Guyer said. "That's baseball."
Allen made no excuses.
"You've got to make pitches when you have to," he said. "[We] had a nice opportunity right there to kind of limit what was going on."
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.