Momentum shifts after Encarnacion's bat toss

Indians slugger called out on check swing in sixth inning vs. Arizona

Momentum shifts after Encarnacion's bat toss

PHOENIX -- Edwin Encarnacion jumped in disbelief and threw his arms in the air. The Indians slugger angrily tossed away his bat and soon the helmet followed. All the while, Encarnacion barked emphatically, insisting that he did not swing in the sixth inning Saturday night.

Given that the D-backs dealt the Indians a lopsided 11-2 defeat, Encarnacion's tirade might seem like an insignificant moment in the settled dust. Before the final score was separated by a mile, though, this contest was a classic game of inches. That was until the floodgates flew open not long after Encarnacion was rung up on the attempted check swing.

"I just reacted," Encarnacion said. "You know you have to do something to help this team win the game. That's what I was thinking in the moment."

The blowout had its roots in a swing of momentum in that sixth inning.

With the game caught in a 1-1 deadlock -- courtesy of a five-inning pitcher's duel between Arizona ace Zack Greinke and Cleveland's Trevor Bauer -- Francisco Lindor nearly gave the Tribe the lead. Lindor drilled a one-out offering from Greinke to right-center field, where the baseball struck the yellow line atop the fence. Inches from a go-ahead home run, the ball bounced back into play for a double.

"You could see it left an indentation in the padding," said Mike Barnett, who is the Indians' replay coordinator. "It was close."

Lindor advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and Encarnacion later stepped to the plate with a two-out opportunity. The slugger worked ahead in the count, 2-0, but then swung and missed at a pair of Greinke pitches that tailed low and away. Encarnacion took another ball to reach a full count, and then believed he had drawn a walk when he checked his swing on the next pitch.

First-base umpire Lance Barksdale wasted little time in calling it a swing, resulting in a strikeout that ended the inning and set off Encarnacion. His angry display was so animated that he admitted after the game that he thought he was going to be ejected.

"But, they know I don't usually do that," Encarnacion said. "They know me."

When he tossed away his bat, Encarnacion did not realize how close he came to hitting home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez. The first baseman felt bad after seeing it on replay.

"I'm going to tell him sorry tomorrow when I see him," Encarnacion said.

From the dugout, Indians manager Terry Francona agreed with Encarnacion's initial take on the call. The manager thought the slugger held up. When Francona watched the play later on film, though, he was no longer as certain.

"When I saw it live, I didn't think he came close to swinging," Francona said. "When I went back and looked, it's close. I wouldn't want to have to make that call in real time. It's hard. That's one of those where we want it, and so do they. That'll never change."

The D-backs capitalized on the moment.

In the bottom of the sixth, Arizona's lineup got rolling. David Peralta sent a Bauer pitch off the right-field pole for a one-out home run and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a double into the right-field corner. Goldschmidt stole third and Yasmany Tomas crushed a curveball from Bauer off the center-field wall for a run-scoring triple. Cleveland could not stop the bleeding from there.

The D-backs plated four runs in the sixth and then six more in the eighth.

"When they get aggressive and they start feeling good, we've seen it two days in a row now, they put a hurtin' on us in a hurry," Francona said.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.