RF unable to catch Ellsbury's liner; 3 score to bring tough end to righty's outing
By William Kosileski
CLEVELAND -- After the Indians' 8-1 loss to the Yankees on Sunday at Progressive Field, Abraham Almonte sat at his locker in the team's clubhouse going over video with bench coach Brad Mills. The two watched footage of a misplay that the right fielder made in a crucial sixth inning that changed the complexion of the game.
With the bases loaded and two down in the top of the frame, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco's first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury was lined out to deep right field, where Almonte gave chase. Almonte -- who was playing in his first game in right at Progressive Field since July 24 -- followed the ball to the warning track, where he flinched before hitting the padding of the nine-foot wall, allowing the ball to drop.
"It's awful hard," Mills said, "because it's such a hard-hit ball. It's a line drive. It's not like it's a ball where you have time to circle around and get the angle on it. He's trying to go get to that spot. There's not really much you can do."
Carrasco would not throw another pitch, as all three of the Yankees' runners would come around to score as Ellsbury reached third with a triple to break a 1-1 tie, bringing a sour end to what was a strong outing from the Indians' right-hander.
"[Almonte's] steps were shorter and choppier than if you put your head down and go to the spot, maybe try to get behind it," manager Terry Francona said. "Then as he closed in on the warning track, you could see he didn't quite know where he was. I'm not sure he knew where the ball was, either. Pivotal play, to say the least."
Per Statcast™, the ball off Ellsbury's bat had an exit velocity of 91 mph and a launch angle of 29 degrees. In addition, the ball in play had only an 11 percent hit probability and a catch probability of 76 percent. Almonte acknowledged the difficult nature of the play, but he said that is a catch he has to make.
"I think [that was] a ball that should be caught, and I was not able to make the play," Almonte said. "I thought it was not an easy fly ball, but it should be caught."
Carrasco -- who retired the first 11 batters he faced and held New York to three base hits through five innings -- battled with Yankees starter Luis Severino for five frames before being charged with five runs in the sixth en route to his fifth loss if the season.
After he allowed the game-tying sacrifice fly to Chase Headley earlier in the sixth, Carrasco issued a walk to Todd Frazier before Ellsbury's go-ahead hit. The book was officially closed on Carrasco when Ellsbury came home to score on an RBI single from Ronald Torreyes against reliever Bryan Shaw.
"I think that was a tough play," Carrasco said of Almonte's misplay. " ... He tried to make that play, but again, that was tough, a tough play."
Even though the ball looked to be catchable with the naked eye, Mills said that there is not much else Almonte could have done in that situation.
"I don't know [what he could have done differently]," Mills said. "That's why I was just going over it with him and having him walk me through it and trying to go through it with him. It's awful hard to say, because there's so many variables -- the wall, the sun, how hard the ball was hit."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.