Yes, Carlos Santana gave them a 3-2 lead over the Mets with his two-out homer in the 10th inning Wednesday night. But his decision to go for a game-ending double play instead of throwing home to cut off the tying run set the stage for the Tribe’s 4-3 loss in 10 innings.
Santana hit his 30th homer of the season, a drive over the fence in left field, to snap a 2-2 tie. He hit a 2-2 changeup from lefty Luis Avilan.
Struggling closer Brad Hand came on for the save, but Amed Rosario hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Pete Alonso was intentionally walked, Michael Conforto sent a hard grounder to Santana at first. Instead of throwing home, Santana threw to second to try and start a double play.
The Indians got the force at second, but first base was uncovered because neither Hand nor second baseman Jason Kipnis could get there in time as Rosario scored the tying run.
Wilson Ramos kept the inning going by rolling a single down the third-base line. J.D. Davis ended it with a single to left field after a nine-pitch at-bat. Hand (6-4, 3.35) has three blown saves in his last four appearances. He’s allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings in that stretch.
Manager Terry Francona said Santana should have gone home on Conforto’s grounder.
“The game is happening fast, but with a lefty (Hand) on the mound he’s not going to be able to get over there,” Francona said. “Unless he (Santana) can get back, there’s nobody else over there.”
Hand said he didn’t make a move to first because he felt Santana was going home.
“I wasn’t looking at the runner so I didn’t see if he was breaking, but it’s a one-run game and we can’t let the run score,” said Hand, 29-for-34 in save chances. “I thought maybe he could have gone home, I didn’t know if he was breaking. It was a tough play all the way around.”
Hand said he had no chance to get to first.
“I kind of stopped, expecting him to throw it home,” Hand said. “Once he wasn’t throwing it home, I didn’t have a chance to get over there in time. Just a tough play.”
The Twins gave the Indians a chance to climb within two games of first place by losing to the White Sox, 4-0, Wednesday afternoon, but the Indians couldn’t take advantage. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They have scored five runs and gone 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position in their first two games of this series.
The loss also allowed the Rays to pull within a half-game of the Tribe for the first wild card spot.
“We just have to show up tomorrow and hope they lose again and we win," said Adam Plutko, who gave the Indians six strong innings. "We can’t control what they do. We can control only what we do.
“I don’t think anyone is frustrated about not making up ground. I think the only thing we’re frustrated about is not getting the win tonight.”
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the third as Francisco Lindor scored from third on a ground ball by Yasiel Puig. Lindor opened the inning with a sharp single. Mets starter Marcus Stroman, who left after four innings with a tight left hamstring, struck out Greg Allen, but Santana doubled to the wall in right.
Lindor, who did not appear to be running well, had to stop at third. Lindor missed most of April with calf and ankle problems. Puig delivered him.
“I’m fine,” Lindor said. “I guess I was just slow tonight.”
Plutko, meanwhile, was in charge. He opened the game with 10 straight outs. Joe Panik gave New York its first hit with a one-out single in the fourth. Plutko retired NL home-run leader Alonso, but walked Conforto. He ended the inning by getting Wilson Ramirez to force Conforto at second.
Plutko’s command faltered in the fifth. The Mets took a 2-1 lead on consecutive hits by Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares and Luis Guillorme, who was hitting for reliever Jeurys Familia. Frazier singled with one out and Lagares and Guillorme followed with doubles to take the lead.
The Indians tied it in the sixth as Jose Ramirez tripled to score Santana from first. Justin Wilson walked Santana to start the inning. He struck out Puig, but Ramirez beat the Mets’ shift with a triple past third base.
The Indians had two chances to get Ramirez home, but failed. Kipnis popped up to second and Roberto Perez struck out.
Franmil Reyes replaced Plutko as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Plutko allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked one. Plutko, facing the Mets and Yankees in his last two starts, has allowed five runs in 12 innings.
Plutko, who threw 85 pitches, leaned heavily on his four-seam fastball. He threw 52 of them, according to baseball savant.com, and they ranged from 89.1 to 92.4 mph. From there, he threw 18 sliders, nine curveballs and five change ups.
Stroman, making his fourth start for the Mets since being acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, allowed one run on five hits in four innings.
The start of the game was delayed by rain for six minutes.
The Indians end this seven-game trip to New York on Thursday night when they send rookie Adam Civale (1-2, 1.50) to the mound against the Mets and Noah “Thor” Syndergaard (8-6, 3.86). Game time is 7:10 p.m. with SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM carrying the game.