CLEVELAND — The Indians played two Wednesday night at Progressive Field. It was one too many.
After a dramatic 3-2 win in the opening game of a traditional doubleheader against the Diamondbacks, Cleveland limped to an agonizing defeat in the nightcap, going scoreless through 12 innings of a 1-0 loss.
The long day — seven hours and six minutes of baseball — wound up being a wash for the Indians, who trail the first-place Royals by 5½ games in the Central Division standings. They entered the day 4½ games out in the wild-card race.
Cleveland struggled offensively in both games, especially the second. Though the Indians matched Arizona’s hit count (eight), they couldn’t come through when it mattered, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“We just needed to cash in once, and we couldn’t do it,” manager Terry Francona said. “When you’re playing a game like that and you’re at home, you feel like you’ve got a pretty good shot. (Michael) Brantley leads off with a double (in the 11th inning) and we leave him there. And we had a couple other chances.”
Arizona’s No. 9 hitter, Tuffy Gosewisch, delivered the game-winning run with a single off C.C. Lee with one out in the 12th.
A walk-off solo home run in the ninth inning from newly acquired outfielder Zach Walters sent the Indians to a win in Game 1. Walters, who joined the Indians in a trading deadline deal with the Nationals for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, hit the first walk-off homer of his career, lining a 1-2 pitch from Randall Delgado into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen in right field.
It accounted for Cleveland’s major league-leading sixth walk-off homer of the season.
Trevor Bauer didn’t get the decision, but he did more than enough to earn a victory in the opener, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out nine over a career-high eight innings.
The right-hander bounced back from a poor performance his last time out to hold his former team hitless through the first five innings. Bauer walked the leadoff batter in the second, then proceeded to retire 11 straight — six on strikeouts.
“Early on, that was about as good as we’ve seen him,” Francona said. “He was probably a little extra amped up, but it looked like he took it and used it and focused. That was really good.”
“It was definitely one of my better ones, command-wise,” Bauer said. “It’s probably right up there with my best outings up here.”
Bauer, who began his career with Arizona before being acquired by the Indians in a three-team trade prior to the 2103 season, said facing the Diamondbacks held no special significance.
“It’s been two years. I’ve long since moved on from that,” he said. “To me, it’s just another team, nine more hitters to try to get out. There’s no bad blood between me and them or anything like that.”
Bauer even said he congratulated Arizona’s Eli Montero — who criticized the pitcher after the trade — for the catcher’s double during a game-tying seventh inning for the Diamondbacks. Replays showed Bauer saying something to Montero as they crossed paths when the inning was complete.
Cleveland managed just two hits off left-hander Vidal Nuno over the first five innings of the opener.
Arizona scored first, but the Indians finally broke through on a two-out, two-run single from Brantley in the sixth. The first RBI accounted for Brantley’s 26th go-ahead RBI, which tied him for second in the American League behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (28).
Cleveland’s Game 2 starter Josh Tomlin allowed only four hits over 5⅓ innings, but his counterpart, left-hander Andrew Chafin, a Western Reserve High graduate and Kent State University product, surrendered just five hits over five innings.
Chafin, who was called up Friday, had more than 60 family members and friends at Progressive Field. Chafin was optioned to Triple-A Reno following the game.
“I completely understand it’s for the benefit of the team,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to come back, but this was a great night that I’ll never forget.”
Tomlin departed after throwing only 50 pitches.
“I thought he pitched great,” Francona said of Tomlin, who struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. “I just thought with the day off (today) and us not using much of the bullpen the first game, we were going to try and keep it right where it was, and we did.”
The Indians, the majors’ worst fielding team, played top-shelf defense in both games. Right fielder Ryan Raburn provided the web gem of the night in the second game, laying out to make a diving catch on a drive from David Peralta with a runner on second in the sixth.
“That’s one of the best plays I’ve ever, I mean, that was an unbelievable play,” Francona said. “At the time, you think it’s going to save the game.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Baltimore
WHEN: Friday, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Progressive Field
PITCHERS: Kluber (13-6, 2.46 ERA) vs. Chen (12-4, 3.90)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM