Throw-hio! Robertson at heart of Indians' win
Outfielder triples, makes 2 sparkling defensive plays, including game-saving assist
CINCINNATI -- Daniel Robertson slammed hard enough into Great American Ball Park's center-field wall that his hat popped off and dropped to the warning track. In one quick burst, the outfielder shuffled to his feet, plucked his cap from the ground and sprinted off the field.
That running, bruising catch robbed Reds shortstop Zack Cozart of an extra-base hit, ended the fourth inning and was just one of Robertson's contributions in a wild 8-7 victory for the Indians on Tuesday night. The journeyman outfielder also tripled, made a game-saving throw in the eighth inning and was in the batter's box when the game's decisive run scored on a wild pitch.
In a game that had just about everything, Robertson was in the middle of it all.
"He's going 100 mph all the time," Indians relief ace Andrew Miller said. "It's been fun to watch."
A lot had to happen for Robertson to find his way onto the Indians' roster. A non-roster invitee by Cleveland in the spring, the 31-year-old spark plug was called up after a rash of injuries to outfielders Austin Jackson, Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer. Manager Terry Francona raves about Robertson's energy and loves that he can handle all three outfield spots.
Thanks to National League rules (no designated hitter), and the fact that Cincinnati had a lefty (Amir Garrett) on the mound, Robertson found his way into the starting lineup on Tuesday. Francona wanted to keep his two left-handed-hitting center fielders -- Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall -- available off the bench for possible pinch-hitting assignments.
"It's a pleasure and blessing to be here every day -- let alone to be in the lineup," Robertson said. "Once you see your name in the lineup, you know it's go time."
Robertson showed off his speed in the second, when he sent a pitch from Garrett deep into the right-center-field gap for a two-out triple. Robertson didn't get any farther, though, as Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco -- instructed not to swing in his at-bats -- bunted out to end the inning.
Where Robertson really delivered was in the field.
The first standout play came on Cozart's shot to deep center in the fourth. According to Statcast™, Robertson covered 94 feet in 5.1 seconds for what amounted to a three-star catch (75-percent catch probability). Statcast™ did not register the exit velocity of Robertson's hat as he crashed face-first into the wall.
"That woke me up," Robertson quipped.
Robertson then came through big in the eighth, when the Indians were clinging to an 8-7 lead and the Reds were threatening against Miller. With two outs, Cozart shot a pitch into right field, and Jose Peraza (on second base) had every intention of scoring. Robertson, who moved to right from center in the seventh, charged, gloved the ball and made a perfect throw to catcher Yan Gomes.
Peraza tried to slide around Gomes, but the catcher spun and made the tag to end the inning.
"Thanks to him, we won the game," said Edwin Encarnacion, who had two home runs in the victory.
"That was huge. All game he was awesome," Miller said. "That was the game, I think. That was an incredible play."