How one grounder sunk Indians in heartbreaking walk-off loss to Mets

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/ny-mets/" data-ylk="slk:Mets">Mets</a>' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/10233/" data-ylk="slk:Amed Rosario">Amed Rosario</a> scores the tying run in the 10th inning as <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/cleveland/" data-ylk="slk:Indians">Indians</a>' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9761/" data-ylk="slk:Roberto Perez">Roberto Perez</a> defends at Citi Field on Aug. 21, 2019 in New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Mets' Amed Rosario scores the tying run in the 10th inning as Indians' Roberto Perez defends at Citi Field on Aug. 21, 2019 in New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK —The Indians got the ground ball they needed Wednesday night.

They just didn’t get the desired outcome.

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In a play that teams spend time working on in spring training but often proves to be much more difficult in real time, the Indians made a few mistakes on a potential game-ending grounder to first base that ultimately loomed large in their 4-3 walk-off loss at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

Confusion on which base the ball was going to coupled with no one covering first base allowed the Mets to score the game-tying run before they ultimately walked off the Indians on J.D. Davis’ two-out RBI single to left.

“Hit one of those spots where we needed a refresher course on it,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “We got a hard one, got a harsh one.”

The Indians took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th inning on Carlos Santana’s homer, and needed just three outs to split the first two games of this series.

Hand, who has been shaky for more than a month, allowed a leadoff double before a sacrifice bunt put Rosario at third base with one out.

The Indians then walked Pete Alonso to set up the game-ending double play, and it seemed they got their wish when Michael Conforto hit a 70-mph grounder to Santana, positioned at first base.

Santana had the option to cut down Rosario at the plate, but he instead went to second base in an attempt to turn two.

And that’s when the night went south for the Indians.

Santana fielded the ball a sizable distance from first base, and thus could not retreat back to the bag to field the throw.

Kipnis, positioned about halfway between first and second, hesitated for a second while Santana threw, delaying his time to first base. He added that he did not believe he had ever recorded the second out on that type of double play.

Hand, who fell toward third base, didn’t run to first base since he thought the ball would be going to the plate.

“I kind of stopped, expected him to go home,” Hand said. “Once he wasn’t throwing it home, I didn’t have a chance to get over there in time. Tough play.”

Santana said he thought he could get the game-ending double play, and catcher Roberto Perez thought the Indians would have won the game had Hand covered the bag although he did not blame Hand.

Indians manager Terry Francona said the ball went to the wrong bag.

“The game is happening fast, but with a lefty on the mound, not going to be able to get over there,” Francona said of Hand not covering first base. “Unless he can get back, no one else there to take the throw.”

Wilson Ramos followed with an infield single, and Davis won a nine-pitch at-bat with a hard single to left to send the crowd home happy.

The Indians (74-53) now have lost six of nine to remain three back in the AL Central, and have to win Thursday to avoid a sweep.

“It happened and we lost the game,” Santana said. “Tomorrow’s a new day again.”

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