Tuesday night was shaping to be a very good night for the Cleveland Indians. It ended with maybe their worst loss of the season.

Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez gave the Indians an early 2-0 lead over the Cincinnati Reds with first-inning solo home runs, and given the way Trevor Bauer was pitching, those two runs seemed like plenty. Bauer was electric Tuesday.

Bauer is now sitting on a 2.30 ERA and a 169/41 K/BB in 19 starts and 129 1/3 innings this season. He’ll be at the All-Star Game next week and deservedly so.

The Indians turned a 4-0 lead over to closer Cody Allen in the ninth inning, and that’s when all hell broke loose. It all started with a hit-by-pitch and an infield single too. The first two runners reached in perhaps the most annoying ways — annoying for the pitching team, that is — but the important thing is they reached.

Allen was unable to stop the bleeding. After two quick outs, four straight batters reached base against Allen. Jose Peraza singled to drive in a run. Adam Duvall doubled in two more runs to cut the lead to 4-3. The next two batters walked and that was that. Allen was out of the game. He exited with a one-run lead, the bases loaded, and two outs. He faced eight batters and retired two.

That’s when things got weird. Manager Terry Francona wanted southpaw Oliver Perez to face the left-handed hitting Joey Votto. Perez never warmed up due to a miscommunication. Dan Otero entered instead.

Oh geez. So instead of Perez, who is holding lefties to a .174/.174/.217 batting line this season, Votto got to face the right-handed Otero. Lefties were hitting .348/.362/.739 against Otero going into Tuesday’s game. I repeat: .348/.362/.739.

You know what happened next, right? Mr. Votto cleared the bases:

A back-breaker. Allen couldn’t protect a four-run lead and the bullpen miscommunication created one of the lopsided matchups possible. Otero against Votto? Bad news all around. The Reds held on to win the game (CIN 7, CLE 4).

At the start of the ninth inning, the Indians had a 98.3 percent chance to win the game. Heck, Cleveland’s win probability was still 92.5 percent after the infield single that put two on with two out. This was the other 7.5 percent. Great comeback for the Reds. Bad loss for the Indians, who still own a comfortable eight-game lead in the AL Central. The bullpen needs some help though.


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