Harper, Vargas power Phillies past Indians 9-4

The Indians fall to 91-64 on the season

James Rapien
September 21, 2019 - 10:06 pm
Sep 21, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning as Cleveland Indians catcher Kevin Plawecki (right) looks on at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: K

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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CLEVELAND, OH – Every game is a must-win for the Indians, but they couldn’t get it done on Saturday night against the Phillies.

Philadelphia scored eight straight runs to come from behind and beat the Tribe 9-4. The Indians got off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the first inning. They added two more runs in the second thanks to Oscar Mercado’s 13th homer of the season.

Philadelphia starter Jason Vargas bounced back after his early struggles, allowing just one hit after he gave up the home run to Mercado. 

Zach Plesac allowed four runs and four hits in 4⅓ innings. He issued two walks and finished with three strikeouts. The rookie right-hander left runners on the corners in the fifth inning with just one out. Oliver Perez came in and gave up a 3-run homer to Bryce Harper, which gave the Phillies a 5-4 edge, their first lead of the series.

Former Indians Jay Bruce (1) and Brad Miller (2) combined for three home runs, which helped Philadelphia keep their slim wild card hopes alive. 

The Indians’ 5-game winning streak is over. They fall to 91-64 on the year with seven games left.

Tampa Bay beat Boston 5-4 in extra innings, which means the Rays have a one-game lead over the Indians in the race for the final spot in the American League wild card race.

Help is on the Way

José Ramírez went through an extensive workout on Saturday and could be activated from the injured list in the near future.

“Another really good day for him,” president Chris Antonetti said on Saturday afternoon. “Obviously (he) took live batting practice off both a left-handed pitcher and right-handed pitcher and he felt good, so we’re right now in the process of assessing where he is now and what the plan will be. But hopefully in the not too distant future he’ll be in action for us.”

Ramírez broke the hamate bone in his right hand on Aug. 24. The 27-year-old posted a .321/.372/.705 slash line with six home runs and 20 RBI in the month of August (22 games) prior to his injury.

A Helping Hand

Brad Hand pitched for the first time since Sept. 8 and looked like his old self. He struck out the side in the sixth inning. Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley and Cesar Hernandez went down on strikes. His four-seam fastball topped out at 94 mph.

It’s a good sign for Hand, who has struggled over the past few months after a dominant start to the season. He has 34 saves on the year, which is third in the American League. The Indians hope he settles in and can resume his closing role in the near future.

“The goal is to get him to that (closer role),” Chris Antonetti said. “How quickly that happens is hard to say exactly.”

It’ll happen in the near future if Hand continues to pitch like he did on Saturday night.

Up Next

The Indians host the Phillies on Sunday evening, in what will be the final regular season game at Progressive Field this season. Adam Plutko will get the start for the Tribe. He’s 7-4 on the year with a 4.34 ERA. Vince Velazquez will be on the mound for Philadelphia. He’s 7-7 with a 4.89 ERA.