CLEVELAND -- Oscar Mercado on Friday night hinted that the Philadelphia Phillies might want to be a bit afraid of him, too, and not just Francisco Lindor. They didn't listen.
On Sunday night, Mercado made sure they did, as his go-ahead, three-run home run propelled the Indians to an 10-1 win over the Phillies at Progressive Field.
The Tampa Bay Rays earlier in the day lost to the Boston Red Sox, which pulled the Indians into a tie with the Rays for the second wild card spot with six games remaining. The Indians are off on Monday before a couple of three-game series road series, one against the Chicago White Sox and one against the Washington Nationals, with their season hanging in the balance.
The Indians (92-64) and Phillies (79-75) entered the bottom of the fifth tied 1-1. Greg Allen and Roberto Perez reached base thanks to back-to-back errors on the Phillies, the latter on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Ryan Flaherty attempted a sacrifice bunt attempt of his own, but this time Phillies starter Vince Velasquez fielded it cleanly and took the easy out at third to get the lead runner. Lindor then grounded out for the second out.
That's when Mercado stepped to the plate. Instead of, as he said, being a bit afraid of him, Velasquez went right after him with a couple pitches that caught the middle. The last one, a fastball up in the zone, was belted by Mercado for a go-ahead, three-run home run that put the Indians on top 4-1. Mercado raised both arms to the crowd as he ran toward first in what is one of the biggest nights of an already stellar rookie season.
Mercado has also been one of the hotter hitters in the American League the last few weeks. Prior to his monster home run, considering the stakes of the playoff chase, Mercado was carrying a .329/.393/.562 slash line in September.
Two innings later, Francisco Lindor added an RBI single on a ball lined into right field before Yasiel Puig put the game out of reach. Puig stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and a drilled a ball into the right-center field gap to score all three runs. Carlos Santana, on first base, scored on a bang-bang play in which Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto couldn't hold onto the ball.
Franmil Reyes a few batters latter hit a two-run home run to right field, his 36th of the season and ninth with the Indians. He also almost hit Slider, the Indians' mascot, who was standing on the right-field wall.
Indians starting pitcher Adam Plutko allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings and received some help from Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco, who has looked more comfortable in his bullpen role lately, entered in the top of the fifth of a tied game with two runners on and two outs. He got Realmuto to ground a ball to the left side, which was turned into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play to escape the jam. Carrasco went on to throw 2 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
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