The Cleveland Indians‘ epic bullpen collapse on Tuesday night can be chalked up to a case of mistaken identity.
After Trevor Bauer dominated the Cincinnati Reds with 12 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings, the Reds scored seven off Cody Allen and Dan Otero — all scoring with two outs — en route to a 7-4 win.
Allen hit a batter to lead off the ninth, then allowed two singles and a double that pulled the Reds within 4-3.
With two outs and the bases loaded after two more walks, Indians manager Terry Francona wanted a new reliever to close it out.
There was just one problem. Francona said afterward that there was miscommunication. He requested “OP” — Oliver Perez — and it was understood as “OT,” and Otero was told to warm up in the bullpen.
When the pitching change was made, Francona realized something had gone wrong.
“When I saw OT coming through the gate, it was not the guy I was expecting,” Francona told reporters.
Tuesday marked the fourth time in five days that Otero took the mound, an unusual workload for a reliever.
Otero gave up a double to Reds slugger Joey Votto that cleared the bases and put the Reds up 6-4.
Another single brought in the final run.
Pitching coach Carl Willis said he was responsible for calling the bullpen to warm up Otero instead of Perez.
“I made the mistake. I brought the wrong guy up,” Willis said. “Not that [Otero] can’t get the job done, just wasn’t the right match-up.”
Willis said he should have confirmed the matchup with Francona. But Votto was actually 0-for-4 vs. Otero until the double that won the game.
Francona said that, ultimately, the mistake was his.
“That one lands squarely on me.” Francona said. “There’s no getting around it. I’ve got to be responsible for that.”
Allen took his own share of the blame.
“I take sole responsibility for everything that took place there,” Allen said. “We’re confident in every guy that runs out of that gate and we shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.”
Regardless of where the blame was placed, the end result was a stirring comeback win for the Reds and a night to forget for the Indians.
Information from ESPN’s Marly Rivera was used in this report.