Indians' bizarre bullpen gaffe leads to epic Reds comeback in ninth

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Indians' bizarre bullpen gaffe leads to epic Reds comeback in ninth

Indians' mix-up helps blow four-run lead vs. Reds as go-ahead runs score against a pitcher who shouldn't have been in the game.

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SportsPulse: MLB insider Bob Nightengale discusses the MLB All-Star rosters and points out one glaring snub. USA TODAY

The Cleveland Indians bullpen has been nothing short of a disaster this season. But it reached a new low Tuesday night when the wrong pitcher emerged from the bullpen – to the surprise of manager Terry Francona and players – with the game on the line in the ninth inning. 

Thanks to a brilliant outing from starter Trevor Bauer, the Indians took a 4-0 lead over the Cincinnati Reds into the ninth. But closer Cody Allen ran into some trouble, giving up a two-out RBI single, a two-run double and a pair of walks to load the bases. 

With their lead cut to one and the Reds' best hitter, lefty-swinging Joey Votto, due up, Francona trotted to the mound to bring in southpaw Oliver Perez.

Except Perez wasn't the reliever warming up in the bullpen. Right-hander Dan Otero was. 

So why did the Indians have Otero in the game and not Perez? Francona said afterward he asked pitching coach Carl Willis to get "OP" warming up, but Willis mistakenly thought he heard "OT" – meaning Otero.

Predictably, Votto lined a 3-2 pitch to the gap in right-center field to clear the bases and put the Reds ahead in a game they would go on to win 7-4.

Despite sitting in first place in the AL Central, the Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the majors this season. Their relievers' 5.13 ERA entering Tuesday's play ranks 28th out of 30 teams.

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner

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