Cleveland Indians blow game after coaches warm up wrong pitcher due to nickname mix-up

Manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis had a miscommunication that directly lead to the Indians loss on Tuesday night.

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Manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis had a miscommunication that directly lead to the Indians loss on Tuesday night.
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Ron Schwane/Getty Images

  • The Cleveland Indians lost on Tuesday night due, in large part, to a miscommunication between manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis.
  • Francona had called for a reliever to start warming up, but on the phone, Willis heard “OP,” for Oliver Perez, instead of “OT,” the nickname of Dan Otero.
  • When Otero entered the game, Joey Votto would hit a go-ahead bases-clearing double to give the Reds a lead they would never give up.

The Cleveland Indians were in great position to extend their lead in the AL Central on Tuesday night, taking a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds.

But the Indians fell apart, giving up seven runs to the Reds in the top of the inning thanks, in large part, to a miscommunication between manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis.

Reliever Cody Allen started the inning for the Indians, hitting a batter and giving up two singles and a double to cut Cleveland’s lead to just 4-3. After two more walks loaded the bases with two outs, and with slugger Joey Votto approaching the plate, Francona called out for a pitching change, only to realize the wrong man was running in from the bullpen.

“When I saw OT coming through the gate, it was not the guy I was expecting,” Francona said.

As Francona explained after the game, the mishap occurred when he called the bullpen to start warming up the next reliever. Francona had asked for “OP” or Oliver Perez, but Willis had heard “OT” the nickname of Dan Otero instead.

Thus, Otero began warming up, and when the call to the bullpen came through, entered the game. It was a puzzling move to everyone watching as Otero is a righty, and Votto is batting over .300 against righties and just above .200 against lefties.

The mistake would immediately backfire – Votto hit a bases-clearing double to give the Reds their first lead of the night, and Cincinnati would go on to win the game 7-4.

While Cleveland still has a comfortable 8.5-game lead on its division, moving forward, the Indians may want to consider adopting some more vibrant nicknames for their relievers to help ensure a similar mistake doesn’t happen again.