Cleveland Indians 6, Tampa Bay Rays 2
For a while during tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, I honestly wasn’t sure if the Cleveland Indians would outscore the US Women’s National Soccer team who were playing a game of their own in the World Cup. It took until the seventh inning, but the Tribe did finally manage to score more than a soccer team when Giovanny Urshela cranked a rare 3-run home run that just made it over the left field wall.
The Indians young left side of the infield, Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor, absolutely put on a show tonight. It started with a defensive play from Lindor that could end up going down as the play of the week if not month or year. A diving stop and snow cone catch preserved what was at that point a perfect game for Danny Salazar. Not only was the dive itself spectacular, but Lindor showed a lot more poise than many young shortstops by stopping, collecting himself and then throwing a rocket to first.
Another big defensive play came from Lindor (albeit in a lower leverage situation) in the eighth inning when he rocketed a throw to first from the fringes of left field. Just a few batters later In the same inning, unfortunately, he threw another ball to first after juggling it that would have been an out, had Carlos Santana been able to extend an extra inch and bring it in. Instead it went down as an error and sloppily extended the inning that eventually lead to Salazar being knocked out of the game.
While his defense isn’t quite as well known as Lindor’s (even though it should, and will be, soon), Urshela has a superb glove of his own and he flashed it late in this game with a sliding stop and throw to first of his own to end the Rays seventh inning.
For the first six innings, Tribe bats were totally silent other than one solo home run from Jason Kipnis. But everything changed when the Urshela nation attacked.
Urshela came to bat with Carlos Santana and Brandon Moss waiting on base and did something that Tribe batters haven’t done in what feels like forever – he hit a multi-run homer. It was a no-doubt home run from the moment it left his bat, and if I could have a video clip of loop continuously in my eyeballs until it kills me I would die happy. The towering shot was the first home run with men on base for the Indians in their last nine home runs. There’s a chance that Urshela’s home run opened the tap, as just an inning later David Murphy hit a home run with a man on base of his own when he hit in himself and Michael Brantley to put the Tribe up 6-0.
Hitting anything, let alone home runs, with runners on base is a major hole in this team’s game right now and we can only hope that this game is the catalyst for the slumbering offense to awaken and give the excellent pitching staff the runs they deserve.
Speaking of pitching, Danny Salazar quietly had a perfect game going through six innings. Similar to Cody Anderson’s no perfect bid that ran into the seventh inning last night, Salazar was doing it with very few strikeouts – two by the time the perfect game and no-hitter were both spoiled in the sixth inning – but a lot of ground ball outs and efficient pitch counts. What started as a perfect game ultimately "only" ended up as an 8-inning, 1-earned run performance, so it was still nothing to be heartbroken over.
The fact that Salazar could go so many innings without his best strikeout stuff working and still dominate is extremely encouraging on its own. It feels like in past years, and maybe even some starts this season, The Dzar would have been great the first time through the lineup then got beat up as hitters caught up to his fastball. That wasn’t the case tonight, and hopefully it won’t be the story for Salazar in the future.
Despite a scary eighth inning where the Indians reverted to some poor defensive and pitching habits, this was a great win for the Tribe with a lot more highs than lows. Let’s do it again tomorrow, shall we?
Win Expectancy Chart
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