Cleveland Indians 0, Pittsburgh Pirates 1
It’s a good thing the Cleveland Indians managed a couple hits early to avoid being on the wrong end of a perfect game, because the offense was completely shut down by Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke past the second inning. While he did not tally a mind-blowing number of strikeouts, he continually kept pitches in the strike zone and Tribe batters did him the favor of hitting everything poorly.
If you had some Fourth of July celebrations to get to, this was a great game. The Indians played as if they did, and it resulted in total domination by Locke. Things looked promising to start the game as Jason Kipnis reached base on a hit by pitch, but Francisco Lindor hitting into a double play immediately erased that good luck. Similar, in the second inning, Yan Gomes hit a great line drive single to start the inning, but was out a batter later when Carlos Santana hit into another double play.
All told, the Indians did not manage to get a runner to second base until the ninth inning, but even then nothing came of it. Locke and closer Mark Melancon erased 21 of the final 24 batters without much of a whimper from the opposition.
Cody Anderson pitched a gem of his own, but could not quite match the shutout performance his entire outing. He did manage to keep the Pirates scoreless through five frames, but things went ever-so-slightly south in the sixth. A Josh Harrison double (that missed being a home run by just a few feet), set the table for Neil Walker to single him home with a ground ball that made it through the right side of the Indians outfield.
The rest of Anderson’s outing was pretty on par with his two stellar starts against the Tampa Bay Rays: a lot of throws in the zone, not a lot of strikeouts (only four in eight innings), and a lot of poorly hit baseballs.
One of the big reasons that Anderson was able to keep pace with Locke’s shutdown performance was the Tribe defense; Giovanny Urshela in particular. The Tribe’s young third baseman provided several big plays that a lot of other third basemen probably would not make on any given night. He snatched a ball off the ground to a tag a running Jordy Mercer early on in the game, and in the fifth inning, he had an impressive pair of throw outs to keep runners off base in one of the game’s many 1-2-3 innings.
Lindor had a couple opportunities for big double plays, but they came on balls that were hit too lightly for the throw to get the runner at first out, or he had to avoid a hard slide. From as far as I could tell, this was a great game yet again for the Indians in the field. This is starting to be a trend, and it's a rend I'm really enjoying.
The Indians failed to tie their season-high winning streak with today’s loss, and It looked ugly offensively, but there’s still some good to take away from this game (other than the fact that those hats are hideous). Urshela and Lindor continued to prove their worth defensively, and Anderson once again looked fantastic. Had the Indians scored instead of the Pirates, Neo likely would have been in the ninth inning to finish out the game for a complete game shutout. As it is, through his eight innings of work, he threw only 92 pitches, allowed six spread-out hits, and walked none.
Maybe not much of a consolation prize, but this game went by incredibly fast. It started at around 4:10 and ended at 6:14, making it one of the shortest games of the season at two hours and four minutes long.
Win Expectancy Chart
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|11||Matt R. Lyons||4|