Indians 6, Brewers 2
Indians improve to 60-66
Carlos Carrasco was supposed to start tonight's game, but the Indians placed him on the Disabled List with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Carrasco shouldn't miss much time, but the Indians needed to find someone to cover the couple starts he would have made over the next couple weeks. That someone was Cody Anderson, who rather than making a scheduled rehap start in the minors, instead made his "rehab" start in the majors. It was a rather unconventional way of filling a spot, but it worked.
Anderson hadn't pitched in a game since August 7, so he was on a strict pitch count. But a bigger question than how long he'd go into the game was how effective he'd be. In his last four starts before the DL stint it seemed as though the league had figured him out. In addition, Anderson had faced the Brewers before, so if "the league" had figured him out based purely on video, what would a team that had actually faced him do?
But those fears were unfounded, for not only did Anderson reach the fifth inning, he struck out four batters in those 4.1 innings. He utilized his changeup to good effect, changing both speed and eye level. He gave up a home run to start the second, but struck out the next three batters he faced, quite a departure from the contact pitcher he seemed to be in his first stint with the club. After giving up a Jean Segura single (his second hit allowed) with one out in the fifth, Terry Francona decided that he had better not press his luck and pulled Anderson. Cody ended his evening two outs short of the five innings required for a pitcher to win a game, but he pitched far enough into the game for Francona to use the bullpen in their accustomed roles to finish the contest.
It certainly helped that by this time the Indians had staked the bullpen to decent lead. Jimmy Nelson was undone by the walk; he gave free passes to two Indians per each inning that he pitched. The most important of Nelson's eight free passes came in the second inning, when he walked Jose Ramirez with two outs to load the bases, bringing up Jason Kipnis. The Tribe second baseman emptied the bases with a double, and staked the Indians to a 3-1 lead, a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The subheader on this article mentions that this was a game in which young players did things they hadn't really done yet in their brief MLB careers. One of those feats was Cody Anderson's four strikeouts. Another was Francisco Lindor's three stolen bases. Lindor has exceeded expectations at the plate in his first MLB stint, but until tonight he hadn't really been a base-stealing threat. The Indians came into the game with a plan to exploit Nelson's slow time to the plate, and stole 4 bases off Nelson and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy; Lindor had three of them. It rained constantly until the later innings (apparently Lake Effect Rain is a thing), so it was even more impressive that Lindor stole the three bases on a very slow track. Lindor's updated batting line after going 2-for-3 with two walks is .310/.349/.435, an OPS (.784) that trails just Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley on this club.
The final piece to fall into place was the bullpen, who shut down the Brewers over the last 4.2 innings. With an off-day on Thursday, Francona could afford to be aggressive with his usage, and it paid off. Kyle Crockett, Jeff Manship, Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Anderson all pitched tonight, and all held the Brewers scoreless (Crockett did allow an inherited runner to score). The diciest inning with the eighth, when Bryan Shaw allowed the first two batters to reach but struck out the side to maintain a 5-2. Jason Kipnis homered in the bottom of the eighth, but by that time Cody Allen had warmed up, and when Allen warms up he usually enters the game, whether it be the eighth or the ninth, whether it be a save situation or not. Alen allowed a leadoff double, but retired the next three batters he faced to finish off the game. Cody (the closer) had an excellent knuckle curve going tonight, and used it to devastating effect against Logan Schafer, who struck out in three pitches.
With the win, the Indians moved ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central standings, the first time since July 24th that they haven't been in at least a tie for last place. Baby steps.
Win Expectancy Chart