Indians improve to 66-69
Great pitching, great htting and great fielding. Does that sound anything like the Cleveland Indians pre-June? The Tribe cruised their way to a rare series victory in Detroit on the back of seven outstanding innings by Cody Anderson, timely hitting by "newcomers" Francisco Lindor, Abraham Almonte, and Michael Martinez, and some very sharp fielding across the board.
The game began as a pitcher's duel, with no hits for either side in the first three and a half innings, just a lone Chisenhall walk in the 2nd. Anderson had coasted the first time through, retiring the entire lineup in order. However, he allowed a four-pitch leadoff walk to Anthony Gose in the 4th inning, and when this was followed by a superb bunt single by Dixon Machado, Anderson was stuck in a big hole with no outs, and Cabrera and the two Martinezes due up. Thankfully, the danger was averted in fine style with a double play groundout to Lindor and then a flyout.
Anderson found himself in more trouble in the 5th, when a leadoff double by Victor Martinez was followed by a Castellanos walk (ball four should have been strike three according to Indians Strike Zone). Showing great grit and will-to-win, Anderson fought back to strike out Tyler Collins on another 3-2 count and then induce another GIDP.
Meanwhile, things were looking comfortable for Verlander until, with two outs in the 5th, Honest Abe Almonte finally broke up the no-hitter with his fifth triple of the year. before Jose Ramirez grounded out to end the inning.
The Tribe then broke the game open in the 6th when Michael Martinez led off the 6th with a single and Jason Kipnis followed up with a tight single that was initially ruled an out at 1st but then overturned on review. After reaching a 1-1 count while showing bunt, Lindor then outfoxed Verlander by smashing a high fastball to the wall for a two-run triple (apparently Hammy delightfully described this as "crossing up the Tigers"). Santana duly drove Lindor home with a single on another high fastball to make it 3-0.
Anderson then rubber-stamped the 6th inning by going 1-2-3, helped by a spectacular catch by Martinez in LF. And Martinez was back in the thick of it in the top of the 7th, singling for a second time before he was promptly caught on a delayed steal by James McCann. Anderson then completed his terrific start with a 1-2-3 7th.
It's tough to know what to make of Anderson. He did a terrific job of limiting hard contact this afternoon, but only managed three strikeouts compared to 12 groundouts (including two double plays). According to August Fagerstrom, he now has the lowest BABAP among all starting pitchers. For how long can he sustain those terrific BABIP numbers? What happens if/when those numbers regress towards "normal" levels"? In any case, this was his day and he certainly deserves every moment of this success, facing one of the toughest lineups in the game.
Back at the game, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen completed the shutout with very little fuss and Michael Martinez made sure with a 9th-inning insurance run (on his third hit of the game!), driving home Abraham Almonte who had singled and then advanced on a wild pitch.
All in all, it was a superb afternoon for the Tribe, with Anderson's excellent outing complemented by some great hitting, in particular by Lindor, Martinez and Almonte. They now head to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox starting tomorrow afternoon, before meeting up with the Tigers again in Thursday for a four-game series at Progressive Field.
Win Expectancy Chart
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