Corey Kluber powered through adversity for six solid innings, Andrew Miller dominated five of the six batters he faced, and Francisco Lindor hit a ball out of the park that gave the Cleveland Indians their fourth-straight win of the 2016 postseason. But does any of this end in celebration for the Tribe without one Mr. Lonald David Chisenhall, swatter of dribblers, defender of walls? Probably not. Maybe. But probably not.
Now, that’s not to say the game would not have been won without Kluber’s performance or Lindor’s dinger, either. Almost every player in last night’s game had a huge part in the win, but it feels like Chisenhall’s fantastic game, and his pretty good postseason, is being a bit overshadowed. Let’s dig into it.
For starters, we may not be talking about Corey Kluber maintaining a shutout through the first 13 innings of his postseason career without Chisenhall.
In the top of the first, with Josh Donaldson on first base, Kluber gave up a two-strike hit — the first of many.
Okay, fine. Nobody panic. The ball just soared over everyone’s head and if it’s not a home run it will probably lead to a run and quickly tip the scales in favor of the Toronto Blue Jays over a Klubot that, early on, looked not-great. But Chisenstopper played it perfectly.
Not only was he set up correctly just in case of a carom off the wall — which is not as always as easy as it sounds — he also reacted remarkably quickly to the ball being stuck in the bottom part of the wall. Maybe not reaction-time-in-the-negatives kind of quick, but he was right there on top of it before Donaldson fully rounded second base.
In all honesty, Donaldson probably should have scored on the play, anyway. It was clear early in the ball’s trajectory that Lonnie was not going to catch it, but Josh pulled up to watch the ball before hitting the gas rounding second. If he had run it out full speed he would have scored. But he didn’t. Lonnie Chisenhall could have also been slow to react to the ball not bouncing the way he thought it would. But he, too, did not.
That’s the kind of postseason play that, if it goes the other way, everyone in Cleveland hates Chisenhall for a while. He probably would not be deemed with another dreaded “The” designation like “The Catch” or “The Drive,” but if Donaldson scores and the wheels quickly come off of Kluber, everyone points to Chisenhall blowing it in the first inning, especially if Donaldson also erred in his baserunning.
But forget that. Who cares about defense. Let’s talk hitting.
You keep your home run Lindor (no really, it was awesome, take it home a souvenir. I love you) — I’ll take Chisenhall’s three hits any day thank you very much. In a game where the majority of Tribe batters looked absolutely foolish against Marco Estrada, Chisenhall shined.
He reached base on three hits, all singles, and was even running for a vintage Coco Crisp sacrifice bunt. Which I guess is why Coco was in there instead of Rajai Davis, right (grumble grumble)? He also hit a fliner, which I love because it gives me a reason to type “fliner”.
Even looking beyond last night, Lonnie has been solid in the postseason for the Tribe. In four games to date, he’s 6-for-13, including a home run in that 6-0 blowout of the Boston Red Sox — you know, the other team that was so much better than the Indians. And off a left-handed pitcher, no less.
I am not saying last night’s game ball goes to Lonnie Chisenhall — mostly because all game balls henceforth belong to Andrew God-among-men Miller by default — but don’t sleep on Chisentober.