Indians improve to 36-30
With the Kansas City Royals currently in a close contest against the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians may very well have needed to win this game to stay atop the American League Central. The bullpen did their darnedest to make it interesting, but Carlos Santana gave Tribe fans the therapeutic home run shot we all needed after one too many collapses in recent weeks.
Before we get into Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen reducing my life expectancy by three days, let's talk about Trevor Bauer.
Bauer came into the game after two pretty solid outings, and dare I say he has now made it three in a row. It was not a game where he had particularly electric stuff, but Chris Gimenez -- who has become his personal catcher since being acquired earlier this season -- had him mixing up pitches frequently and effectively. On the night, Trevor threw 60 fastballs, 12 changeups, 23 curveballs, and 20 cutters, according to Brook's Baseball. The result of so many different pitches was a very confused-looking White Sox lineup. Granted, the White Sox lineup always looks confused, but I'm pretty sure this time it was because of Bauer's pitch selection, and not the loss of their clubhouse leader, 14-year-old Drake LaRoche.
What contact the White Sox were able to make was mostly weak or line drives straight to outfielders. And, with the exception of a misguided slide attempt by Lonnie Chisenhall, the defense responded well behind him. I don't know if it is pure maturing, Gimenez talking to him between batters or what, but seeing Bauer not completely collapse after a defensive miscue is a very welcome sight. His body language was not great after the play, but honestly, I do not care. If he wants to sulk, get mad, pout whatever after a bad play then go out and strike out Melky Cabrera to end the inning, I am okay with it. Trevor is just a guy who cannot hide his emotions, and that is okay in my book.
Offensively, the Indians looked equally confused by the arm of Jose Quintana as the White Sox were by Trevor Bauer. They struck out 13 times collectively compared to just four walks. What really mattered, though, was that they finally got to him in the eighth inning. Jason Kipnis, who is doing everything in his power to shatter the narrative that he cannot hit lefties, doubled to score Michael Martinez from first base to put the Indians up a run heading into the ninth.
Even before that, however, Bryan Shaw almost made it mandatory the Indians get a run, instead of just a luxury. Zach McAllister had been warming up in the bullpen, but then Terry Francona apparently remembered that he could use Bryan Shaw again and decided to do so with the game tied heading into the top of the eighth. It went about as well as you would expect a Bryan Shaw inning to go, with all the hallmarks of a vintage Shaw'ing: A single, a stolen base, and a walk. Luckily, the one thing it missed this time around was a run (and/or a home run), as Shaw was able to finish off the inning, damage free, by striking out Todd "Not worth Bradley Zimmer or Clint Frazier" Frazier.
Looking at the box score, the bullpen combination of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen did not look too bad tonight. But watching them both live, I think I died twice and was revived by just the sound of Rick Manning's voice. Bryan Shaw allowed runners on the corners with two outs, while Cody Allen blew a save opportunity for only the second time this season with two straight doubles from Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia. Allen was able to stop the bleeding there, however, with a pair of strikeouts to the inning.
Enter Carlos Santana.
With Indians Twitter ready to explode with Cody Allen hate, Progressive Field already feeling testy on the night, and Nate Jones preparing to send the game into extra innings, Santana scoops a breaking ball from the bottom edge of the zone and politely tosses it over the outfield wall so some kid can play with it in his backyard until he himself grows into an adult and hands it down to his son on his deathbed following a happy fulfilling life. It was beautiful.