Cleveland 6, Tampa Bay 1
Indians improve to 41-30
For Cleveland sports fans, today was a long but spectacular day. First came the Cavaliers’ championship parade downtown, a parade/rally that lasted most of the afternoon. The parade was slowed thanks to the multitudes that thronged the parade route, but I don’t think any of the million-plus people in attendance cared one bit. The last time Cleveland saw a championship parade was in 1948 (there was none following the 1964 NFL championship), so this public celebration was 68 years in the making. And the fans there enjoyed every second of it.
The crowd of people made it tough for many Indians players to get to Progressive Field at their usual arrival time, but it didn’t have any detrimental affect on the game. The Indians took advantage of another Chris Archer slow start, and that three-run first was more than enough, for Trevor Bauer was magnificent.
First, the offense. LGFmlT Archer has allowed opposing batters to hit for a .904 OPS in the first inning, and that trend held true tonight. Carlos Santana worked a leadoff walk, then Jason Kipnis slugged a two-run homer to deep center field. Then Francisco Lindor walked, and he would later come around to score when Jose Ramirez singled back up the middle. Archer would settle down after that, but the damage was already done.
For Trevor Bauer was locked in tonight. His stuff has always been exceptional, but in the month of June both his fastball and curveball has been as good as I’ve seen from him. The curve was not just a chase pitch, but used as a pitch to get ahead of a hitter, and so the Tampa Bay hitters had to give it credit, and so he they did end up chasing it as the game wore on. His fastball sat in the mid-90s all game long, and was able to hit 96 mph on the radar gun even after throwing more than 100 pitches. His pace was quick, he rarely shook off catcher Chris Gimenez, and that in my mind helped keep the Tribe defense on their toes. For Bauer got plenty of help from his defense. Juan Uribe made a couple of fine plays at third (including a textbook demonstration of how to handle a ball hit off the plate), Jason Kipnis ranged far to his right to throw out Curt Casale, and Francisco Lindor made perhaps a game-changing play to short-circuit a Tampa Bay rally (more on that below).
The only trouble Bauer had came in the 7th inning. He walked Brad Miller - his only walk of the game - to lead off the inning, then gave up a one-out double to Logan Morrison to put runners at second and third. The Indians had a 4-0 lead at the time, so the Rays would very much get back in the game with just a single through the infield. And that almost happened if it hadn’t been for Lindor making a diving stop on a sharp grounder into the hole. The runner from third scored, but Lindor not only stopped the second run from scoring, but had the presence of mind to throw behind Morrison at third to get the third out of the inning. In the bottom of the inning the Indians scored two runs to remove all doubt.
Through the first six innings Bauer was on pace to pitch a Maddux (63 pitches), but even though that possibility went by the wayside after the seventh inning, he was still in great shape to finish the game. He finished the game with 10 strikeouts, one run, three hits, and one walk, all on 113 pitches. His Game Score of 93 matched Corey Kluber’s gem from last night, and because of those back-to-back performances the entire Cleveland bullpen will have gotten three days off by the time the Indians take the field again.
The Tribe victory finished off three different feats. The first one was obvious; a sweep of the Rays. The second was a 6-0 homestand. The third was something no Cleveland had ever done: tonight’s win clinched a perfect 11-0 record at home in the month of June. They head back out on the road with a 3-game lead over Kansas City, having made back the three games they lost to the Royals in last week’s series.
Enjoy this day, Cleveland fans. It doesn’t get much better than this.