Indians improve to 80-58 (5.5-game lead in AL Central)
The last time midges descended on Progressive Field as much as they did tonight, they were actually invading Jacobs Field during the 2007 playoffs. They flustered Joba Chamberlain in Game 2 of the ALDS, helping the Cleveland Indians win a game in a series that they would eventually go on to win and we will not talk about the rest of the playoffs here.
This game was not quite as high on the scale of importance, but the Indians needed tonight's game like Brandon Guyer needs a steady diet of crickets. They were coming off of two-straight losses to these Houston Astros after winning six-straight in the week prior. At first, it looked like our midge overlords were against the Indians, with one kamikazeing directly into Carlos Carrasco's eye mid-pitch. He struggled with the next two batters he faced post eye-plunge, allowing Yulieski Gurriel to hit a single and Colby Rasmus to absolutely obliterate a ball to right field.
Luckily, the midges quickly learned which team they were on and went to work on the Astros. In particular, they bugged Jake Marisnick, even appearing to go into his eye in the middle of an at-bat. Marisnick ended up striking out, one of Carrasco's five strikeout victims on the night.
Rasmus' home run in the fourth inning also marked the final two runs allowed by Carrasco. The ace pitched through the seventh and one out in the eighth, allowing just one single and issuing one walk after the home run.
Even during his personal rough patches, Carrasco has had virtually no issues with walks this season. He has walked more than three batters just once (on June 19), and he has walked one or fewer in every start, including tonight, since August 2. The Cookie Monster is back.
Offensively, Francisco Lindor had another three-hit game like he has a league-leading 23 times this season. At this point, Lindor having huge games isn't news so let's look at Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer. The former quietly had himself a three-hit game as well, even if he did screw up running to second. While Guyer, pinch-hitting for Tyler Naquin int he the fifth inning, doubled to score Chisenhall and Rajai Davis.
I did not see any objections to the move on Twitter, but in case there were any: Stop it. Naquin was preparing to face a lefty, Kevin Chapman, and he is really bad against lefties. Guyer, as it turns out, is pretty darn good against them. Losing Naquin for the remaining three or four innings seems like it would hurt, but we saw the best outcome of the decision. If there is an opening to get the good platoon in the fifth inning in a big spot, you take it. It's easy to defend because the outcome was favorable, but even if it wasn't, it was the right move.
Mike Napoli (apparent leader of the Indians???) did not necessarily have a great game, but he did make a baseball regret coming into work today. His towering blast in the fifth inning took the lead back for the Tribe after they trailed, 2-3. They were up, 4-3, after the home run and never looked back.
There are a lot of feelings I get when Andrew Miller takes the mound, but fear is rarely one of them. Maybe fear for the embarrassment I am about to witness when other grown men are about to try and hit his slider, but rarely fear that he will not produce. However, that is exactly what I had tonight when he came into the game in the eighth inning. His fist batter was gross and resulted in a home run, then two batters later he allowed a single.
Miller's pitch selection was especially weird. He threw nothing but sliders in six pitches against Yulieski Gurriel, who eventually homered off of him. Between Teoscar Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Tyler White, he threw six in 12 pitches. Not sure what's up there, but it's worth noting that, in maybe his worst-looking appearance as a member of the Indians, Miller still only allowed one run and he got both of his outs via strikeouts. I think he's going to be okay, guys.
All these Andrew Miller hot takes have me like... pic.twitter.com/5VKuQwZfvc— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 8, 2016
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Here's an image that showed up in our photo tool. I have absolutely no idea what to use it for, but I can't in good conscience let it go to waste.