There were a lot of frustrating things about tonight’s game, a less-close-than-it-looks 4-2 loss to the Astros. It’s tempting to point fingers and try to find someone to blame but before we do that, it’s important to acknowledge that Dallas Keuchel is really good. Even the best hitting lineups get shut down by guys of his caliber, and this game was no exception. Now, onto the blame...
What went down
It’s no secret I’m not a big Josh Tomlin fan, and I was absolutely ready to write a recap focused on just how crappy he is and how he has no place on the Tribe roster. Thing is, he actually pitched a solid game tonight, about as good as we could ever realistically expect from him. He painted the corners with aplomb, and even managed to fool a few of Houston’s heaviest hitters. Things got hairy a few times, but Josh managed to make the right pitch when needed to avoid impending catastrophe. When all was said and done, Josh had allowed just three runs over the course of six inning, even uncharacteristically notching six strikeouts. So how did the Indians manage to lose a rare quality start by Josh Tomlin? Well, back to that whole Dallas Keuchel being good things...
Keuchel was at the top of his game tonight. Indians hitters clearly came in with a strategy to attack Keuchel early in the count, and they had some moderate success in the early innings. The big lefty struggled ever so slightly, allowing a walk in the 1st and double in the 2nd, but managed to induce inning-ending double plays in both innings. In the third Austin Jackson, of all people, took him deep, but three induced groundouts signalled that Keuchel had flipped the switch. Over the next two innings, the “strike early” strategy started to bite Tribe hitters in the butt as Keuchel retired six in a row on 14 total pitches. No Indians hitter reached base again until the 6th, when Carlos Santana walked - and was immediately erased by Houston’s third double play of the night.
Thanks to his efficient middle innings, Keuchel was able to work deep into the game with few issues. The Indians made a few loud outs here and there, but only managed one more measly run on a too-little, too-late Michael Brantley solo homer in the 9th. The Tribe’s best chance came when Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana reached on BABIP-y trash with two out in the 8th. Francisco Lindor came to bat with a chance to bring the Tribe back and make up for an earlier error. Unfortunately, Angry Frank failed to make an appearance as Lindor lined out harmlessly to end the inning. Keuchel survived the Brantley homer and a rocky 9th to close out a complete game having allowed six hits.
Narratives of note
The Chronicles of Reddick
Dallas Keuchel was the big story, but Josh Reddick certainly left his mark on this one. Started in CF for the injured George Springer, Reddick made the defensive highlight of the game by robbing Jason Kipnis of a homer that would’ve put the Tribe within one run. Check out this beauty. Oh, he also contributed three RBI. Not too shabby.
Gomes’ bad juju has spread to other teams
In the 8th inning, Yan Gomes hit one of those trash pop-ups that seems destined to fall for a hit, which it did. But it only fell due to a nasty collision between a charging Teoscar Hernandez and a sprinting Jose Altuve. Altuve left the field on his own, but he’ll undoubtedly be examined for concussion symptoms. Hernandez wasn’t so lucky. His knee collided directly with Altuve’s, possibly twisting a bunch of stuff out of whack. He had to be carted off the field.
For penance the guilt-ridden Gomes threw away a a Nori Aoki squibber in the 9th, allowing Aoki to eventually score a key insurance run for Houston.
In the most recent battle of badass, outstanding shortstops (BOSS) Carlos Correa got the better of Francisco Lindor. Correa went 2-4 and made a fine diving stop and threw Brandon Guyer out to end the game. Frankie went hitless, made an error, and failed to complete a couple would-have-been-awesome plays. Get ‘em tomorrow, Frankie.
The last word
In a showdown between Dallas Keuchel and Josh Tomlin, this is about the best we could have hoped for. Tomlin performed admirably, but the Tribe offense couldn’t overcome and outstanding performance by Keuchel. This says nothing about our long-term hopes for success against Houston or teams like Houston in the playoffs. It’s simply a great pitcher shutting down a great lineup, which happens very often in this game. Don’t dwell on this one too much.