Starting 2017 off with a series win against the the American League’s “best” team of 2016 is no small feat. The Tribe ran their winning streak to two with a solid 4-3 victory over Texas tonight.
As satisfying as this was, it’s just another step in the inevitable march toward 162-0.
Unlike yesterday’s game, this one got off on the right foot with 2017’s first trip to Cloud City — a right-handed Carlos Santana bomb to lead off the game. Santana added an RBI single in the second inning to put the Tribe up 3-0 and on the path toward what looked like an easy win. The other Carlos had a bit of the early season jitters, though, making this one a bit more interesting.
Carlos Carrasco cruised through the first inning, but seemed to lose control of his secondary stuff in the second. Unable to spot his breaking stuff, and perhaps squeezed a bit by the home plate ump, Cookie conceded a #MonsterDong to Joey Gallo to bring the Texas Rangers within one. Carrasco struggled for the next few innings but eventually settled in, holding the Rangers to just two runs and finishing the night early (as planned) with a solid line including seven strikeouts.
It was a close one throughout, but the high drama was reserved for the ninth inning. Tito handed Cody Allen the ball to close it out.
Staked with a 4-2 lead thanks to a Dr. Smooth insurance run and a seven-pitch eighth inning from Andrew Miller, Allen went to work. Lucky for him that work is pro baseball and not construction, otherwise the ninth inning would have been littered with OSHA violations. After getting two strikes on Nomar Mazara, Mazara punched a neck-high fastball down the line for a leadoff double. Mike Napoli looked poised to strike out like a clown, but instead treated Ranger fans a casual gathering at his pied a terre, just missing a homer with a double of the base of the wall in left.
With the Tribe lead cut to one run, Allen hunkered down. He fought through a nine-pitch at bat to strikeout Rougned Odor, then blew away Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo to slam the door. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, but who can argue with the result.
Narratives of note
Carlos Carrasco’s elbow
After missing a chunk of spring training with elbow soreness, Carrasco starting the season on the disabled list was a distinct possibility. Instead, Tito and the front office felt confident handing him the ball for game two, with a soft pitch limit in mind. After a couple innings, you started to wonder weather that was the right call, but Cookie really settled in and was able to start hitting his spots consistently. There’s little evidence to point to any lingering injury.
Yan Gomes’s bad luck
It’s hard to feel anything but sympathy for Yan at this point. Gomes walked, grounded out, and struck out in his first three at bats, and the frustration was obvious in his body language. Unfortunately, nothing about his fourth at bat changed that. After crushing two foul woulda-been-homers in a row, Gomes whiffed on a high heater. He sulked back to the dugout, briefly raising his bat over his head in anger before realizing any attempt at snapping his bat would probably result in a shattered femur given his current streak of luck. One starts to wonder if they should’ve sacrificed a live chicken last year.
Francisco Lindor’s struggles
On the topic of frustration, and with all SSS caveats noted, Frankie appears to be straining to start off the season. He’s swing early in counts, rolling over on a lot of balls, and has yet to make solid contact. Maybe it’s a World Baseball Classic hangover but more likely, it’s just the baseball. This, too, shall pass.
Michael Brantley talks to himself
Dr. Smooth had an uncharacteristic game in that he struck out twice despite also delivering two hits. But something seemed to click with him in his fourth at bat. After swinging through a breaking pitch, Michael had a bit of a chat with himself at the plate. “Wait on it,” he told himself. And wait he did, slapping the next pitch through a hole on the left side of the infield for an RBI single.
Andrew Miller does Andrew Miller things
Miller got three outs on seven pitches in the 8th inning.
This was another solid win, and one that provided a handful of great character-building moments — if you’re into that sort of thing. Beating a team like the Rangers, even in April, always feels good. Tomorrow, we go for the sweep with Danny Salazar on the bump.