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Squirrel steals spotlight as Cleveland Indians lose 4-1

When the most exciting part of your day is an errant rodent running across the field, you’re gonna have a bad time.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians
The MVP of the game doesn’t even have a uniform.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As the headline indicates, today’s game was at best frustrating and at worst infuriating. If it weren’t for a squirrel running around Progressive Field in the sixth inning (that caused a significant delay to the point where the crowd began booing the umpires for not doing anything), this game would have had virtually no excitement for the home crowd.

First things first: Jose Berrios was a top prospect for a reason. In 2016, Berrios made Baseball Prospectus’ “Top 101 Prospects” list at #17. The Indians are certainly struggling right now, but Berrios pitched a helluva game. His 7.2 innings of work marked the longest outing of his young MLB career. During those 7.2 innings, Berrios continually kept hitters off balance by getting ahead in counts early and often. He allowed just four base runners (two hits, one walk, and a HBP), but at one point he retired thirteen batters in a row. After Francisco Lindor’s walk in the third inning, no Cleveland hitter would reach base until Lonnie Chisenhall got hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth inning. As nonexistent as the Cleveland offense has been recently, Berrios could have mowed down any lineup today with as sharp as he looked.

On the other hand, Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger flirted with disaster from the get-go until things finally came crashing down in the fifth inning. Clevinger walked a batter in each of the first three innings before he opened up the fourth inning with back to back walks to Robbie Grossman and Miguel Sano. Sure, the home plate umpire was CB Bucknor, but you can’t blame all of the walks on him; at some point, you have to find the strike zone, and Clevinger struggled all game to do so. With two men on and nobody out, Twins’ slugger Joe Mauer stepped to the plate and...bunted. Yes, the #4 hitter on the Twins bunted with two men on and nobody out. I guess the bright side is that Cleveland isn’t the only team that does these silly moves; the only difference being that it worked out for Minnesota. Clevinger attempted to make the throw to first for the out, but his throw instead flew into the outfield, allowing Mauer to reach safely and Grossman to immediately score and tie the game. Thanks to a wild pitch to Kennys Vargas, Joe Mauer was able to move up to second base. A groundout and a single by Vargas and Jorge Polanco respectively were able to score two more runs for Minnesota, extending their lead to 3-1.

The offense...I don’t want to talk about it. Really, please don’t make me do it. It’s too painful to reflect on the fact that the Indians, who last night had three hits, only managed three hits in today’s game as well. Sure, one of those hits was an almost-home run by Carlos Santana that ended up being a triple, but it’s not enough. The offense needs to do more. Clevinger left the game in the fifth inning having only given up three runs, which should not feel insurmountable. After the Max Kepler home run in the sixth inning, the game felt basically over.

Coming into today, Cleveland was ranked #22 out of 30 teams in terms of runs per game at 4.21. Last year, they were #6 with 4.72 runs per game. A four run performance by the pitching staff isn’t good, but it’s not terrible either. The Cleveland offense looked lost at the plate again today and never felt like they were in the game. I have a feeling that the offense is going to heat up and, overall, their numbers will be fine once the 2017 season concludes. But continually having multiple games in a row in which you only score a run or two is not going to be a recipe for success. The offense needs to figure it out, there’s no other way to say it.

Tribe Tidbits

  • Jose Ramirez made a couple of nice plays at third base, including a backwards basket catch in the ninth inning.
  • Cleveland’s 4-5-6 hitters combined to go 0-for-9 on the day. That is painful, but it doesn’t matter much when your 1-2-3 hitters combine to go 3-for-11.
  • The team BABIP is .282. Fun times.
  • Michael Brantley, with his two hits on the day, now has eleven multi-hit games on the season.
  • Jason Kipnis, in two separate at-bats, ripped a ball to right field only to have it slice just foul. But at least he’s making solid contact.
  • Yan Gomes is still a monster behind the plate. He threw out Brian Dozier twice when he attempted to steal second base.
  • I said above that you can’t blame CB Bucknor for everything, but that doesn’t mean he’s good at his job. His inconsistency behind the plate is one of the best arguments for robot umpires, and today was no exception.

The Tribe looks to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Twins tomorrow on Mother’s Day as Trevor Bauer goes head to head against Hector Santiago. Joy.