Under the dome in Houston, Mike Clevinger pitched the best game of his career and shut down the Houston Astros. Hitless through six and scoreless through seven, he led the Cleveland Indians to a 3-0 victory. With a win tomorrow, the Indians will sweep the Astros, who have lost only one series this season.
Clevinger consistently fooled Astros hitters this afternoon. Did he have a little bit of help from Francisco Lindor and the rest of the Indians defense (minus Edwin Encarnacion, who Bucknered a ball)? Sure, but no-hit bids that don’t have significant fielding support are rare. Even when Clevinger made “mistakes,” I don’t think they were bad at all. Both of the walks he allowed were on close pitches against dangerous hitters. I don’t mind that Clevinger stayed safe when Carlos Correa had a 3-1 count in a close game.
Clevinger’s no-hit bid ended on the first pitch of the bottom of the 7th inning. A fastball floated back toward the middle of the plate, and Jose Altuve jumped all over it with a single fair down the third base line. Did powerful Canadian voodoo cause Clevinger’s bid to fall apart? Probably. No damage came from it, though; Clevinger cajoled a double play out of Correa, and Beltran flew out to deep left.
He returned to start the 8th, but Tito pulled him after allowing a leadoff single. I feel comfortable saying that this is the Indians’ MO now when it comes to starting pitchers. Send them out if the first batter doesn’t represent the tying run, and let them cruise as long as they feel comfortable. I doubt anyone but Bauer would ever approach 120 pitches, however.
Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall both smacked two hits, while Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Chisenhall contributed with RBIs. One of Chisenhall’s was an absolute bomb to straightaway center field, his sixth home run of the season. He’s quietly putting together a nice little season, and is the fifth-best player on the team by fWAR behind Lindor, Ramirez, Brantley, and Gomes.
Speaking of Gomes, his hit today was... unconventional. I won’t rehash it too much because I already went into detail in another article, but he hit the roof of the stadium and ended up getting a single out of it.
Other items of note
- As pleasantly surprised as I was by Chisenhall’s general competence in center field, he fits much better in right field. In the bottom of the ninth Cody Allen allowed a line drive to to right. Chisenhall hardly moved when catching it, then fired a strike to Encarnacion to double up George Springer. That, combined with his recent close-calls robbing home runs, give me quite a bit of faith in him for the rest of this season.
- Jose Ramirez blasted a ball to deep left that Carlos Gonzalez caught up against the wall. Is he suffering the worst luck on the team on batted balls like that, or does the title belong to Jason Kipnis?
- The Dome helped out everyone today, I think. Not only was it 89 degrees and miserably muggy today in Houston, but three games around baseball have been postponed or delayed at this point today.
- Yan Gomes continues to be a terrifying defensive catcher this season. He is 10 of 19 against base stealers this season, which is the best percentage in all of baseball. Only three other catchers have caught more payers stealing this season (Grandal, Contreras, Realmuto).
The Indians send Danny Salazar out tomorrow against Joe Musgrove to go for the sweep. It’s been too long since we last saw that Golden Girls gif.