The guests at Progressive Field witnessed a handful of bombs, some ugly boots, and a palpitation-inducing 9th inning on a beautiful Memorial Day. The Cleveland Indians topped the Oakland Athletics 5-3, driving their record to 26-23. They inch a game closer to the Minnesota Twins today, who gave up (gulp) eleven runs in the 8th inning to the Houston Astros.
The Bombs, all solo
Austin Jackson opened scoring with a home run in the third inning off of A’s starter Daniel Mengden. The Indians didn’t have to wait much longer for additional runs to hit the board, as sluggers Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion crushed no doubt back-to-back shots in the 4th. A single from Yan Gomes and a sacrifice fly from Jackson — his second in as many days — boosted the Indians to five.
The other three bombs? A back-to-back job in response. Yonder Alonso hit his tenth home run of the month (he’s never hit more than nine in a season) and Ryan Healy smoked the next pitch into the bleachers. In the top of the 9th, Khris Davis skied a ball that briefly entered the moon’s orbital influence before returning to Earth beyond the left field wall.
Of all the home run hitters today, only Jackson’s failed to barrel the ball.
Jed Lowrie had a miserable game in the field.
I’d show the other error that he committed but it’s too gruesome to be shown on a family blog. These represented the 50th and 51st errors of the season for the Athletics; no other team in Major League Baseball has committed 40 or more.
Lowrie isn’t the only A’s player who endured a rough defensive game. Stephen Vogt continues to turn singles into doubles with his noodle arm. Jose Ramirez and Bradley Zimmer converted a double steal in the bottom of the 6th, while Ramirez swiped a solo bag in the 8th.
A review of the Indians pitching today
Somewhat more detailed analysis
Carlos Carrasco pitched an excellent game. He surrendered a couple of home runs, but those happened to be the only mistakes he made on the day. He allowed four hits while striking out seven and walking one. Throughout most of the day A’s hitters worked from behind and struggled as the shadows crept across the field.
Andrew Miller waltzed onto the field for the 8th and struck out the side on fifteen pitches. It’s difficult to ask for much better support than that. The only thing that disappoints me is the increased use of Miller in the prototypical setup man role. I understand that Miller can’t pitch two and two-thirds every other day, and it’s easy to look at the top of the ninth and say “Miller should have just tossed a six out close,” but we know his talents are best used in more dynamic situations.
Cody Allen. Oh, good old Cody Allen. When the dust settled in the 9th, he recorded his fourteenth save in fifteen chances. Did he give up a solo home run? Yes. Did he follow that up by allowing the tying run to reach first best? You betcha. One swing of the bat meant the Indians would trot back out and attempt to salvage what once appeared to be an easy win. Fortunately for everyone, the increasingly wobbly high-wire act that is a Cody Allen close did not topple into disaster.
Elsewhere in the league
Hunter Strickland drilled Bryce Harper and punched him in the face when Harper charger him pic.twitter.com/7QNliRl55K— That Dude (@cjzer0) May 29, 2017
If you believe Matt Underwood and Rick Manning, the bottom of the scrum when the benches clear always turns into vicious face-spiking and neck-biting. Whether or not Hunter Strickland meant to hit Bryce Harper, I have to give him some kind of strange respect for facing Harper when he charged and landing the better of the punches. Especially after it looked like Harper was going to smash him over the head with his helmet (and I think he was, he just probably realized that he’d be out of baseball for quite some time if he did). Does that kind of thing belong on the diamond? Nope, but it’s part of the game for better or worse.
Other items of note
Jose Ramirez. He slapped two doubles and drew a walk along with his two steals in a 3-for-3 performance.
When the helmet is flying, the Hamster is soaring. While he didn’t jack any home runs today he provided consistency in the middle of the Indians order that helped force the A’s to use four pitchers in the first of a four-game series.
The last thing to note: Francisco Lindor’s hit streak comes to an end, but Michael Brantley’s continues.
The Indians and A’s are back at it tomorrow with a 6:10 ET start.