You might be tempted to look at the final score of tonight’s game and think the story of this game was an offensive outburst, but you’d be wrong. Well, you’d be kind of right but mostly wrong, because nothing that happened tonight can eclipse Carlos Carrasco’s performance.
What went down
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Carlos Carrasco is the Cleveland Indians’ ace. Not not pitcher #1b, not a co-ace, but capital A Ace. With Corey Kluber struggling and with no indication of how he’ll respond from his current back injury, the mind can go to dark places. Fortunately, there’s no need to look any further than Carrasco to find the next leader of the Tribe rotation.
Cookie was 100% on point tonight, hitting spots and working effortlessly without so much as a tiny bump in the road. You might have a different interpretation of the box score, but I’m pretty sure giving up just three hits over seven innings is good. Carrasco was so dominant that no Blue Jay even reached 2nd base against him, save for Jose Bautista who stole it. When a pitcher is that good, the offense is almost inconsequential.
That’s a good thing, because “almost inconsequential” could be the subtitle of a book about the May 2017 Indians lineup. As of the 6th inning of tonight’s game, it looked like more of the same:
Indians runs scored each game in May:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 10, 2017
2 (through 6 innings tonight)
The Tribe had gone up early thanks to a Lonnie Chisenhall double and a Yandy Diaz RBI groundout. The score stayed 2-0 through the 6th, but then something magical happened: the Indians scored four more runs! I mean, I guess if you wanted to be a Debbie Downer, you could point out that three of those runs came on one hit and most of the lineup still didn’t do much. But hey, let’s not go there for now. After all, that one hit was a Yan Gomes three-run homer. Yes, you read that right. Yan. Gomes. Homer.
All signs are pointing to Yan as being officially back. In addition to the homer, which was indeed a #MonsterDong, he contributed a single and a walk, and didn’t strike out. After tonight’s performance, he’s sitting at a cool 109 wRC+. If this is real... hoo boy.
With the Tribe up 6-0, and no need to stretch Cookie, Andrew Miller came in to mow down the bottom of the Jays’ order with alacrity. Nick Goody wrapped things up in the 9th, giving up a single but coming right back to induce a GIDP. That was all she wrote, and now the Tribe is in good shape to take the series win tomorrow.
Narratives of note
Edwin still sucks
Despite whatever signs of improvement we thought we’ve been seeing from Edwin Encarnacion, he’s still struggling. Like, a lot. He drew two walks tonight, but looked like an absolute clown striking out in his last two at bats of the even. In the 7th, he appeared to be a full second behind swing at strike three on a 93 mph Jason Grilli fastball. Grilli, for his part, celebrated as if he’d just won the lottery.
Kipnis still really sucks
Another 0-fer for Jason Kipnis tonight really has me wondering whether or not something is still wrong with the ol’ shoulder. He just looks absolutely hopeless out there, seemingly unable to make solid contact no matter the circumstances. While I doubt moving him down in the lineup will have a significant impact, it really doesn’t seem justifiable to keep giving him 5+ plate appearances per game.
Bullpen continues to roll
But enough of the negativity and cheekiness. Can we talk about the bullpen? It’s so damn good, you guys. Andrew Miller induced three quick outs today, but didn’t strike anyone out. He actually increased his xFIP after an easy 1-2-3 inning. That’s how insane he’s been. Don’t worry, though. He maintained his tidy ERA of 0.00.
Nick Goody has been making a hell of a first impression as part of the Tribe bullpen hydra. He allowed a single tonight, but also maintained his spiffy 0.00 ERA (though he has thrown 6 1⁄3 innings fewer than Miller).
The last word
While it seems a bit sad to celebrate six runs as an “outburst,” it felt great to finally win a game that wasn’t really ever in doubt. With Carrasco’s dominance and the awakening of Yan Gomes, the Indians might be able to survive the sustained struggles of Encarnacion, Kipnis, and Kluber. We’re a first place team as it is, and god help the rest of the AL if this ever all clicks together.