Like many teams before them, and many teams that will come after them, the Cleveland Indians faced Clayton Kershaw and lost. They put up a better fight than most, and a couple of unlikely heroes emerged — so the night wasn’t a total loss.
To his credit, Trevor Bauer dueled Kershaw effectively for most of his 5.2 innings tonight. Things got a little shaky at the end, saved by Andrew Miller making Yasiel Puig look silly with the bases loaded, but overall it was the kind out “good Bauer” we’ve come to expect at this point. Three walks isn’t ideal, but when it’s paired with five strikeouts and just six hits against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s far from terrible.
Bauer’s biggest mistake came against Puig early in the game. He left a ball almost dead center in the middle of the plate and Puig crushed it. Following Bauer’s mistake, Puig might have made his own when he flipped a double bird to someone in the stands, most likely a fan that was chirping at him during the at-bat.
Kershaw himself was seemingly kept off balance all night, at least by his sky-high standards. He still lasted seven innings and allowed only two runs, but Roberto Perez of all people took him for a home run, and he threw a couple bad pitches to Michael Brantley, one of which went for a double and caused Kershaw to levitate in anger.
My goodness, this picture of Kershaw angrily jumping is something else pic.twitter.com/IFC6AmP9U8— Catlos (@ccaarrllooss) June 14, 2017
Kershaw’s four strikeouts were tied for a season-low, and this is just the fourth time this season he has allowed more than one run in a start.
Maybe even rarer than Kershaw having an “off” day, was Andrew Miller allowing a run. After saving Bauer’s behind in the sixth, Miller was left in the game by Terry Francona for nearly two innings. It would have been two innings, at least, if Cody Bellinger didn’t break one of the ten commandments by homering off Miller to lead off the eighth. Following that, Miller allowed a single to Yasmani Grandal and was taken out of the game and forced to go live life with an ERA over 0.50.
Despite the high, the game was mostly a low-scoring, hard-fought contest by the Indians until just about the end. Three of the Dodgers’ seven runs came in the ninth, when Boone Logan — pitching for the first time in nearly a week — allowed Cody Bellinger’s second run of the evening. Prior to that, the game was always at least in range for the Indians, either within a run or two or tied. Like so many games this season, they just couldn’t grab a lead and hold it.
Thanks to Daniel Robertson they almost did, though, because after Bradley Zimmer finally made an appearance in the game, things started to miraculously happen. Zimmer himself hit, then he used his wizard powers to cause a strikeout to get by the Dodgers catcher and keep everything alive with two outs. Then Robertson — clearly inspired by the site of Zimmer’s goatee on the field — hit the first home run of his career to prevent the box score from showing a blowout until we all fade to dust.
A lot of this is standard fair for a loss. A blown bullpen, a dominant opposing pitcher, a comeback that falls just short, all textbook stuff. But the Indians also had to deal with some poor defense, namely from Jason Kipnis. Kip mishandled a key ball in the eighth inning with one out, allowing an extra run to score. Of course it didn’t matter in the end with Bellinger’s dinger, but Kipnis’s slowly declining defense isn’t fun to watch. At least he managed to double twice of Clayton Kershaw. He’ll always have that.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go meticulously find all the ways this game could have been won if Bradley Zimmer started instead of Austin Jackson.