At the beginning of today, the Cleveland Indians were a game back of the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central lead. Now, as we head into Father’s Day, the Tribe sits a game ahead of the Twins after winning both games of today’s double header. The nightcap featured much of the same from the earlier game: good pitching and solid offense against a left handed starter and the Twins bullpen. The only difference tonight was that there was a lengthy rain delay in the middle of the game that shortened Mike Clevinger’s otherwise solid start.
Two starters from Columbus, Ryan Merritt and Mike Clevinger, were both brought up to make starts for the Indians in today’s double header. Both pitched well, but Clevinger pitched better. In the four innings of work, Clevinger put up four innings of 1-run ball while allowing just a single run on an RBI double off the bat of Joe Mauer. Throughout his short start, Clevinger had a great curveball that sat in the mid-70s all game and had a huge amount of movement. He only struck out four, but he had hitters off balance all game. Had the rain not intervened, it’s not unreasonable to think that Clevinger would have pitched at least two more innings since he only threw 71 pitches (44 of which were strikes). One of Clevinger’s issues that he has been trying to overcome is his capacity to give up walks; tonight, Mike only allowed one free pass. I said earlier in the season that we would definitely see more of Clevinger as the season wore on, and tonight was evidence that he will definitely get some more playing time in Cleveland very, very soon.
Probably a happier story for the Tribe is the sudden offensive outburst. Over the first three games of this series, the Indians have scored a total of 23 runs (or an average of 7.6/game). On the year, Cleveland was averaging 4.44 runs per game; that number has jumped to 4.61 after these three games. The Indians had 11 hits in the nightcap and 4 of them went over the fence for a home run. Austin Jackson, who many on this site loathe to see play, hit the first bomb of the day on a laser to left center that got out of the park in probably 0.74 seconds. Two batters later, the recently maligned Lonnie “Chisentray” Chisenhall stepped to the plate. Lonnie saw four pitches in that at bat, and the first three were fouled off with authority. It was clear that he was seeing the ball well out of Adalberto Mejia’s hand, he just wasn’t squaring it up. My immediate thought was “he’s going to square one up”. On the postgame interview, Chisenhall said that as the fourth pitch flew towards the plate, he whispered “this one’s for you, Lyons” just as the ball connected with his bat and flew way out to right field and over the fence.
Lonald wouldn’t stop there. No sir, he had more to prove. After bunting on three consecutive pitches and fouling out in yesterday’s game, Chisenhall decided he preferred murderizing the ball and blasted an even more majestic home run in the sixth inning, bringing in Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson with him. 4 RBIs for the Chisentray tonight as he was the backbone of the offense on the evening. Wanting to also get in on the party, Francisco Lindor (who we totally should really be absolutely worried about, right?) smacked his thirteenth home run of the year on the ninth pitch of his at-bat in the eighth inning.
- Carlos Santana has been struggling recently, so it was fantastic to see him have a fantastic three hit game in the evening. His OPS is north of .700 now, so things are looking up.
- Defensively, this was not Cleveland’s sharpest night as they made 2 errors. One happened on a pickoff attempt by Mike Clevinger when he airmailed a ball into center field. Luckily, the offense made the errors tolerable. But seriously guys, tighten it up.
- Andrew Miller is too damn good. It took him 10 pitches (#scrub) to get the final three outs of tonight’s game, and that includes Eddie Rosario reaching base on an error by Jose Ramirez.
- Giovanny Urshela played today. I don’t get it either.
- For the first time since May 10, the Minnesota Twins are not in first place in the AL Central.
The Tribe has now won four games in a row and looks to make it five tomorrow in the series finale of the Twins. A win would put Cleveland two games up in the AL Central, a loss would tie them again with Minnesota. Will they finally make it to five games above .500?! Only Trevor Bauer has that answer. He will face off against Kyle Gibson tomorrow at 2:10 PM.