Jason Kipnis would probably wouldn’t be hitless forever. Neither would Yan Gomes, and neither would anyone else in the lineup with a name that doesn’t rhyme with Shmose Shmaierez when there are runners in scoring position. Francisco Lindor would probably not be a below-average defender forever. Josh Tomlin would probably not give up half a dozen runs every time out. The Cleveland Indians would probably not lose to the San Diego Padres until the end of time.
Tonight’s big win over the Padres was the positive resolution of several likelihoods for the Tribe, and damn was it fun to watch.
Oh, and another one: Bradley Zimmer probably won’t make a diving catch every single game. Just kidding, he will. He absolutely will. As he has done in every game since he was a bouncing baby boy in the streets of La Jolla, California, the Tribe’s towering center fielder did it again tonight with a spectacular leaping grab in the first inning that robbed Wil Myers of a hit.
RT SInow "Can't score tix to the new Spider-Man movie? Just flip to an Indians game and watch Bradley Zimmer play … pic.twitter.com/iTzi4yiUr3"— Dak (@dak2zeke) July 6, 2017
This was the first time Myers has been a victim of an instant classic catch by Zimmer, but he’s been abysmal in this series for San Diego — 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts. And somehow the Padres still won two games in this series. That’s been the story of this series, in a way. Just this “how do they keep winning” thought process that only leads to sadness for the Indians. But things turned around tonight.
The top-third of the Indians order, which has struggled lately, combined to go 4-for-13 with two walks. Jason Kipnis even had a double and eventually scored. Maybe most bizarre of all, Yan Gomes hit a home run that went 433 feet, and another blazing single that caught the Padres third baseman completely off guard. I wasn’t sure he was capable of either of things anymore, but at least it proves he’s a Let’s Go Tribe reader. You’re welcome for the free motivation, Yan.
Jose Ramirez did not need any positive regression, but he kept being amazing anyway. The Angry Hamster went 3-for-5 on the day, with a home run and three runs batted in. If anything, Ramirez regressed in a bad way, given his three TOOTBLANs. He did manage to sneak second base on a sacrifice fly, but the rest of his aggression on the bases was met with outs. I get the need to be aggressive, I get it’s his playstyle, but it’s only cute when the Tribe are winning. Like Rajai Davis stealing third base so often last year — if it works, it’s great. If it doesn’t, it’s a waste of time. So most of the time, it probably isn’t worth it.
That said, though, Ramirez is out of this world right now. And if he wants to try to grab an extra base when the Tribe are up by a handful of runs, go for it. You do you, Hamster. Just keep hitting dingers and being the clutch to end all clutches. Now, if only he were higher in the lineup to get more chances to do all these amazing things. But that’s just crazy talk.
Ramirez and the player directly ahead in fWAR (one of five), Mookie Betts, are both playing game 83. Betts has 38 more plate appearances.— Kevin Dean (@kvnbsbl) July 7, 2017
The Indians scored three runs quickly in this game — thanks to Michael Brantley’s triple and Ramirez’s home run in the first inning — and it’s a good thing they did. Without those two runs, only getting two out of a bases loaded, no out situation in the third inning would feel eerily similar to the first two losses in this series. More runners in scoring position, more max effort for the minimum amount of runs. Instead, the Indians were up four against a rebuilding team after two sac flies in the inning. That’s the way it should be if the Indians are serious about competing. None of this “losing 1-0 with your ace on the mound” business. Score runs, win baseball.
Even Josh Tomlin, whose mere name makes Indians fans a little nervous every five days, had a great outing. One rocky fifth outing aside, Tomlin had his best outing in more than a month. His seven innings pitched were the most since he threw 7.1 against the Kansas City Royals on June 2, and his two earned runs were the fewest since he allowed one against those same Royals on May 28.
This is the good Tomlin that has not showed up nearly enough this season. The kind of Tomlin that pounds the strike zone and manages to not give up three or more home runs. The kind of Tomlin that can breeze through eight innings on fewer than 100 pitches. The kind of Tomlin that wins. That’s who showed up tonight.
When Tomlin got shaky, the Indians did something that feels rare this year: The responded with runs of their own. The Padres scored two in the top of the inning, and Edwin Encarnacion took one right back with a mammoth home run, his eighteenth of the season, and his first since June 20. Hey, there’s another one. “Edwin Encarnacion probably wouldn’t slump forever.” And he didn’t. And it was good.
Now, you could say all of this is worthless because it’s “only against the Padres,” but you would be wrong. It’s possible for the Indians to look bad against a team like the Padres, just look at the first two games of the series. I don’t care who they were playing, this team was special tonight. Hopefully it carries over to the next series against the Detroit Tigers and against every team they face for the next four months.