Well that was a game.
In a contest that had a little bit of everything, Austin Jackson leaping approximately 40 feet over a knee-high wall and making a catch while flipping over said wall stands out above it all. Above the Tribe lineup getting to Chris Sale, above Francisco Lindor’s game-tying home run in the ninth, above Craig Kimbrel’s wild pitch to give the Cleveland Indians a lead. Jackson’s incredible catch stands above it all. And a step above that are all the ways the Indians absolutely threw this game away.
Take a look one more time; you can bet there will be more on it tomorrow. Enjoy your last moment of happiness before this recap gets real depressing, real quick.
There are no words to describe this catch.— MLB (@MLB) August 2, 2017
, Austin Jackson. pic.twitter.com/SzrL7AwqXK
As for the rest of the game — what the hell? The Indians deserved to lose at several points throughout, and they also looked like a clear cut winners at others. For starters, Jose Ramirez gave away a free out in the first inning with no outs and runners on first and second. Runners on first and second against Chris Sale, mind you — the best pitcher in the American League. Worst of all, the bunt didn’t even work, even with the most flattering definition of a bunt working, as Jose’s bunt went straight to third for an out.
Carlos Santana doubled to wipe away the mistake, and the Indians were off and running. Between the three runs scored in the first inning and two more on a Brandon Guyer home run in the second, the Indians jumped out to a five-run lead against Chris Sale. Wrap it up, boys. Carlos is on the mound let’s go home. No wait, why is everyone tweeting out stupid cookie crumbling jokes, why is the score going up, nooooooooo.
Carrasco’s outing was equally ineffective as Sale’s, but much, much shorter. Manager Terry Francona pulled him after just 1.2 innings, the shortest start of his career not cropped by an injury.
Weirdly enough, Carrasco will get almost none of the blame for this loss, but maybe he should get a little bit of it. The bullpen is absolutely gassed right now, and it was clear tonight. They had to pick up the slack for Mike Clevinger last night, and they had to pitch an entire game for Cookie tonight. As a result, Tyler Olson came out looking like a superstar, while Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen combined to allow seven runs over 2.1 innings.
Let’s talk about that bullpen a bit. Bryan Shaw was atrocious. I’m generally on the pro side of the Great Bryan Shaw War, but not when he has a night like this. Four batters faced, three hits, and three earned runs. That’s ugly, and it’s all on him. I don’t care that he’s good in aggregate, or that he’s good for a third option in the bullpen. He was atrocious tonight, and right now that’s what matters.
On the same exact note is Andrew Miller not doing his dang job. He wasn’t entirely awful — pedestrian maybe, which is pretty awful by his own sky-high standards — but he completely and utterly failed in a high-leverage situation. That’s what he’s here to do, to diffuse high-leverage situations. Such as, for a completely random example, if some hypothetical pitcher named Shyan Braw leaves runners on first and third with one out in the sixth-inning with three-run lead. It’s Miller’s job to come in and put the fire out. It’s the kind of bullpen usage we’ve always begged Terry Francona (and other managers) to do forever now, to not pointless hold onto your best reliever until the bases are empty in the ninth inning. Tito executed it flawlessly. Miller did not.
It’s Shaw’s fault those runners were there, and it’s Shaw’s fault the first run of the inning scored, but it is in no way Shaw’s fault that Miller hit a batter then allowed a triple. Andrew Miller failed at his job tonight. A lot of Indians fans, especially those who want to place every single Indians failure on Shaw, need to realize that.
Oh yeah, and Cody Allen wasn’t great either. I hesitate to say he was total garbage, because he did technically win the game with a two-out strikeout. But due to an arcane rule and a catcher (Yan Gomes) who didn’t realize the batter swung, Mitch Moreland was able to sprint to first on a ball in the dirt that should have been a game-ended swinging strike.
In a game where the Indians got to Chris Sale, came back late against one of the game’s best closers, and saved a run with maybe the greatest catch we’ll ever see, it ultimately winds up as one of the most gun-wrenching regular season loses ever because of one swing from some guy named Christian Vazquez.
If Gomes stops the ball in the dirt, or if Vazquez strikes out, we all have a good laugh at this heart-pounding game and look ahead to the rubber match tomorrow. But baseball likes to rip your heart out like that. It’d just be nice if it would stop doing it to the Indians for a little while.