You might be aware that the Cleveland Indians now own the longest uninterrupted winning streak in the history of professional baseball. They notched win number 22 last night courtesy of a walk-off double by one of the loosest men alive, Jay Bruce.
During the bottom of the 9th, I was stuck in the car listening to the game. There’s nothing wrong with this, as getting Tom Hamilton’s call of Lindor’s double is a perfectly acceptable experience. Once the Indians tied the game, it’s safe to say that I disregarded several traffic laws in the Hilliard/Dublin area of Ohio. When they won it, I am surprised that no one in my building came to complain or see if someone had been murdered.
I feel a little sheepish diving into this Close Examination; focusing so intently on a moment packed with this kind of intensity is a little like staring directly at a supernova from four feet away.
As always, we’ll start off with a video of the hit and break it down from there. We have a couple of versions this time for reasons that will soon be obvious.
JAY BRUCE WALK OFF FOR 22 STRAIGHT WINS FOR THE INDIANS— Matt Allaire (@AllaireMatt) September 15, 2017
WITH HAMMY'S CALL
WITH TITANIC MUSIC pic.twitter.com/HVTljuJAaf
It brings a tear to my eye.
There is so much to get at here, and some of it isn’t included with the clips above. I want to start with the pitch itself.
That’s not the best spot to leave a pitch. Or maybe Maurer was just really unlucky! What if this pitch is actually the pitch type that Bruce hits least often, and it just so happens that middle-middle is his worst hitting zone?
I believe this is the AP accepted terminology: lol nope.
The third pitch, which Bruce smashed at 110 MPH for a double, is a 96 MPH fastball. A four-seamer. Bruce hits .270 on all four-seam fastballs, but based on his heatmap I think the percentage might be a little bit higher for this particular area.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that the only pitches Bruce hits better than a four-seamer are a two-seamer and a sinker. Maurer had the right idea to challenge Bruce inside. I think he overcorrected on the third one, maybe. Go back and listen to the sound of Bruce’s bat walloping the pitch. The ball is absolutely blasted, and it scoots toward the right field corner. And guess who had the best seat in the house to see it land?
KETCHUP. FUCKING KETCHUP. Mustard couldn’t be there for the hit because he was blowing in Andre Knott’s ears, probably.
The party began the moment the ball touched the ground. Ramirez strolled home as the Indians dugout overflowed onto the field. Bruce barely gets to breathe before his teammates pounce on him and start an epic mobbing.
First of all, we need to say hello to an old friend: THE CHISENTRAY. It’s been a long time since we last spotted the tray, which played a crucial role in last season’s run to the World Series. The Indians walk-off celebration game has evolved since last season, though. The team doused Bruce in a week’s worth of baby powder and who knows what else throughout the mobbing. I’m also pretty sure he’s got seven or eight bruises in the exact shape of Jose Ramirez’s hand on his back this morning.
Ah, and then the shot of the crowd, with the Indians’ flag cruising past. I honestly can’t remember ever seeing the place so fired up. The only other moments that comes to mind would be Naquin’s inside-the-park walk-off, Rajai’s dinger in Game 7, Eddie Murray’s walk-off in Game 3 of the 1995 World Series, or maybe the “WOW” homerun.
EVEN THIS GUY IS FIRED UP IN HIS OWN WAY
Some people make beer can pyramids when they get excited at the ballgame. Others scream and jump all over the place. This man calmly adjusts his transistor radio headphones while levitating a box of popcorn. Don’t say he’s not lit. You don’t even know. This is as excited as he’s been since the moon landing, when he chugged a whole glass of milk. Besides, sometimes hype gets the better of you:
Berea native and Eastland Inn Karaoke champion Nate Rocheck said the following about the game: “It was the single most thrilling game I’ve ever attended, and I’m legitimately concerned that if the Indians pull off a World Series victory, there won’t be anything left of Cleveland by the following morning.”
Talk about hype. Well, maybe it’s the hype. It could also be the White Rajah. This guy, for example, is definitely hop-fueled at the moment.
Most importantly, the streak lives. The Indians go for win number 23 in a row tonight against the same Royals, though this time they send Trevor Bauer to the mound. Bauer is arguably baseball’s second hottest starting pitcher since the All-Star break. The hottest would be his teammate, Corey Kluber.
With any luck at all, we’ll have another phenomenal moment to examine, closely.