As I am discovering this season, there’s a thin line between pitcher’s duel and absolute borefest of a game. This game toed that line, but I feel it leaned toward the former through most of the standard nine innings. Jose Berrios is something else with the wicked movement on every pitch he throws, and Carlos Carrasco was dealing. Once they were both pulled, though (both after the 7th inning), it quickly flipped to a drawn out, boring game.
Both offenses popped up everything in sight; even the occasional base hit was rewarded with a couple pop outs to finish off what could otherwise be an exciting inning. I am here to continue reporting that Bradley Zimmer is continuing to hit. The big leggy hit boy is now on a five-game hitting streak, which includes two multi-hit games. He’s probably not ready to take the league by storm quiet yet, but at least he’s not whiffing every other at-bat anymore. Edwin Encarnacion is doing that enough for the both of them.
Ok, maybe that little cheap shot is unfair, especially considering Edwin got a hit tonight, but good Lindor, he does not look good at the plate. Other than a single (that was eventually made moot by a, you guessed it, fly ball), he enjoyed a night of, you guessed it, popping the ball up.
This was a night of wasted opportunities all over the field. Most notably, Roberto Perez somehow got to second base because Brian Dozier can’t throw, but that was quickly wasted because Greg Allen decided to bunt himself to an 0-2 count and eventually struck out against all odds. Then, in the 12th inning — long after we all accepted our fate of being forced to watch this play out until the very end — Erik Gonzalez became the world’s worst pinch-runner by refusing to advance from second to third on a deep fly ball. It wouldn’t have been a guaranteed free base, but if you’re in the game to run and do nothing else I think you have to go for that. Otherwise what purpose do you serve?
Lest you think such a long game would draw even a little bit of life away from Francisco Lindor, his spirits remained high. Even 13 innings into the game, even after going 0-for-5, even with three strikeouts. Nothing deterred him from being himself and it was great.
A lot has been over the weekend about decisions by both managers and how they played Puerto Rican-born players on their respective teams. I’ll put it to text here on this website that I’m okay with managers making baseball decisions over playing for the warm fuzzies. Corey Kluber likes to have Yan Gomes call his games — let him. Francisco Lindor was up to bat with two outs and a base open in the ninth inning — walk him. Roberto Perez is on second in a tight game and also happens to runs like a lawn mower in a swamp — pinch-run for him. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been neat to have Roberto Perez play in the first game in Puerto Rico, or let Francisco Lindor be the hero of the game again, but I’m not about to crucify either manager for trying to win regardless of what their heart might say.
Overall, the experience of watching a series in Puerto Rico was pretty great. Let me clarify that: The idea of watching a series in Puerto Rico was great. The Puerto Rican people were great with their marracas, loud cheers, and general exuberance for the game of baseball. But both broadcasts — FS1 yesterday and ESPN tonight — spent so much time interviewing whoever they could find on the island that they missed huge chunks of the game on the field. Instead of giving us a great baseball experience that happened to be in a beautiful territory, we had “If You LIke Pina Coladas” playing on repeat and Tim Kurkjian playing with a tiny drink umbrella.
At least Lindor’s robbing the Twins of a game-tying hit in the 13th inning and launching the ball into the stands was fun.
Game Recap Part II
Hi all, Tyler here. Because this game went 16 innings, it literally killed Matt. His dying words were “At least Lindor didn’t bunt...” just as a crazed Rob Manfred held the pillow over his face and transported him to his eternal slumber. Good night, sweet prince. But alas, as Matt drifted off somewhere in the 13th inning and the Indians decided that the game should continue for 3 more innings, I am picking up the mantle for our fallen leader since I’m out on the
best west coast and it’s only 9:30pm my time as the game is ending.
I had the game playing on the TV at the gym this evening. As I was leaving, I turned on the radio in my car as I drove to the grocery store. When I parked, Eduardo Escobar had just singled and sent Eddie Rosario to 3rd in the bottom of the 12th inning. I assumed that by the time I checked out and got back in my car, the game would be over. Lo and behold, I got back in my car to the end of the inning with the game heading into the 13th. I got home just in time to flip the game on and watch Joe Mauer ground out to end the 13th inning.
Two batters later, Edwin Encarnacion blasted a home run that dinged off the left field foul pole for the first run of the game. I say first because on the first pitch of the bottom half of the inning, Miguel Sano launched his own home run to the seats in left, tying the game again. You may be thinking “Oh he probably just ran into one, Sano has some pop in his bat, no shame in giving up a homer to him”. To which I say:
Horrible, horrible pitch. Matt Belisle is quickly becoming the worst. Or rather, he’s been the worst and Tito just doesn’t know it yet. Granted, I can’t really blame Tito since he had gone through virtually every warm body available to him. I’ll even give Belisle a pass since it was inning 14. But he shouldn’t pitch any high leverage situations going forward.
The Indians had chances to get the run back. The 15th inning started with a Yan Gomes double and a Brandon Guyer HBP. With two on and no outs, Lindor STARTS TO BUNT AGAIN. He ended up striking out so it didn’t matter anyway, but seriously. Why. Is. Lindor. Bunting. All. The. Time. The rest of the inning was uneventful and the Tribe found that they had two men on again in the 16th thanks to a Jose Ramirez walk and an Erik Gonzalez single. But nope, Rajai Davis struck out to end the inning.
Josh Tomlin came in in the 15th inning and just barely skated out of a walk-off situation after a single by Joe Mauer, a wild pitch and an errant throw by Yan Gomes put Mauer on third base. Sano couldn’t replicate his earlier power and flied out lazily to center field. But the walk-off wasn’t stopped, it was just delayed.
Eddie Rosario singled on the first pitch in the bottom of the 16th inning and tweaked his hamstring enough to temporarily pause the game but not enough to come out of it. Granted, I have no idea if the Twins had anyone left on the bench at this point, so for better or worse, Rosario stayed in. The next batter, Logan Morrison, hit a tailor-made double play ball to Jason Kipnis. Except what should have cleared the bases ended up with runners at the corners because the ball skipped past Kip into right field. After 5+ hours of a game in 743% humidity, I don’t blame Kip for this loss at all. The teams were playing on an astroturf field and the ball acted differently than expected. Monte said it best:
Jason Kipnis missed a back-handed stop on a hard hit ball on turf. Yeah, that sucked and it was an error.— Monte the Color Man (@Monte_Colorman) April 19, 2018
But come on. We lost because of a lack of offense. Kipnis included. But the whole team was 0-12 with RISP.
Well said, Monte. Anyway, Eduardo Escobar was intentionally walked to load the bases and Ryan LaMarre singled to center to walk it off for the Twins.
As Matt said above before his untimely passing, playing in Puerto Rico was awesome. Especially today when the island was, for the most part, without power, baseball brought 19,000 people (and countless others around the world) together for a few hours to celebrate. Maybe a few hours too many, but it was worth it. And, it gave us this awesome exchange: