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Indians sneak past Orioles in lightning-quick pitching duel

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The pitchers deserve a chance at the plate with the way they’re all throwing. It can’t hurt at the moment.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians continued its experiment as to whether or not an elite baseball team needs an offense in a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Carlos Carrasco pitched 7.1 innings, allowing only one run and striking out seven. His ERA dropped to 2.31 on the season. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen finished up the eighth and ninth, earning a hold and save respectively. Neither has allowed an earned run on the season.

Credit is due to Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. He pitched eight innings, giving up only four hits and striking out seven. Normally, a pitcher would expect to win a game in which he nearly goes the distance and holds the opponent to two runs. The problem is that Gausman plays for the Orioles, who rely entirely upon Manny Machado for run generation.

Then how did the Indians actually manage to score runs?

Yonder Alonso. In the second inning he plated himself and Edwin Encarnacion with a no-doubt 421-foot bomb. Would we prefer to see the Indians hang a few extra insurance runs like they did on Sunday? Of course. They came awfully close in the eighth, when both Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley launched balls that betrayed them and plummeted from the sky in the middle of the warning track. I don’t think we can be all that upset, though. With the way hit sequencing tends to torment the Tribe, two runs with only five baserunners all game long is fantastic.

Also fantastic — the length of tonight’s game. It lasted little more than two hours. I know it’s been brought up in a recap or maybe the twitter feed before, but if Manfred wants to improve pace of play, he should just let an Indians’ starter pitch every game.

What made the difference for the Tribe tonight?

We’ve established that both teams enjoyed dominant pitching, and both managed to score only once, courtesy of a single swing. The final outcome came down to Defense. Carrasco accidentally revealed his ninja alter ego in to end the second inning, which is the only one in which he faced any significant threat.

The second significant play occurred in the sixth inning. Manny Machado walked ahead of Adam Jones, who promptly blooped a ball to shallow right center. Bradley Zimmer bolted out of his no-double depth and scooped the ball out of the sky on a slide. The amount of ground that he covered was so ludicrous that Machado never even considered that the ball might be caught. Zimmer stood up and lobbed the ball to first to double off the Orioles’ shortstop and end the inning.

The birds might have had another shot in the eighth when Tim Beckham singled against Carrasco and knocked him out of the game. Andrew Miller entered and struck out Trey Mancini with some nasty sliders. One of these got away from Yan Gomes, but Beckham didn’t have a read on it and stayed rooted at first. He should have been standing on second base when Manny Machado singled. With Beckham’s wheels its even odds as to whether he would have scored to tie the game. He didn’t, and a grounder from the next batter ended the inning on a fielder’s choice.

Other items of note

  • Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez, and Yan Gomes are the only Indians starters with OBPs greater than .300. Yikes.
  • The Indians do not have to deal with Manny Machado again until August, assuming the O’s somehow forget to trade him to the Yankees before the deadline.
  • Poor Anthony Santander. The former Indians’ farmhand shouldn’t be playing at the Major League level at the moment, but he still needs to meet the Rule 5 draft requirements due to the amount of time he missed last year (I think? Paging Hemminger, Brian). He’s struggling at a .153/.194/.254 slash... although that’s a better slugging percentage than Kipnis has at the moment. Sorry, Kip.
  • Tom Hamilton spent the better part of 20 minutes discussing the railroad heritage and historical importance of Camden Yards. The man still has the best home run call in the game, but man, nobody goes further astray on tangents.

Tomorrow night the Indians face off against the Chicago Cubs in Cleveland. I have feelings.