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Five perfect innings from McCullers propel Astros in 3-1 defeat of Indians

If the Tribe had 5 more wins it wouldn’t feel like a bad loss, but here we are

Cleveland Indians  v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Before reading this recap, I encourage all of you to enjoy a moment of noise. Not silence. Noise. Just go make noises for 15 seconds. Whatever you want.


The Indians lost to the Astros 3-1 today. Lance McCullers cruised through 7 innings, 5 of which were perfect, to spearhead the effort. Carlos Carrasco provided an excellent start for the Tribe, too. He allowed only two runs due to one bad pitch in 8.2 innings of work. It didn’t matter; as has been the case since late March, the Indians couldn’t seem to combine all the aspects of the game at the same time. When they mash, they melt on the mound. When they mow down opposing hitters at-bat after at-bat, they walk back to the dugout mewling after theirs. When players make a throwing error that sails into the stands I have to wonder if they’re doing it to see if anyone is really watching this team right now.

Regarding the Indians’ hitters

It became difficult to tell whether to attribute this to his nastiness or the Tribe’s lack of patience. Their approach at the plate didn’t appear to be conducive to run-scoring, but when someone gets through five without allowing a baserunner, they are usually throwing decent pitches.

Kipnis finally broke up the perfecto with a routine single to open the 6th. McCullers retired the next three in order.

In the 7th, Encarnacion and Alonso linked together two walks, but with two outs on the board the Indians couldn’t capitalize after Melky Cabrera lined out.

In the 8th, Greg Allen’s single didn’t come until two outs flashed on the board. Lindor swung at a Devenski lawn mower to end that threat.

In the 9th, Brantley doubled to lead off the inning. He very nearly scored on a double by Jose Ramirez, but George Springer ranged over and snared it before it became a gapper. Brantley advanced and scored on an Encarnacion grounder. Alonso hit a grounder into the shift instead of trying to bunt to an virtually vacant left infield, and the game ended.

It’s not like the Indians didn’t generate chances, but you can’t really blame this one on sequencing, either.

Regarding the Indians’ pitchers

Carrasco looked sharp this evening, mixing in his changeup and slider to miss bats. He wasn’t nailing his spots tonight — he cleared Altuve’s sinuses in the bottom of the sixth when a fastball tickled the infielder’s nose hairs — but the Astros weren’t able to make much out of their chances until the 7th. Carrasco threw a fastball to McCann that stayed low, but squirted over the middle of the plate. At any age, a 7-time All-Star will hit that ball quite a long way, and this one was not playable for Greg Allen. Given Gurriel’s single to open the inning, it put the Astros up 2-0.

In the bottom of the 8th, Carrasco let runners reach first and second without recording an out. Fortunately, Correa nubbed one to Lindor, and Kipnis turned it in time to erase two. Carrasco left with another excellent start, finishing 8.2 innings while allowing only two.

Then, Tyler Olson came in and gave up an RBI automatic double on a ball that would have been a home run anywhere else. I really want to dunk on him, but I think a couple biases are making everyone judge him a little harshly. One, he blew it in his first appearance on April 1st. Two, his worst two appearances came back to back, resulting in 6 ER against Texas. Before today the kid’s xFIP was 2.82, and I think we’d be kinder to him if anyone else in the Indians bullpen could put their hat on straight without asking Tito to double-check it.

Cody Allen pitched on at-bat. He recorded an out. There was rejoicing, somewhere, probably.

Regarding the Indians, generally

I don’t even know, man. I think we’re allowed to be frustrated at this team right now. I don’t think we should be talking about how much it’s going to suck when they miss the playoffs. I don’t think the bullpen is actually the worst in the league as far as talent is concerned, so there will be some regression. I do think the front office needs to consider getting creative when it comes to finding help in that department.

At the plate, I think they’re going to be fine. The usual suspects are mashing; Brantley is healthy; Kipnis, Encarnacion, and Alonso are due for some regression (Edwin maybe a little less based on BABIP). Are they going to blast this team to 100 wins again? It doesn’t look like it, but again, 87 wins may very well take the division, and then all bets are off in October.

I don’t know how this recap became so long but here are some choice bits from the ESPN broadcast

  • Altuve let a pop-up by Yan Gomes fall to the turf immediately after Kipnis broke up the no hitter. The ESPN booth struggled for a bit to understand whether or not this was on purpose. We have the benefit of the doubt, having had something like this happen to us already in the season. Yes, Matty, you would rather have Gomes than Kipnis on first base if you’re the defense.
  • During the last calendar year, Jose Ramirez has more extra base hits than any other player in baseball. He led all of baseball in doubles last season, and is tied for second this season with 13 home runs. The ESPN broadcast called him a great contact hitter.
  • Some ESPN exec forced Matt Vasgersian to bring up the Yanny vs. Laurel thing so that they could use a terrible graphic and soundbite parodying it with Lindor and Correa. Those of us that endured it will now have less intelligent offspring.