You know that moment we’ve all been waiting for? The one where the offense, starting rotation, and bullpen all come together in one magnificent explosion of Good Baseball?
It happened tonight in the Indians’ 10-1 win over the Cubs. Sorry if tonight was the night you decided to start that healthy lifestyle or pick up a new show. You really blew it.
Sure, it was aided by the Chicago Cubs starting pitcher, Tyler Chatwood, having no idea what a strikezone is, was, or ever will be, but the Cleveland Indians didn’t have to take enough pitches to draw three walks in an inning, and Jose Ramirez didn’t have to hit a booming home run to open the scoring, and Francisco Lindor didn’t have to break out of his little cold streak with a 2-for-4 game with two walks. But they did. Because they were good.
There was a point in this game where it felt like they could have scored 20 if they wanted. Chatwood was all over the place, quite literally, and Tribe batters were able to just sit back and pick their shots.
Just look at this beaut.
It got so bad that Joe Maddon had to come out and pull Chatwood instead of having him face Bauer. Bauer, a pitcher who has admitted to not being able to hit little-league pitching, who only has one major-league hit to his name, was just too risky for Chatwood to face. Don’t get me wrong, Maddon absolutely made the right decision. Bauer might have backed off of pitches more than once before they were even halfway to the plate, but if he did that four times against Chatwood, he probably would have walked and extended the inning.
Newcomer Melky Cabrera got in on the fun as well. Just ignore his god awful attempt at fielding (and also ignore the myriad of excuse Matt Underwood and Rick Manning tried to give him) and focused on the fact that he was able to line a shot past the shortstop for a two-run double. That’s what the Indians need out of their outfield right now, and they got it.
A lot of cold players had pretty good games today — Lindor as previously mentioned, Yonder Alonso had three hits, and even Jason Kipnis managed to make contact — but it’s hard to tell if they are finally coming out of slumps, or if they just feasted on bad pitching. The real test for that will be tomorrow when they face Jon Lester.
Like the offense hitting well at the plate, Trevor Bauer pitched well on the mound, shutting out the Cubs offense for six innings before Terry Francona was able to trust in his bullpen to finish things off with a 10-run lead. That doesn’t sound like an irrational amount of confidence, but to anyone who has watched this bullpen this season, you might understand if Tito was a little antsy even with almost entire professional cricket roster worth of runs on his side.
By far the best moment of the night was Wilson Contreras being absolutely certain that he blasted a home run to lead off the fourth inning. So sure was he in this dinger that he slowly dropped his bat and posed for a brief second before beginning his celebratory jog around the bases.
Now, a couple things about this home run.
- He was down 7-0 in the fourth inning.
- It wasn’t a home run.
In some kind of delicious cosmic karma, the ball helplessly dropped into the awaiting glove of Michael Brantley and Contreras could only look in disbelieve as Brantley threw the ball back in, grinning ear-to-ear. Look, I get it. I’m all for celebrating and letting your personality show in baseball — even if you’re down by a touchdown. But good golly man, if you’re going to let the bat slide out of your outstretched arms and pose for the cameras, you have to be positive you just hit a 500-foot home run. Anything short of that, just flip the bat and run to give yourself some kind of plausible deniability.
At least it gave us this:
Overall, Bauer located well in his second consecutive shutout, inducing 17 called strikes and 13 swinging strikes. The vast majority of the former came off his four-seam fastball, which peaked 96.5 miles per hour, which follows a recent trend of an up-ticking velocity for Bauer. What started as a mid-94s fastball early in the year and slowly evolved into a mid-96 MPH bullet for him lately — the result has been more swings and misses and six strikeouts tonight.
On this magical night, not even Josh Tomlin entering the game in the ninth inning and — predictably — giving up a home run immediately could spoil the fun. You take that solo shot down 10-0, and you enjoy it, Ian Happ. I’m just here to have a good time.