Adam Plutko might have just saved multiple games for the Cleveland Indians.
Forget the fact that he struck out six batters and didn’t issue a single walk in 7.1 innings — although that alone for a 26-year-old making his season debut is pretty amazing. Forget that he held the Toronto Blue Jays to just three runs over that span. No, Plutko’s great outing goes well beyond a single win tonight. We’ll see the real implications of Plutko’s impressive debut over the next couple days, and maybe over the next couple weeks.
Just consider what happens if Plutko’s outing goes real south real quick. The Indians used six of their seven relievers in game one of today’s doubleheader, so they were really out of options. Do they just drive Jeff Beliveau and the new guy Evan Marshall into the ground if Plutko tanks in the second inning? Does Josh Tomlin or Trevor Bauer relieve on short rest and throw everyone else out of whack until the off-day Monday? Does Rajai Davis pitch? There were a lot of interesting (and terrifying) scenarios that would have arisen if things went differently. Luckily we had to deal with none of them.
Plutko was indeed brilliant in his first start of the season, inducing 12 swinging strikes and 23 called strikes on his way to an 104-pitch game of mostly dominance. You could blame part of that on the Blue Jays being gassed after an extra-innings battle in game one, but so were the Indians hitters, and they seemed to be doing just fine. As someone who gets winded walking up the stairs too fast, I feel I’m completely entitled to judge these grown athletic men doing athletic thing and declare that they should have been okay. Buck up and hit I always say.
Beliveau and Marshall did end up coming into the game to finish things off, and while the former was a little shaky in his 1.2 innings of work, they both got the job done enough to maintain a 10-run lead. That doesn’t sound like much, but after this last week, you might as well give them a each plaque in Heritage Park for their efforts.
The Indians bats picked up right where they left off in game one with every starter tallying at least one hit and Erik Gonzalez and Jose Ramirez both adding three hits to the win. For Gonzalez, his hot streak recently — especially today — might have saved his Indians career.
Giovanny Urshela is set to come off the disabled list any minute now (literally), and a decision between keeping one of the two and designating the other for assignment is coming up fast. Do you keep the guy batting .391 who can play just about any position, or the one who can play pretty good defense when you need him at third once a month unless it’s in the the postseason? It might not be a very hard decision, after all.
Did I forget that the Indians casually racked up 13 runs tonight, including nine in one crazy inning? It was a ton of fun to watch, and full credit to the Indians for keeping up the pressure, but the bonkers fifth inning we watched tonight deserves a bit of a footnote. In any regular scenario, relief pitcher Luis Santos is probably pulled after he walks Bradley Zimmer with the bases loaded. The Indians would have still been up 5-2, but another reliever who knew the relative shape and size of the strikeout would have been brought in. Maybe he would have got Erik Gonzalez and Francisco Lindor out in order, maybe he wouldn’t have, but there’s no way Santos would have stayed in to face 11 more batters and throw 51 total pitches if the Blue Jays hadn’t exhausted their entire bullpen in game one of a doubleheader.
Don’t let that ruin the fun whatsoever, though. After all the garbage offense we’ve had to endure this season, I want to take nothing away from the Indians flipping the switch and rubbing another team into the dirt. Now please do it three more times.