That felt nice.
Shane Bieber picked up his first career win, the offense got an early hit to capitalize on mistakes, and the Indians improve to 37-33 with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins. There are a few important things to point out.
The Indians are still struggling to hit with runners in scoring position
This isn’t something I’m worried about long term; I don’t really believe that hitters, in the long run, have very different outcomes than they do with no runners on second and third. It’s still infuriating in the short run. Today, the Indians went 2-10 in such situations. Tyler Naquin singled home a run in the second inning to tie the game, while Yan Gomes drove a double to deep center field in the third to drive in three. Would it had been better if he’d parked it? Yes — Ann Marie would have won a brand new truck courtesy of the Grand Slam Giveaway Inning. As it stands, I think we’re all happy with the fact that the Tribe finally grabbed a lead against the Twins and held on to it. They were the only runs that the Indians needed, but everyone likes insurance runs early.
Shane Bieber looked like a veteran and Jake Odorizzi looked like a rookie
Bieber made his second career start today. Despite giving up two doubles and a early lead to the Twins, he battled for nearly six innings and earned a win. His final line on the day comes to 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 SO, 1 BB, and 10 H. In a perfect world, Bieber prevents that many runners from reaching base. The flipside of this is that we saw Bieber escape several jams.
That maturity contrasts with the effort seen today from Jake Odorizzi. He couldn’t locate pitches early and paid for it in the third. After Michael Brantley doubled and advanced to third on a groundout, he walked to bases loaded and coughed up what became the game winning double to Gomes.
Contrast that to Bieber, who is now the fourth Indian ever to record six strikeouts or more in his first two starts. The other members of that list are Luis Tiant, Herb Score, and Corey Kluber.
Erik Gonzalez tried to impersonate Eddie Rosario and it didn’t work
Rosario hits like Hank Aaron against the Indians regardless of where the ball is pitched. He’s been known to crank balls six inches inside over the wall. Today, Erik Gonzalez swung at everything with the same abandon. Rather than producing anything of value at the plate, he left the game with a golden sombrero. Good things happen when Gonzalez puts the ball into play, but four strikeouts in four at-bats is a worrisome sign from a young player with contact and patience issues.
Lonnie Chisenhall and Yan Gomes look fantastic lately
In the month of June, the players own the following slash lines:
That’s some welcome production for a team that’s largely relied on Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez to do the lifting at the plate. We’ve covered the exploits of Gomes today; Chisenhall went 2-3 with a walk and a triple that turned into a run when Naquin singled. In my opinion there’s no real reason to let Roberto Perez start unless Trevor Bauer holds a drone to his neck and threatens to turn it on if he doesn’t get his personal catcher. If Chisenhall continues to produce that provides some kind of stability in an outfield that can be described as “Michael Brantley and two random number generators” so far this season.
Even though Lindor and Ramirez went hitless they found a way to contribute
Both players walked once, though neither scored. I’ll always take a walk from a player even if it doesn’t directly lead to a run; driving up pitch counts is always good. Meanwhile, they both made heads-up plays defensively. Lindor ended an inning by staying alert and catching Mitch Garver trying to sneak home with the defense occupied in a rundown between first and second. Frankie turned and ran toward him, eventually forcing him into an out at third. Meanwhile, Ramirez leaned deep into the camera well to snag an out inches just feet from Andre Knott’s head.
Speaking of Andre Knott, he got a cute little fan as a father’s day gift because of how hot it was today. A foul ball obliterated it early in the game. Oops.
It actually looks like the bullpen is starting to coming together
They haven’t been elite in the month of June, but they’ve been proficient. Today, Oliver Perez and Neil Ramirez pitched shutout baseball to set the table for a Cody Allen save.
The charge has been led by Ramirez and Perez, who have combined for 13 innings with a single run allowed in the month of June. The Indians discover random effective relievers every season. Sequentially since 2013, they are Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, Jeff Manship, Dan Otero, and Nick Goody. Shaw is the only one out of the group to show any consistency, but if Ramirez and Perez can keep it up through October I don’t think anyone here is going to be too worried about next season. Meanwhile, Allen proved that he’s still an effective closer when he doesn’t have to pitch four our of five games.
Tomorrow night the Indians take on the White Sox again. Let’s not split the series this time.