The blistering temperatures of today’s game in Arlington, Texas can be an excuse for a lot of things. Quite frankly, I’m okay with using it for just about everything.
At first pitch, the stadium thermometer read 102 degrees, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, and it reached as high as 107. On the field itself, it got up to 120 based on a heat gun showed on Sports Time Ohio’s broadcast. We acknowledge that playing baseball in heavy rain or snow is impossible, and maybe it’s time to recognize that heat can be a similar issue. Just instead of the ball getting slippery like it does in rain, people — you know — die.
Luckily everyone walked off the field under their own power today, but it was the Cleveland Indians who had to get all sweaty for nothing as they failed to capitalize on several chances for a big inning and a sweep of the Texas Rangers.
Francisco Lindor did his job from the lead-off spot, starting off two separate innings on base — in the third via an error and in the eighth with a double that was just a few feet shy of a home run. Lindor’s efforts were squandered both times, and the Tribe came away with nothing.
It wasn’t just Lindor leading off innings well, either. Melky Cabrera singled to start the fourth and Yandy Diaz singled to start the seventh. Both times, at you might guess, didn’t end well.
Yandy Diaz extended his season-high hitting streak to two games with a 1-for-4 effort, but it was the mistakes with the bases loaded that are going to haunt him from this game. We know — or at least we can gather from context clues — that Terry Francona relies heavily on hot streaks and recency bias for his roster decision making; if Yandy doesn’t have an awful at-bat with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, he might have a better shot at sticking around when Shane Bieber needs a spot on the roster. As it is, Yandy flailed at one clear ball, failed to hold up on a ball in a full count, and didn’t immediately run to first when the catcher dropped the ball and gave him another opportunity to get on base.
The entire Indians offense seemed to catch a case of Yandyitis — a lot of hard-hit balls drilled directly into the dirt. Per Baseball Savant, seven Indians batters had balls in play with negative launch angles and four of them were hit 90 miles per hour or faster off the bat. None of them were hits as you’d expect, although Lindor’s base-by-error came on a 100-mile-per-hour hit with a negative launch angle. Yonder Alonso might have been able to leg out a hit on a ball that hopped high over the pitcher, but he’s Negative Bradley Zimmer and the slowest man alive. He was out by a mile.
Mike Clevinger was some kind of combination of himself from last season and this season. He walked four people and couldn’t seem to find the strike zone, yet he also struck out seven and held the Rangers to two runs off four hits in 6.2 innings. Overall not a bad game, but the walks are still scary.
Instead, the bullpen went full bullpen and allowed three runs over 1.1 innings to seal the Indians’ fate. With Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, and Tyler Naquin up in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians at least had a shot to mount a comeback, but the odds weren’t in the favor. And it was hot as hell, anyway.