It was another miserable night for the Cleveland Indians, who can’t seem to pull it together against teams with even the faintest pulse. Tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates prevailed by a score of 9-4, bludgeoning the Tribe from the first inning onward.
Indians starter Shane Bieber struggled from the outset. Corey Dickerson doubled to open the game, then Starling Marte sent a four-seam fastball into the stands to take a 2-0 lead.
Riding a scoreless streak of 15 consecutive innings, the Indians pulled out all the stops to bring a single run across the plate in the bottom of the first inning. Francisco Lindor delivered a leadoff double, then, for some God forsaken reason, Michael Brantley sent a sac bunt down the third base line to advance Lindor to third. Jose Ramirez grounded out to second to score Lindor and cut the deficit to 2-1. The stadium crew declined to launch fireworks.
It wasn’t a one-run game for long.
It was Tyler Naquin who opened the floodgates in the second inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Dickerson sent a fly ball to the wall in center field. Naquin misplayed it and the ball missed his glove, allowing two runs to score on what was ruled a triple instead of an error. Marte took advantage of the extended inning, scoring Dickerson from third on a sharp grounder up the middle that a diving Francisco Lindor couldn’t corral.
Gregory Polanco delivered the exclamation point, sending a two-run no-doubter into the right field stands for a 7-1 Pirates lead. If you’re counting at home, that is five runs — all earned, in the eyes of the official scorer — after Naquin’s unofficial error in center field. That also marked the end of the road for Bieber, who lasted all of 1.2 innings before hitting the showers.
Edwin Encarnacion contributed a solo home run in the fourth inning, which was nice.
Moving to squash even the slightest hint of a rally, the Pirates responded the following inning against Neil Ramirez with a two-run homer by Josh Bell to extend their lead to 9-2.
Brandon Guyer, batting in place of Brantley after he was pulled from the lineup due to the lopsided affair, homered in the eighth inning. With two outs in the ninth, Naquin singled to center and then scored from first on an RBI double off the center field wall from Erik Gonzalez. Guyer followed with a strikeout to end the game with a final score of 9-4.
Not much has gone right for the Indians this series. The starting pitching has imploded. The bats have been stymied by mediocre pitchers. The fielding has been subpar.
If you’re searching for a silver lining, the Indians’ bullpen has acquitted themselves well, for the most part. Zach McAllister pitched two scoreless innings of relief in last night’s mercifully rain-shortened game. Aside from the two runs allowed by Ramirez tonight, the bullpen was solid, albeit after the game was out of reach. The Indians used six relievers to cover 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs and collecting six strikeouts over that span.
Trevor Bauer will take the mound tomorrow afternoon as the Tribe looks to avoid a sweep.