The baseball gods are striking players down left and right to force the Cleveland Indians to call up Francisco Mejia. First Bradley Zimmer, then Lonnie Chisenhall’s weak calves, and another tonight. How many more good players have to go down before they do the right thing and bring up their top prospect?
Tonight’s victim was Brandon Guyer, who drilled a foul ball directly off his kneecap in his final at-bat of the game. Does it mean that Francisco Mejia will finally get his call back to the majors, or will the Indians have re-sign Melky Cabrera and have him fall down a flight of stairs in a freak accident for Mejia to finally get his shot?
Brandon Guyer’s night is nothing more than a pretty good 1-for-2 night in the box score, but he did so much more for the Tribe tonight before his injury. One defensive mishap on a tough fly ball aside, Guyer proved why he still has a spot on this team despite being a black hole in the lineup against right-handed pitchers.
He drew a walk in the first inning and a ho-hum hit in the seventh (off a right-handed pitcher!), but it was he did to end the fifth inning and on the bases in the sixth inning that made this a night to remember for the platoon specialist.
The Catch, as it will be referred to for the duration of this recap and no further, was a tremendous diving effort to rob Jorge Bonifacio of an easy bloop single. It was just a few at-bats after Guyer misread a fly ball and it dropped for a hit, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating a job well done. No one scored, and Guyer ended the inning with robbery in broad moonlight — no harm, no foul.
In the sixth, Guyer did his usual thing by getting hit by a pitch — but not the kind that goes off your bat and leads to a medical emergency, but the kind that brushes your uniform because you smartly refused to move your feet to get out of the way and got yourself a free base. When Yonder Alonso hit a hard ground ball into the dirt that bounced lazily to the Royals’ shortstop, Guyer hustled his ass off to second and slid in, beating a very short — and slow — throw to keep the bases loaded and potentially prevent a double play.
Yan Gomes absolutely crushed a ball in the next at-bat for the Tribe’s eighth grand slam of the season. The towering 104.8 mile-per-hour shot made its way into the Indians’ bullpen, and wasn’t quite enough to elicit a “see ya” from Rick Manning’s like Lindor’s bomb last night, but it was still quite the sight to behold and Gomes’ 10th home run of the season. With that, he officially has double-digit home runs in five of his last six seasons, and he’s got an honest shot at beating his career high of 21 that he set in 2014.
None of that would have been possible without Guyer’s contributions tonight, and I think it’s totally fair to heap praise on him for this. He’s had plenty of bad nights this season, but tonight wasn’t one of them. Shine on, you beautiful, strange, star.
Outside of Guyer’s heroics, how nice is it to have faith in your offense with the bases loaded for once? This has to be the first time since the Pronk Era that the Indians consistently come up to the plate and feel like they have a chance. Even 2016 felt like a gamble whether they would get a sacrifice fly and squeeze out a run or immediately hit into a double play to end and inning. This season, with a runner on base, the Indians rank fifth in the American League with a 117 wRC+ and they are tied for fourth with 48 home runs. That’s just fun baseball.
Not to get lost in the Guyer hysteria, Yonder Alonso turned in a 3-for-3 night with an intentional walk and a run batted in of his own. He’s 7-for-14 in his last three games, which isn’t nothing, but it looks a lot worse if you also include the four games before that. I’ll let you do the math on that yourself, though, and I’ll choose to be optimistic for now.
After a rough first inning of his own doing, Shane Bieber again overcame adversity to turn a pretty solid outing. He was squeezed hard in the second, getting almost nothing called as a strike in the upper part of the zone. I believe I said in a previous recap, but the way Bieber is going to succeed depends so much on the umpire behind the plate on any given night — he just paints the corners so effectively. Tonight, like his last time out, he showed poise (and a lot of fortunate sequencing) to spread nine hits out over six innings. More than two strikeouts sure would be nifty, though.