What’s in a strikezone, anyway? Clearly not C.B. Bucknor’s eyes.
Bucknor, the man that brought us the
greatest worst call in umpiring history, put on a clinic of bad strikezone management tonight.
I try not to complain about strikezones, but this was so atrocious that the @IndiansUmp and @TwinsUmp Twitter accounts were probably catching on fire. And they didn’t even note every bad call.
For most people with functioning eyes, Bauer had tremendous control of the very outside edge of the plate, especially against righties. He was able to drop whipping fastballs at the bottom of the zone for strikes in this utopia where robot umps have taken over every aspect of our waking life.
But back in reality, Bauer was tormented by bad call after bad call, often on third strike opportunities. To his credit, as he’s done so many times this season, he got a little fired up, brushed it off, and moved on. More than once he was already in the middle of his signature trip around the pitcher’s mound after a strikeout before he realized the clear strike was actually a ball.
It didn’t even slow him down much.
Trevor still had 22 called strikes out the night on his way to aiding a 6-2 win over the Twins — 13 coming off his fastball that had incredible movement tonight. He allowed just two runs off four hits in 6.1 innings, but it was far from a typical Trevor Bauer night with only three strikeouts and a whopping four walks. That ties Bauer’s season low for strikeouts and it’s only the third time this season he’s walked more than three batters in any outing (one of those times he also struck out 12, so I mean).
With a total of 19 balls put in by the Twins, it was Bauer’s defense behind him that helped him out the most tonight. Jason Kipnis turned a double play, Francisco Lindor remains a wizard, and Melky Cabrera closed his eyes and accidentally caught a line drive. It was fun for the whole family.
If there was any letdown on the defense, it was Greg Allen’s arm being successfully challenged late in the game.
When Bobby Wilson flied out for the first out of the seventh inning, Jake Cave tagged up and made it to second and Allen wasn’t even that close to getting him out. Now, to be fair, Allen was chasing down a ball behind him and had to throw at a weird angle without charging, but still. You never want to see an arm get challenged so easily like that.
As for the garbage strike zone, even the offense had to deal with it, such as when Francisco Lindor had to ball that was only a strike by its chinny chin chin in the seventh inning.
He responded by taking a ball a few pitches later — that was in almost an identical spot — and slapping it for a single to the opposite field.
Jose Ramirez would like you to know that he is, indeed, the GOAT and doesn’t care about a bad strikezone. Definitely breaking out of a slump that plagued him through much of July, he had a good game going 3-for-4 with two runs batted in, a late-inning double, and a walk. He’s the best.
We also got to see a heavy dose of the Indians’ biggest trade deadline acquisition, Brad Hand. He threw 1.1 innings, struck out one, and displayed a filthy slider. My only beef with the bullpen tonight was how Tito used them.
Nearing 100 pitches on the night and with a three-run lead under his belt, you’d think Trevor Bauer’s night would have been over to start the seventh. Sure, he could throw 150 pitches and not bat an eye, but why do it? You have a functioning bullpen now, let them work with a clean inning and do what they’re supposed to do.
Tito let Trevor stay in for two batters — one of which made it to second base — before pulling him 102 pitches. That’s still not enough pitches to mean he has to come out, and he wasn’t in enough danger to mandate it either. So... why? Or, better yet, why not let Brad Hand start the inning with no one on base, a fresh arm, and a twinkle in his eye? Let the man work, dangit. I just don’t get it, and maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe it’s one of those “let the baseball people do baseball things” or whatever, but it’s still frustrating to watch. Fine when it works out like this, infuriating when it doesn’t.
Luckily tonight it worked. Unlike C.B. Bucknor’s eyes.