Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Jose Ramirez crushed a baseball and Michael Brantley wasn’t too shabby either. That’s how the Cleveland Indians scored their second and third runs of the game tonight against the Chicago White Sox, but those aren't what I want to talk about in this recap. Copy and paste my reaction from any of Jose Ramirez’s other 30-plus home runs, you know the deal already.
No, I want to talk about Roberto Perez. A sequence of events that started poorly, had Rick Manning foaming at the mouth, Perez stealing a base, and eventually scoring.
First, the lack of hustle. Perez hit a ball directly to the the left fielder, who promptly whiffed hard on the catch. It’s hard to tell if Perez thought the ball was caught or he just didn’t want to run out an easy catch, but either way he wasn’t running full speed all the way to first base. This seemed to infuriate Manning, who went on a several-minutes long rant against Perez’s lack of hustle on the play.
But like a beautiful gift from the baseball gods, delivered on a pillow by glowing angels, Roberto Perez did the least Roberto Perez thing ever: He stole a base. It wasn’t like an egregious pitch where he had to steal or anything, either. Maybe he wanted to make up for the lack of hustle on the hit, or maybe Tito sent him to steal as punishment and his own personal amusement. I don’t know, but he felt the need for speed and shambled on down to second with vintage Roberto Perez speed. A bad throw by the catcher hit him, and he was able to make it all the way to third.
Back when I still had faith in Perez (and was a bouncing baby boy in the world of baseball writing), I wrote about Perez’s sneaky good base-running. Not much has come of it, but he finally had a chance today to prove, once again, that he can run smart — not fast — and be effective on the bases. Tonight it was enough to help open the scoring en route to a victory. Pretty special.
It wasn’t just a sub-par hitting catcher stealing his first-ever base that won the Indians this game, though (believe it or not), but some solid defense helped. Brad Hand and Jason Kipnis combined for a nifty out with runners on, and Greg Allen chased down a sky-high ball that was feet away from tying the game in the bottom of the ninth.
On the mound, Trevor Bauer twirled a gem — eight strikeouts, one solo home run and no walks over 6.1 innings and yet another 100-pitch game. The downside is that he left in the seventh inning after taking a Jose Abreu hit off the ankle. He walked off under his own power, but it’s scary and I’m scared and I want every important player in a bubble until October, dangit.
Cody Allen provided his normal heart-attack inducing heroics with the save, and somehow Brad Hand managed to not let a run score after throwing eight straight balls to start his night.
Baseball is weird and wonderful.