Alex Cobb, coming into today, has pitched in five regular season games against the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe owns a collective .279/.347/.441 slash against him. Of the 31 hits that Cleveland had tallied against him, 14 of them went for extra bases. This season, he’s been absolutely awful and he was going up against one of the best teams in baseball.
So how does he keep ruining my day whenever I watch him pitch against the Cleveland Indians?
The last time I vividly remember having an awareness of Alex Cobb was in 2013 in the wildcard game. You all remember, I’m sure. The Indians got completely shut down by Cobb across 6.2 innings despite giving up eight hits. The Indians couldn’t get anything going against him, and I distinctly remember that the few times that they had a threat going, it was quickly wiped out via a double play.
2018 appears to be no different re: Cobb v. Indians. And as much as I hate to admit it, Matt Underwood and Rick Manning may be right in that Alex Cobb looked even better today than he did five years ago. Today featured a complete game by Cobb in which his only blemish was in the 6th inning thanks to an RBI by Francisco Lindor and a sac fly by Michael Brantley. Otherwise, the Indians couldn’t do anything against Cobb throughout the entire game. He was perfect through the first three innings and still was facing the minimum through the 5th thanks to the first of two double plays turned by the Orioles. He had a good mix of his three pitches working all game, including his fastball which was thrown for a strike 83% of the time. 100 pitches, 69 nice strikes. Today was Cobb’s fourth win on the season, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I’ve alluded to the futility of the offense today. The team mustered just five hits against the Orioles, 2 of which came off the bat of Francisco Lindor. But Lindor wasn’t free from bad baseball today. In the 6th inning after driving in Cleveland’s first run and Jose MVP GOAT Ramirez at the plate, Lindor broke for second on the second pitch of the at-bat. Granted, it was a good pitch to go on, but a brilliant throw by Austin Wynns had Lindor dead to rights and the inning was over.
The next inning featured Ramirez and Yonder Alonso getting on base with 1 out, which prompted Tito to replace Alonso with Rajai Davis on the base paths. Melky Cabrera, instead of giving Davis a chance to steal a base and eliminate the double play, decided to swing at the first pitch and set up an easy inning-ending double play. Way to go, Melk Man.
Lost in all of this is the performance by Adam Plutko. Plutko today is a perfect example as to why fans should wait until the game is over to assess the performance of a player. Through the first three innings, Plutko was teetering on the brink of implosion at times. Renato Nunez swatted a double to left field in the second, and the third saw two base runners reach (walk and a bunt) before Jonathan Villar absolutely mashed a ball to deep right field for a 3-run home run. And it was not a good pitch at all:
Of those six pitches, none of them touched 91 mph. In fact, only pitches #2 and 4 were sliders, the others were 90 mph fastballs. Villar is not known for his power, but if you give a hitter that many looks at a fastball, you’re eventually going to pay.
But here’s the thing: that home run was the last base runner that Plutko would allow the rest of the game. Plutko, starting with Trey Mancini who batted immediately following Villar’s home run, sat down the next fourteen hitters that he faced. So while he had a blip in the third, his overall line was actually really good: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. We’ve become spoiled with the likes of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger, but Adam Plutko’s performance was more than satisfactory and is much better than you would normally expect from a #5 starter. Plutko will not match Trevor Bauer’s performance, not by a long shot. But if he can give the Indians this sort of outing every fifth day, he’s doing his job.
- The Indians retired Jim Thome’s number in a pre-game ceremony. They then lost to his former team (remember when Jim Thome played 28 games for the Orioles in 2012?).
- Jason Kipnis made a spectacular diving catch in the in the eighth inning. And none of this “oh a better second baseman makes that catch easy”. It was great.
- Neil Ramirez continues to do his best Zach McAllister impression by throwing a straight heater with not much else, which resulted in him giving up a home run to Cedric Mullins. It was Mullins’ first career home run (and Andre Knott interviewed him after the game for some reason).
- Dan Otero looked decent, so that was nice. He looked his best when he got a visibly frustrated Chris Davis to ground out softly to Erik Gonzalez.
Tomorrow’s rubber match features a much more favorable pitching match-up with Mike Clevinger taking on
Andrew Cashner Yefry Ramirez in day baseball.