At some point you have to admit there’s a problem, and there’s a problem with Cody Allen.
The Cleveland Indians’ once-great closer has an ERA creeping toward five, and he hasn’t pitched a clean inning of relief in a week. His 11 home runs allowed is tied for fifth worst among relievers this season, and any team willing to trust him with the closing role in a pivotal playoff game should be institutionalized.
Is that too harsh? That feels too harsh. Maybe not, but after what we all just watched it feels accurate.
There was a point tonight where Greg Allen was the story of the game, win or lose. Even after Yonder Alonso’s first home run, Allen sneakily stealing second, then third, then sprinting home so fast that Alex Gordon didn’t even bother to throw from shallow left field was all I wanted to talk about in this competitive game against the Royals.
Then Kauffman Stadium sprung a leak. Then Mike Clevinger somehow turned in an effective start. Then Yonder Alonso homered again. Then Melky Cabrera proved yet again why he’s an awful outfielder. Then Yan Gomes kept hitting. Then Cody Allen happened. Suddenly Allen’s 1-for-3 night and great baserunning was just another blip in a gritty night for the Indians.
Clevinger’s outing on the mound certainly doesn’t qualify as good, but the fact that he kept it together after some serious hurdles — some brought on by his own ineffectiveness and others the sheer force of water — to only allow three earned runs is pretty okay. His command was non-existant in the first inning with three straight runners reaching base, culminating in a three-run home run by Salvador Perez. But then it call clicked into place and Sunshine, as he’s called on Players Weekend, shut down the next 11 batters he faced. He looked a little shaky for the last few of those, which is understandable since they came after a lengthy water delay. But he worked through it, and still managed an eight-strikeout, six-inning game. That alone is impressive in its own way.
On the note of that leak, it was the highlight of the night for me, personally. Sure, Alonso homering twice is cool but that’s happened before and it’ll happen again. How often is a dang stadium going to spring a leak all over right field? It led to a half-hour delay and countless fun times with the internet on Twitter. The umpires even came out of their turtle shells to make a few phone calls. It was whacky, and probably not what MLB envisioned with Players Weekend, but it was just the right dose of fun.
To sum up the goodness of the offense: The Indians finally have something working when Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are mortals. Even tonight where they still combined for two hits, they didn’t do nearly enough to carry the offense like they normally do. But Yonder Alonso (2-for-4, 2 HR) and Yan Gomes (3-for-4) both stepped up big time.
So there was some good in this game. Quite a bit, in fact.
Enter Cody Allen and the meatball train.
If you couldn’t tell, both those green dots are somewhere in the streets of Kansas City right now.
Can Allen recover and be a worthwhile closer again before this season’s over? Maybe? Probably? Do I want to sit around and find out? Better yet, do I want to have everything hinge on finding out with a playoff series on the line? The answer to both those questions is absolutely not.