- Shane Bieber vs. the long ball
- The bottom of the Indians’ order mashing
- Hand-wringing over Andrew Miller and Cody Allen
- Where-oh-where have Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez gone?
If you feel discouraged after this win because of the small problematic things, just be glad that you’re not watching the Mets.
Not Justin pitched well enough this afternoon. If he’d given up only two home runs I’d feel comfortable removing the qualifier from that. If he’d given up one or none, we’d be looking at a fine start. Maybe even a great one. As it stands, he ended the day with a line of 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Giving up three dingers which contained all four runs allowed is a bit discouraging, especially when you consider how far each of them went.
Whit Merrifield, 1st inning: 430 feet
Salvador Perez, 4th inning: 435 feet
Lucas Duda, 6th inning: 432 feet
Unless you’re playing at the polo grounds these balls are gone anywhere in the majors now that Tal’s Hill is dead. The pitch that Perez hit out of the park is the most offensive — Bieber grooved an 0-2 fastball. Look, if you can give up three dingers and allow only four runs, it’s not a terrible day at the park. I also don’t think that Bieber deserves absolutely any comparisons to Josh Tomlin at this point. However, I came away from his start today thinking, “Man, this Bieber kid is going to be great if he can just learn to keep the ball out of the strike zone.”
I’m looking forward to seeing him develop, and much prefer a game like this today to the kind of total meltdowns Trevor Bauer would have after walking a guy when he was 23.
Flipping the script
Since the all-star break, Melky Cabrera and Greg Allen have been fixtures at the bottom of the Indians order. They’ve also been raking, and continued to do so today. Cabrera earned two hits — one for each at-bat, as he walked in his other three plate appearances. Allen blooped a two-run double down the line in left and built up the lead the Royals would never again overcome.
On top of those contributions, Roberto Perez and Jason Kipnis filled out the bottom four and joined in on the fun. Roberto walked twice and scored a run. Kipnis posted what might be his best game of the entire season. He clubbed four hits and four RBIs, then came around to score three times. The most exciting of these? An inside-of-the-park home run on a ball that caromed off the top of the wall in right field past former Gold Glove award winner and current replacement level embodiment Alex Gordon.
It happened to be his 100th career home run and added an exclamation mark on a loopy afternoon.
The closer is the closer because he’s the closer?
Cody Allen and Andrew Miller both pitched one inning in today’s game.
For Miller, you may feel some concern because he’s still working on regaining form after sustaining an injury. His fastball peaked at 93 today. That didn’t happen until the end of the inning, and the overall trend of his velocity isn’t great. That being said, this year’s team doesn’t need 2016 Andrew Miller in order to be successful. Would it be great to have a guy pitching like peak Randy Johnson to plug in whenever we want again? Of course, but with Miller’s stuff he can still be an excellent bullpen option if not elite.
For Allen, we’ve discussed his decreased ability to locate his knuckle curve. Today he didn’t get very much help from the umpire.
None of those ball calls are completely inexcusable, but at least three should probably be strikes. With the exception of a few airmailed throws he also appeared to be hitting his target. Hopefully with some additional low-leverage work he can reassemble himself.
When the GOAT is the goat
Francisco Lindor salvaged something out of this road trip by notching two hits and finally picking up a couple of RBI, but Jose Ramirez once again struggled. He put up an 0fer in five at-bats with two strikeouts. I don’t think there is any reason to be concerned that it’s anything more than a standard slump, but it stinks to see him struggle so much. In his last ten games before today, he’d been hitting .147/.310/.265. That feels awful, but then you notice his BABIP in that span has been .133 and it all feels much, much better. He’s still drawing walks and balls are still leaving the yard on occasion, so there shouldn’t be any reason to panic. Jose remains the GOAT, not a lowly scapegoat.
I realize this recap may come of as a little more critical than the scoreline indicates, and that’s not my intent. It’s just that you can only write so many exuberant “everyone killed the ball” recaps, and it is a good sign that I feel like I’ve had to write too many of those lately.
The Indians come home to face the Twins again tomorrow night.