“But Tyler...” you ask, “How did Josh Donaldson ‘ruin everything’ by hitting a grand slam in the middle of a 10-run inning?” Well I’ll tell you.
I was prepared to put together a nice recap that focused on Jason Kipnis since he’s my favorite player and he had an incredible night tonight with a home run of his own and two diving plays in center field. I wanted to write about how Kipnis, despite his struggles in 2018, has clawed his way back to being a good baseball player and looks ready to make an impact in the postseason. I wanted to write about how Kip is taking to center field better than I thought he would and I don’t feel completely helpless every time a ball is hit his way. And I really, really wanted to talk about how I want Kipnis to get that [redacted] championship more than anyone and that I believe in my heart of hearts that he’s going to have a special playoff run.
But no. Josh Donaldson, Bringer of Rain, decided to hit a bomb of a grand slam . So I’ll put his picture up as the lead image for this recap. I hope you’re happy, sir.
Leading up to the Tribe’s biggest inning of 2018 (per Matt Underwood), Mike Clevinger and Ian Kennedy locked horns for five innings of 1-run ball, with the lone running coming off the bat of Jason Kipnis (!!!) in the third inning. Kip battled and ripped a foul ball deep into the seats in right field, which didn’t at all remind me of the 2016 World Series *sobs*. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Kip straightened it out and blasted his 18th home run of the season up the seats in right.
Aside from the Kipnis dinger, the Tribe really couldn’t do much against Ian Kennedy until the sixth inning. Luckily, Mike “Sunshine” Clevinger carved through the Royals with ease, routinely hitting 95 mph on the radar gun and mixing in a looping, beautiful curveball. The command issues that plagued Clev in his last outing (remember the five walks?) were completely absent tonight. Through the first six innings, Clevinger allowed just two base runners (two doubles) and racked up five strikeouts along the way. Tonight, Clevinger needed 6.2 innings to hit the 200 inning milestone for the first time in his career; he got it. He would’ve gotten more, too, had Jose Ramirez and Evan Barnes not botched a routine fly ball in the seventh inning. But 1 run on 6.2 innings would be incredible if Clevinger can replicate it in October.
Now that seventh inning was quite the experience. The Indians sent 14 men to the plate before the inning ended. There were 9 hits (5 singles, 3 doubles, and a grand slam) along with a fielding error and a walk (Ramirez still can’t buy a hit but he’s still getting on base). I expect the pitching next week will be better than the AAAA players in the Royals’ bullpen, but if the Indians can put together an inning even half as good as this one in the ALDS, then it’ll be fun times in Cleveland again.
- Seriously, Jason Kipnis had a good night both at the plate and in the field. I’m excited to see him in October.
- Jose Ramirez continued to struggle at the plate and it looked like he was struggling in the field a bit as well. A misplayed pop-up in the seventh and a bobbled ground ball in the eighth has Matt Underwood and Rick Manning concerned. Andre Knott went the Occam’s Razor route and theorized that maybe Ramirez is just worn down due to the length of the season. I’m not sure what the issue is, but I hope Jose figures it out in the next six days.
- Speaking of the seventh, I think Matt Underwood made an old man joke at the expense of Rick Manning. In the 7th after Barnes and Ramirez goofed up a routine fly ball to shallow right field, Underwood said that Clevinger would end the year with an ERA slightly above 3 instead of slightly below. This prompted Rick Manning to reply with “well you can’t always get everything”, which resulted in a snappy “Okay, Rolling Stones” comment from Underwood.
- Roberto Perez and Yonder Alonso began to heat up and stay hot, respectively, with two hits apiece and 4 runs driven in.
- Cody Allen imploded again. 0.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 20 pitches (9 strikes). Not ideal. He’ll try again tomorrow.
- Wait make that 4 earned runs because Adam Plutko came in and gave up a grand slam to Brian Goodwin on his second [redacted] pitch.
- Fine, here’s the Donaldson slam, as called by Thomas William Hamilton:
"WHAT A PRODIGIOUS BLAST FOR JOSH DONALDSON!"— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) September 29, 2018
Take it away, Tom.#RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/kp8hFVssHQ
This was probably as much fun as a meaningless game on September 28 could have been (you know, minus Cody Allen not finding the strike zone). It’s been talked about ad nauseam on here about how we’re all ready to just skip the rest of the regular season and get to the playoffs. And that’s still true. But I’d rather see the Indians beat the snot out of their opponents than lose in extras as they did last night. Enjoy the meaningless baseball until the meaningful games start up again; the Tribe plays another one tomorrow night.