Today’s game had a little bit of everything. If you know what happened you’re probably in the comments section already. If you don’t, I’m going to keep it a secret for a little while. It’s going to be a fun surprise!
An Early Lead
Leonys Martin once again flashed power in the lead-off spot by starting the game with a home run. That’s three on the season now for Martin. As the first inning progressed, Two more singles by Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Santana (DOUBLE CARLOS POWER) set the stage for Tyler Naquin. He, too, singled. Two runs scored. People looked to each other and nodded, sharing their approval of the events. The early scoring came to a halt when Jake Bauers swung at a slider out of the zone to record the second out and Roberto Perez flied out to center.
Still—the Indians gained an early three run lead and looked poised to control the afternoon behind staff Ace Corey Kluber.
A Catastrophic Start
Kluber looked fine in the bottom of the first as he struck out three batters and allowed only an infield single. If only baseball games were so short.
Here’s the brief rundown of Corey Kluber in the bottom of the second:
Ryan O’Hearn: walk
Brian Dozier: single
Lucas Duda: three-run home run
Cam Gallagher: fly-out
Chris Owings: single, thrown out attempting to steal
Whit Merrifield: solo-home run
Adalberto Mondesi: fly-out, inning over.
We aren’t used to seeing a blow-up like that in an early inning from Corey Kluber. While he occasionally has a somewhat-rough inning in the early going, he often gets things back on track and ends up stretching it into a seven-inning quality start.
Did he manage to do that today? Well, let’s just take a look at the rest of the batters he faced today, along with the results.
Alex Gordon: infield single
Jorge Soler: walk
Ryan O’Hearn: walk
Brian Dozier: strikeout
Lucas Duda: RBI walk
Cam Gallagher: fielder’s choice out at home plate
Chris Owings: RBI walk.
When was the last time Kluber walked four hitters in a single inning? Never.
When was the last time Kluber walked five hitters in a game? Never.
How many times has Kluber walked in a run. Four. Two of those were today. One was on opening day. He’d only done it once in his entire career before this season.
He left the game after the second RBI walk, with Francona handing the ball to Nick Wittgren.
Great pitchers have awful games. We know this. Kluber’s even had a rough April in the past and bounced back to have a fine season the rest of the way. Take a look at his pitches this afternoon, though:
This is not the picture of a pitcher on top of his game who is just struggling with results. Considering the recent struggles of Carlos Carrasco and the injury to Mike Clevinger, Tribe fans better hope that this is just a blip and not a harbinger of accelerated decline.
I’m going to cross my fingers until they break that he is able to return to form because what else are you supposed to do when you watch your favorite player burst into flames?
The Senseless Execution of a Rally
In the top of the fourth, Jake Bauers singled. A Roberto Perez double followed, and runners stood at second and third with no outs. Brad Miller singled to add another run and put runners at the corners.
Eric Stamets then grounded into a double play. He did not earn an RBI for this. He did not earn anything. He deserves nothing for stabbing another rally in the face until the last gurgles of its breath escape as bubbles through blood. Not including today, Stamets owns a -32 wRC+. It is possible, if he remains on the roster, that we may see the first real attempt to drive offensive production by a single player to absolute zero.
Chris Davis got his first 3 hits of the season yesterday and is batting higher than Stamets.— Mike D’Alessandro (@Delly_Mike) April 14, 2019
The inning ended when Martin grounded out to the shortstop.
More Royals Runs
A walk, a single, and a bunt single: this is how the Royals put another run on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Francona allowed Tyler Olson to pitch to another batter, whom he walked. Neil Ramirez entered the game with the bases loaded and one out, and for my money it looked like the game would completely blow open at this point.
Instead, Ramirez put the threat to rest and preserved the 5-7 via strikeout and lineout.
His fire-fighting heroics didn’t last long, as he coughed up a solo shot to Jorge Soler in the sixth. The Indians fell behind by three as they entered the seventh.
Resilience isn’t really something we’ve seen out of the Indians this season, though they showed it today in the seventh inning. Leonys Martin reached base for the third and final time on the day with a single. Jose Ramirez—remember Jose Ramirez? He singled on a chopper. Oscar Gonzalez grounded out but advanced the runners, so the Royals then decided to intentionally walk Carlos Santana to load the bases for Tyler Naquin. Francona elected to send Hanley Ramirez up to pinch-hit instead, and he drew a walk to bring the score to within two.
Greg Allen came in to run for Hanley and play Naquin’s spot. Jake Bauers stepped up and knocked a base hit that scored both Ramirez and Santana, but the rally died when Greg Allen was thrown out at third. Despite this setback the Indians left the inning with the score tied at eight and a chance to win the game.
The Indians went 1-2-3 in their half of the inning.
Brad Hand entered in the bottom of the ninth for the Tribe in an attempt to prolong the game. He’d pitched to two hitters in the eighth but threw only ten pitches. He started off O’Hearn with two strikes, but O’Hearn battled for seven more pitches to earn a walk. The Royals then put pinch-running extraordinaire Terrance Gore on base. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Roberto Perez.
The extra base didn’t really matter; Gore can probably score on a bunt from second base. How did he manage to come home and win the game for the Royals? A Brian Dozier single.
A Truly Buried Lede
The Kansas City Royals walked off against the Cleveland Indians on a single off of Brad Hand by Brian Dozier. The Tribe fall to 8-7 on the season after the series sweep. There are some signs of encouragement in the loss; those things are very much not the key takeaways from the game.
What Does It Mean
Nothing. There isn’t really anything funny I can even come up with about the game today. This isn’t like Rajai Davis losing a ball in the sun before expectations settled their weight on the shoulders of the franchise. It’s also hard to joke when the Tribe decided to DFA Brad Miller immediately after the game, and Miller responded by saying, “Obviously, they don’t want the best guys up here.”
I’m not even sure what the front office wants to on-field product to look like anymore, because this can’t possibly be it.
Tribeable Tids for the Purpose of Bitting
- 2018 MVP Finalist Jose Ramirez is hitting .140/.180/.193 so far this season.
- As a team, the Indians are hitting .185/.276/.306 and are second-to-last in position player fWAR.
- Francisco Lindor will meet the Columbus Clippers in Louisville to begin his rehab assignment.
- The Indians twitter account is really trying, you guys. I understand that the record in early April doesn’t matter because of how much things can change over the season, but there’s a significantly different feel to this 8-7 versus previous 8-7 starts.
- I’m going to get ice cream and try to not think about how I have to recap tomorrow’s very late game against the inexplicable Seattle Mariners.