Tonight’s matchup had the makings of a nice come-from-behind win for the Indians, but it never quite materialized. The Athletics kept the Indians at bay thanks to two home runs from Matt Olson and a relatively uneventful four-out close by Blake Treinen.
Maybe the most important takeaway: the Indians are revolutionizing the world of finger guns.
In the beginning
Carrasco gave up a solo home run in the second inning to Jurickson Profar, who is on the verge of a breakout for the fifth consecutive season. Runners made it to second and third with two outs in the inning, but Carrasco dodged further damage with a swinging strikeout.
He stumbled his way into trouble a few more times throughout the game, sometimes escaping, sometimes not. Another solo home run from Matt Olson stretched the lead to two. Josh Phegley singled in the fourth, scoring Robbie Grossman and handing the A’s a 3-0 lead.
Carrasco finished the fifth without injury (metaphorical or real, which is never guaranteed with the way he attracts liners), but with 100 pitches already behind him it would be the end of the night. Bieber’s excellent performance last night might have influenced this a bit, as every arm in the bullpen had at least a day of rest. Three runs in five innings of work isn’t fantastic, but he at least left the game within reach for the Indians offense.
Speaking of which
Who but Oscar Mercado decided to get things going? With a single in the bottom of the fifth he put the Tribe on the board, scoring José Ramírez. The Athletics scored again in their half of the seventh, but Roberto Pérez fired right back with an opposite-field solo shot.
In case you’re wondering, Pérez is now slashing .232/.325/.434, and after today his wRC+ will put him solidly in the middle of the pack among all regular catchers. Given that we expected him to be a black hole collapsing on top of another black hole at the plate this season, that’s been nice to watch.
Anyway, in the eighth the Indians finally made a real run at the A’s. Francisco Lindor struck out to start things off, but Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana both walked to put runners on first and second for Ramírez. He singled through the hole on the right side of the infield to score Kipnis, putting the Tribe within one. Roberto Perez drew a walk to load the bases, and Blake Treinen came in to attempt the four-out save. He achieved the first out by forcing Carlos Gonzalez to ground out, leaving the bases loaded.
A hit here might have broken the game open for the Indians. Because this season has been the way that it has, things ended up breaking the other way.
Tyler Clippard pitched in the ninth. He acquired an out via ground-out before walking Marcus Semien. Olson came up once more and pummeled a low breaking ball from Clippard over the wall in left. Clippard stayed in after this, and why not? A 6-3 deficit tends to feel pretty insurmountable this season. He stayed in and induced many of his patented pop-ups to get out of the inning, but it didn’t quite go the way that you would draw it up.
Pérez whiffed on not one, but two foul pop-ups that he should have caught. The first one wasn’t easy and required a long run toward the Indians dugout. He tried to basket catch it and it bounced off of his arm. The second one... definitely should have been caught. He just missed it and then rolled around on the ground for a second, possibly to make it look like he really tried for it.
Clippard eventually got the out via a pop-up to Kipnis. The A’s handed the ball back to Blake Treinen to try and complete the save.
Spoiler: he did
The Indians made it a little interesting, though. After Mercado grounded out, Lindor took Treinen deep to right on a solo job. Kipnis came up next and worked a full count after falling behind 0-2. He smashed a ball toward the hole in right, but not hard enough; it was snared, and he became the final out of the game.
I don’t have a lot else to write about tonight’s game. Sometimes there are games that feel like they should impart some kind of lesson or give a crucial insight about the nature of the team, but when you really look at at there’s nothing there but an ordinary May baseball game.
I mean. I could keep going. I could yell and complain about the usual things, but we’re all aware of them and plenty of it is likely to happen below here, anyway. I’m not saying that you aren’t allowed to or that you aren’t justified in doing so. We’re all fans; we have emotions and opinions and thoughts and even in a 162-game season every game is still its own occurrence that is perfectly capable of stoking any or all of those up. This wasn’t even a bad bad loss; it ended up just being a regular disappointing 6-4 loss to start a series.
I just thought that tonight would be a really, really good night for the Indians to get an Important Win. One of the ones that you might be able to point to later on in the season and say, “Hey, that one where we almost came back, blew it, and then really did come all the way back to win? That was awesome, and it really lit a fire under the team.” I guess it wasn’t to be.
Maybe the problem is that the Game of Thrones season 8 production team is in charge of this Indians season. Maybe I’ve just run out of good jokes more than three years into my watch on this website. Maybe I’m just inflating the word count at this point and figuring that only five of you made it all the way down here. Hi, folks.