The Cleveland Indians fought through a controversial seventh inning to that soured an otherwise spectacular start by Shane Bieber and defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 this afternoon. Despite “allowing” the Twins to score all three of their runs in the seventh and tie the game, the Tribe battled to victory behind a solo home run by Carlos Santana and excellent relief work by Adam Cimber and Brad Hand.
Okay but let’s just cut to that seventh inning, because it was pretty nuts
Everybody can agree that Shane Bieber pitched an exceptional baseball game through six innings today. Opinions might diverge when the seventh inning is included.
Bieber allowed all three of his runs in that inning today, although it’s debatable as to whether or not any of that was his fault. Except for the first batter. He very much walked Luis Arraez. After that, things got weird.
Mitch Garver bailed out as the ball bounced off of the knob of his bat. It looked pretty clear to everybody that the ball hit the knob. Garver’s hand jiggled and he shook it in a little bit of pain, but bat reverberation can do that. Because, you know, you’re holding a piece of wood that just got struck by a solid object traveling 90 mph.
Regardless, the umpire waived him toward first base, believing that he’d been hit by the pitch. Terry Francona challenged the call, and for good reason:
After a couple of minutes of discussion, it was declared that the call would stand. I can only assume that, for some reason, the folks in New York decided that this pitch made contact with Garver’s hand. I don’t know what that reason is, and it would be unprofessional of me to speculate that it was a fantastic batch of psychedelics.
With a 2-2 count against Miguel Sanó, Bieber slotted a fastball near the edge of the plate that the umpire called a ball. In this instance, I don’t think the umpire deserves to get murdered; the pitch was actually a ball.
That being said this is definitely one that can go the pitcher’s way, in particular for a guy like Bieber who is known for his accuracy.
Next, Jake Cave came up to the plate. Another fastball came up and in; Cave held back as the pitched bounced off of the knob of the bat again. Cave sort of looked down at his hand, shrugged it off, and started to get ready for the next pitch.
Before anything could get moving, Rocco Baldelli ran out, challenged the call of a foul ball (there were already two strikes), and the call was overturned. This is a tough one for me. It’s possible that yes, maybe it did hit him. Except that Cave didn’t react in a way that would have made anyone think that the pitch hit him. Based on the video I’m also not really sure you can definitively overturn the call on the field, either. Yeah, his hand moves, but that happens when a fastball hits an item that you are holding.
The point is: Cave earned an RBI HBP, and since it was the third borderline or outright bad call of the inning, everybody screamed. I definitely did, in addition to offering the choicest of words.
Bieber hung on for one more batter and earned a strikeout. Then, Oliver Pérez came in to pitch to Max Kepler. That’s when the dumbest thing of all happened: Kepler popped up right into the dead zone between center field and second base. The only person in history who may possibly have tracked it down is an alternate-universe Usain Bolt who was raised by Ozzie Smith.
Despite the ordeal, Bieber finished today’s game with the following line: 6.1 IP, 5H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 9K. With a little bit more luck and competence from the umpiring squad he may very well have finished seven or eight shutout innings.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter — the official scoreline is final, such is baseball, we’re all going to die when the Yellowstone Supervolcano explodes, etc.
As noted in the lede, Cimber and Hand held the lead after Carlos Santana created it in the bottom of the seventh. They combined for 2.1 scoreless innings of work, with one hit and an error between the two of them. Cimber struck out two in his multiple-inning appearances, while Hand struck out the side in the top of the ninth.
Notable offense from earlier in the game
Carlos Santana and Bobby Bradley walked back-to-back in the bottom of the first inning with two outs. José Ramírez stepped up, smashing a double into the right field corner just past the glove of Miguel Sanó. Santana scored while Bradley held at third, putting the Indians on the board.
Greg Allen failed to get the sacrifice bunt down in the bottom of the fourth. While this should raise some ire — a rangy centerfielder with speed is exactly the kind of guy you expect to get a bunt down — it ended up being a good thing. He poked a single through into center field to drive Jake Bauers home from second. Allen advanced on a Kevin Plawecki groundout, then scored when Tyler Naquin hit a single nearly identical to Allen’s.
That’s all that the Indians should have needed today. Blessing to Carlos Santana for cleaning up what might have ended up being one of the more contentious and upsetting losses for the season.
As a final note, Santana drew two total walks on top of his homer, and Tyler Naquin added a double to his hit in the fourth. Jake Bauers also doubled.
The Detroit Tigers roll into town tomorrow night to kick off a four game series. I think you’d have to be nuts to say that the Indians’ momentum from before the All-Star break is broken; they battled today to hang on to the win. While the offense does look a bit sluggish this team still sports one of the best records in the league since June 3.