Our own Matt Schlichting said it best:
If Mercado and Naquin keep playing like this the Indians are going to be unstoppable— Matt (@MattSchlichting) July 20, 2019
Those two gentlemen, Oscar Mercado and Tyler Naquin, combined to go 7-for-8 with 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored. With those two sandwiching Francisco Lindor in the lineup and José Ramírez getting his swagger back and Carlos Santana continuing to hit well and Jordan Luplow mashing lefties and...by golly, we may have a baseball team on our hands.
The Tribe took down the Royals of Kansas City by a score of 10-5 and notched their sixth win in a row. Perusing the scoreboard over at Major League Baseball dot com, it seems as if the Twins of Minnesota are losing to the Athletics of Oakland in the bottom of the seventh inning. Should said Athletics continue along their path and defeat said Twins, the Tribe will be just three games back of the AL Central crown. Exciting times.
So how did the Tribe get it done tonight?
Shane Bieber does enough
Things seemed to be going well in the first inning for Mr. Bieber. He was painting the corners, he was looking dominant, and things were good. But then something happened. Bieber uncharacteristically lost control and walked back to back hitters to load the bases. Bieber, on the season, is walking fewer than two batters per game, so seeing him completely lose the strike zone for a bit was concerning. A run came home thanks to a balk* that Twitter assures me was not, in fact, a balk. But that was the only damage that Bieber allowed in the first inning, which seemed like a minor miracle at the time.
Tragedy struck again in the third inning when Shane B. allowed three straight hits to start the inning, including an RBI double by Hunter Dozier that brought in the Royals’ second run of the evening. After an intentional walk to actual baseball player Cheslor Cuthbert, the stage was set for a double play to get out of the inning. And Bieber got it...eventually and unconventionally. A fly ball off the bat of Humberto Arteaga was caught by Tyler Naquin in right field and was quickly fired home to try to beat the speedy (?) Alex Gordon at the plate. He was initially ruled safe after crab walking around home plate and Roberto Perez, but after a slick challenge by Tito, the call was overturned and the inning was over. Just like they drew it up.
Things went smoothly for S. Bieber until the sixth inning. After two quick outs, three straight members of the Midwest Monarchy reached via three singles to again load the bases. Francona had seen enough and pulled Bieber in favor of Nick Goody, who had not allowed any inherited runners to score all season. Well, there’s a first for everything. Noted fan of the Buckleberry Ferry Whit Merrifield stepped to the plate and smacked a triple into right center field, clearing the bases and bring the Royals to within one. But that’s the closest they would get on the evening since the Tribe had an answer for every run that KC scored.
The offense goes ballistic
Each time the Royals scored a run, the Indians came back in their half of the inning and scored run(s) of their own.
In the first, it was an infield grounder by Jordan Luplow that scored Lindor.
In the third, the Tribe went off for four thanks to a mammoth dinger off the right field foul pole by Tyler Naquin, a double to left by Oscar Mercado, and an infield dribbler by the Angry Hamster.
In the sixth, it was an RBI single by Oscar Mercado on the first pitch he saw.
What I’m saying is that the Tribe did a fantastic job tonight at bringing in response runs. The Royals led twice tonight, but the Indians came back each time to either tie or take the lead. That’s exactly the kind of fight you want to see in your playoff contending baseball squad. Even Greg Allen got into the action by doing his best Brandon Guyer impression and getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
In total, the Tribe recorded 16 hits on the evening and scored in five of the nine innings, including three in the eighth to put the game out of reach for Kansas City.
- Oscar Mercado went 5-for-5. That hasn’t happened often for the Tribe. In fact:
Oscar Mercado is the 12th Indians rookie since 1913 to have at least five hits in a game. He's the first since Jason Kipnis did so on Aug. 10, 2011.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) July 20, 2019
- All of the Cleveland players were wearing “I Stand For Cookie” shirts in their warmups today, and it was a beautiful site to see. It sent me to a daydream of Carrasco getting the final out of Game 7 of the World Series because maybe there is some cosmic justice in the world.
The Tribe is rolling right now and they’re fun to watch. If you haven’t been as 100% tuned in to this team this year yet (as I haven’t been), I hope you start soon. This team has something special brewing and it’s a long summer yet,
*In case you are unfamiliar with the rules of what is and is not a balk, allow me to assist with the assistance of reddit:
You can’t just be up there and just doin’ a balk like that.
1a. A balk is when you
1b. Okay well listen. A balk is when you balk the
1c. Let me start over
1c-a. The pitcher is not allowed to do a motion to the, uh, batter, that prohibits the batter from doing, you know, just trying to hit the ball. You can’t do that.
1c-b. Once the pitcher is in the stretch, he can’t be over here and say to the runner, like, “I’m gonna get ya! I’m gonna tag you out! You better watch your butt!” and then just be like he didn’t even do that.
1c-b(1). Like, if you’re about to pitch and then don’t pitch, you have to still pitch. You cannot not pitch. Does that make any sense?
1c-b(2). You gotta be, throwing motion of the ball, and then, until you just throw it.
1c-b(2)-a. Okay, well, you can have the ball up here, like this, but then there’s the balk you gotta think about.
1c-b(2)-b. Fairuza Balk hasn’t been in any movies in forever. I hope she wasn’t typecast as that racist lady in American History X.
1c-b(2)-b(i). Oh wait, she was in The Waterboy too! That would be even worse.
1c-b(2)-b(ii). “get in mah bellah” -- Adam Water, “The Waterboy.” Haha, classic...
1c-b(3). Okay seriously though. A balk is when the pitcher makes a movement that, as determined by, when you do a move involving the baseball and field of
Do not do a balk please