It’s really hard to win a baseball game if you don’t score any runs. I haven’t checked all of FanGraphs, but I reckon that it’s never happened. The Tribe tried their best today to scratch across a win with no runs, but they, like all other teams in the history of baseball, ended up with a loss after failing to score a run. Had Adam Plutko pitched like many thought he would, maybe the loss wouldn’t be so irritating. But instead, he pitched like an ace and gave up just a single run across seven innings of work. He also got stuck with the loss, which is all the evidence that you need that pitcher wins and losses are a stupid stat.
Adam Plutko, Major League Ace
The first inning started off with two quick outs via weak ground out for Adam Plutko, but Hunter Dozier stepped to the plate and promptly blasted a home run to right field. Because of the weather in Cleveland this evening, many figured that this would be the first of many, many dingers from both teams. Instead, this was not only the only home run of the night (on either side), but it was the only run total. Part of this was because Adam Plutko figured out how to shut down major league hitters and get out of tough spots when needed.
Plutko was fantastic all night. He only managed 10 swinging strikes and 4 strikeouts, but it didn’t matter. He induced weak contact all night (no batted ball had an exit velocity over 100 mph). Following the home run, Plutko didn’t give up another hit until Cam Gallagher doubled over the head of Tyler Naquin in the fifth inning (a hit that may have been an out had Naquin taken a better route to the ball). After getting through the meat of the Royals’ lineup in the sixth without incident, many figured that the night was done for Plutko. But nope, Plutko came out again in the seventh and got another 1-2-3 inning to conclude his evening. You could not ask more of Adam Plutko and it’s a damn shame that the offense completely pooped the bed. Speaking of which...
The offense completely pooped the bed
The theme of last night’s game was response runs. Every run the Royals scored, the Indians came back with runs of their own and were never out of the game. Tonight, the Indians couldn’t break through at all. Francisco Lindor started the game with a bloop single into left field and Carlos Santana walked to put two on with one out. Three pitches later, the Royals were coming to bat thanks to two flyouts by Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez.
No one else got a hit for Cleveland until the sixth inning. There were a couple of walks sprinkled in here and there, but Cy Young (?) candidate Jakob Junis retired 13 hitters in a row before walking Santana again and giving up a single to Kip in the sixth. Ramirez then struck out to end the inning.
When Junis left the game in the seventh, the Tribe didn’t fare much better. Aside from a double by Greg Allen (sandwiched by strikeouts from Roberto Perez and Tyler Naquin), no one else got on base for the Indians for the rest of the game. All told, the Tribe struck out 13 times and got 3 hits. Not a great recipe for success.
- Billy Hamilton made a wonderful catch in the sixth that robbed Lindor of at least a double. Some think that it would’ve been a home run, but it didn’t look like it would clear the fence regardless of Hamilton’s acrobatics.
- Cam Gallagher had a brilliant TOOTBLAN in the eighth inning. Not exactly sure what he was doing (I think he was hoping that Billy Hamilton would get a bunt down), but he was caught in no man’s land between second and third and was easily thrown out by Perez.
- Nick Wittgren had a pretty heads up play in the top of the ninth. After walking Jorge Soler and giving up a single to Cheslor Cuthbert to start the inning, Humberto Arteaga attempted to bunt each runner over. But instead of a good bunt, he popped the ball up in front of the mound. All runners held, expecting Wittgren to make the catch. But Nick “High Baseball IQ” Wittgren instead let the ball drop in front of him. He promptly picked up the ball and fired to Ramirez at third who relayed the ball to Lindor at second for a double play. This scheme amused Lindor, who then did his best dressage dance on the bag.
- Home plate umpire Ryan Blakney was absolutely terrible. Give me robot umpires yesterday.
The Twins have taken the lead over the A’s in the bottom of the seventh because of course they did. If the A’s can’t come back, the Indians will play tomorrow’s rubber match 4.0 games back of the AL Central leaders. Go Oakland.