At one point today, I was worried I’d have to find a way to make Mike Freeman interesting again.
Baseball’s faceless one was seemingly the only Indians player getting in on the action through the first couple innings, but eventually everyone else woke up and defeated the Royals, 8-3.
Even with a relatively unexciting stat line of 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, and 4 SO, it was the zero earned runs one and one gigantic diving catch that made Zach Plesac the hero of today’s game. The rookie located his fastball well and took advantage of a buckwild strikezone to the tune of 10 called strikes.
He also did this:
As you might expect with only four strikeouts, Plesac got some help from the defense, and even some bone-headed Royals base-running early on when Lucas Duda got caught in the least effective rundown in history. Bubba Starling tried to make a run for home seeing his teammate dead to rights with two outs already on the board, but Francisco Lindor gunned him down at the plate. I particularly like the FanGraphs’ account of this play, which reads, verbatim:
Lucas Duda singled to left (Liner). Bubba Starling out at home. Lucas Duda
It doesn’t even know how to describe what the hell Lucas Duda attempted to do. He just Duda’d.
Bubba Starling would exact his revenge later on with a laser of a throw from center field to get Lindor at home. A ball that, according to Statcast, was thrown 100.7 mph from the outfield. I know this isn’t an Indians highlight, but come on, it’s beautiful.
Hey, there's a reason the Cornhuskers wanted him to be their quarterback.— FOX Sports Kansas City (@FSKansasCity) July 27, 2019
Bubba Starling shows off his cannon arm, throwing out Francisco Lindor at home plate.
Tune in now on FSKC and FSGO: https://t.co/0kbGxS9oGv #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/aXPve5W06n
The one run that crossed the plate with Plesac on the mound was hardly his fault. Noted not-third-baseman Mike Freeman botched a play at third, which allowed future Indian Whit Merrifield to reach, and two batters later Hunter Dozier knocked him in. Plesac recovered by retiring the next eight batters he faced with the help of a double play.
Plesac looked solid in every facet of the game, and above all he let most of the bullpen get a well-deserved rest day with his extended outing. Adam Cimber almost shot all of that to hell with a rocky ninth inning, but he was able to keep it together and keep the victory as a two-pitcher affair.
What about the ... *checks notes* ... eight runs that the Indians scored? Outside of Francisco Lindor tripling and Mike Freeman dinking him in with a single, it was mostly quiet on the offensive front through the first half of the game. It wasn’t until one man found his Home Run Pitch that things got going.
José Ramírez helped with three of the eight runs tonight, thanks to his ability to dig this golf ball out of the bottom of the zone and flip it over the right field wall.
José’s 428-foot dong marks the first time he’s homered in back-to-back games since he hit in three-straight games last August. While he didn’t hit a home run of his own and continue the reincarnation of the Bash Bros, Francisco Lindor had a three-hit night from the lead-off spot.
Elsewhere on offense, Jake Bauers racked up two hits, and Tyler Naquin, in his first game back from hamstring tightness, went 3-for-4 with a run batted in and he scored twice. Eventually Tyler Naquin being really good is going to stop being a punchline and start being a real thing. Because he’s done nothing but prove he can hit this season; at the very least, he’s able to capitalize on enough of the bad pitches he gets, and maybe that’s all he really needs to succeed.
All of Naquin’s hits tonight (two singles and a double) were on balls middle or down in the zone. One of the singles was way inside on him and he turned on it, and the double was just a bad pitch over the heart of the plate. He saw 11 total pitches tonight, only two of them were fastballs up in the zone, his well-documented weakness. Whatever works, man.
The Indians come away with a much-needed victory, but their new best friends in Chicago couldn’t come through as the Twins beat the White Sox, 6-2. Tomorrow, the Tribe will continue to battle the Royals while they wait for the Twins to continue their collapse. Hopefully.