You like three-run homers? How about SEVEN of them!? That’d be something.
Well the Indians didn’t hit seven three-run homers, they only hit three, but that’s still impressive, right?
The three big dongs tonight, en route to a 10-4 win over the Astros, came off the bats of Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Roberto Pérez. Kipnis’s home run was the dagger in the sixth inning that put the Indians up by six, and he also singled in the fifth. Roberto, on the other hand, gave the Indians their first lead of the game with his three-run shot in the second and pushed the lead to three with his solo shot to lead off the sixth. That’s right: multiple dongs.
This was Pérez’s first multi-homer game of his career in the regular season. You may have heard of his other two-homer game. In 2016. Against the Cubs. In October. Tonight wasn’t “dominating a game of the World Series by yourself” big, but considering the Marlins laid a turd against the Twins, it was pretty important the Indians came away with a win. Roberto certainly helped that.
Before the flurry of dingers blocked out the sun, the Indians resorted to their same old bunting ways in the fifth inning. Down 4-3, Francisco Lindor led off with a double, and Oscar Mercado tried to bunt, but ended up working ahead in the count, 2-0, thanks to some wild pitches. He briefly ditched the idea of giving away an out for free while down by a run, but when the count turned back in the pitcher’s favor, he laid down a bunt that spun in front of home plate. Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos tried to get Lindor out at third instead of taking the easy out at first, was too late, and gave Mercado positive reinforcement for bunting. Great. Everyone was safe and a batter later Carlos Santana added his own three-run homer of the evening.
This was hardly a marquee matchup against the Astros’ Jose Urquidy — who won’t even be in the rotation once their deadline acquisitions get to town — but the Indians still scored six runs off him and four off the bullpen. Better yet, their own rookie pitcher, Zach Plesac, worked his way out of multiple jams against one of the best offenses in baseball.
Plesac benefited from, and was hurt by, a truly bizarre strikezone from the armor-clad human element behind the home plate. Of Plesac’s 27 strikes, 18 were called. On the other side, 17 of Urquidy’s 22 strikes were called. Few of them made sense.
The real issue with the strikezone tonight came with Plesac getting absolutely squeezed.
Jake Bauers, who is extremely patient at the plate, likely to his detriment, was especially victimized by the wild strike zone. His only two called strikes of the night were blatant balls.
I don’t want to make this anymore of a big umpire pout fest, because the Indians offense and bullpen looked really, really good today, and that should be commended. And hell, I’ll say it: Plesac was perfectly fine for a rookie facing such a hellish lineup. Even with Bauer gone, he’s still probably the fifth starter in a healthy rotation and he kept the Astros in check with four earned runs in five innings. Some luck (and Nick Goody tossing an absolutely filthy slider) was involved and some loaded bases were diffused, but I’ll take it.
Assuming Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes come to town tomorrow, this was likely Jason Kipnis’s last game as a clean-up hitter. It may have also been Bauers last game of the year in the majors. Somewhere on the bench, Greg Allen might have watched his last game from afar before rejoining the Clippers in Columbus. Changes are coming, and they’re gonna be big.
For now, Gerrit Cole looms tomorrow, and he’ll be facing a pitcher that hasn’t picked up a baseball in a major-league game since 2017 in Danny Salazar. Should be fun and/or terrifying.