Today’s game was a back and forth affair until the Indians were able to pull ahead in the late innings and never look back.
Francisco Lindor v. Yasiel Puig
If you weren’t quite settled in at the start of the game, you missed the Tribe getting off to a quick 1-0 lead thanks to another Francisco Lindor leadoff home run. Mr. Smile needed just four pitches at the top of the game before blasting a ball 355 feet into the right field seats. Unfortunately, it only took Yasiel Puig four pitches to do the same thing in the bottom half of the inning. The only different between Lindor’s homer and Puig’s (aside from about 30 feet) was that Puig’s came with a runner on base. So after the first frame, the score was Lindor 1, Puig 2.
It took the Cleveland Lindors a few innings to find another run, but they did in the fifth inning thanks again to Francisco Lindor. Lindor took a 85 mph knuckle curve from Anthony DeSclafani and dumped it into the right field seats to tie the game at 2.
With the game knotted at two runs apiece, both Francisco Lindor and Yasiel Puig ceased contributing offensively for the remainder of the game (Puig would reach on a throwing error a few innings later, but he ended up stranded at third thanks to the excellent pitching by All-Star Shane Bieber. But more on him later). The game would be decided by the other 8 position players (you know, because NL). And it was decided in favor of the Cleveland Indians in the final two innings of the game.
The Indians stretch the lead
In the eighth inning with the score still tied at 2, José Ramírez had his first non-strikeout plate appearance of the day in the form of a double to right field. After seeing Ramírez struggle mightily at the plate for the majority of the day, it was nice to see him come through in a crucial moment. That paved the way for Roberto Pérez to do this two hitters later:
The All-Star snub went mashed an opposite field dinger to give the Indians a lead they would never lose. For those keeping track at home, Bebo now has 16 homers on the year. His career best was 8 during the 2017 campaign. But sure, he’s not an All-Star.
After a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the inning courtesy of Shane Bieber (more on him later), the Tribe padded their lead in the top of the ninth. Bobby Bradley came in to pinch hit in Shane Bieber’s spot in the rotation and quickly rocketed a double to right field (I feel that Bobby Bradley only hits doubles). Lindor and Mercado quickly made two outs on 6 pitches, which brought up Carlos Santana. Matt Bowman wanted nothing to do with the All-Star first baseman, so he was intentionally walked to bring up Jason Kipnis. Jason Kipnis was then unintentionally walked on four straight pitches to load the bases.
Sweet move, Bowman.
José Ramírez worked a full count himself before drawing a walk and bringing in Greg Allen (who was pinch running for Bobby Bradley). Again, after having a terrible first three plate appearances where he struck out each time, it was nice to see Ramírez find his eye at the plate and lay off some garbage pitches. Jake Bauers stepped to the plate next and knocked the first pitch he saw into right field, scoring two more runs in the process. As Matt Underwood said, “that may have been the back breaker”.
And the back breaker it was. Despite a leadoff double by Joey Votto, Nick Goody struck out the next three Reds to end the game.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, we would get to Shane Bieber later. Well later is now and Shane “All-Star” Bieber was incredible in his final start of the first half. Sure he gave up a few hard hits to Yasiel Puig (two on pitches that happened to drift just a touch too far over the plate), but he was otherwise untouchable. Outside of the Puig’s three hits, the only other hitter to notch a hit off of Bieber was Eugenio Suarez in the first inning. Coupled with the fact that Bieber didn’t allow any walks and he notched eight strikeouts, it appeared to be a free and easy day on the mound for him. 13 swinging strikes on the day for Bieber, 10 of which came via his slider. Since he pitched so close to the All-Star Game, it’s likely that he won’t actually throw on Tuesday. But damn if he doesn’t look fantastic right now. This is just the third time this season that Bieber pitched 8 or more innings; with innings eaters like Kluber and Carrasco currently out of the rotation, it’s a good sign that Bieber is starting to go deeper into games to save the bullpen.
The Tribe has their final game of the first half tomorrow before a handful of Cleveland players head home to represent Cleveland in the All-Star Game. After all of the ups and downs of the last few months, it finally seems that things are trending in the right direction.
- The game would’ve started off terribly had it not been for an incredible leaping grab in center field by Oscar Mercado.
- Carlos Santana had a 10-game hitting streak come to an end. His final plate appearance was an intentional walk so he didn’t get a chance to extend the streak in the ninth.
- The Indians have won five in a row. They can make it a cool half dozen tomorrow.
- More importantly, the Tribe will retain the Ohio Cup for another year.