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Indians leave 472 men on base, drop to second place

The result was what many of us expected, but the journey there was anything but.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

People to blame for losing this game

  • Every Cleveland Indians hitter not named Yasiel Puig
  • Terry Francona
  • Matt Lyons:

People not to blame for losing this game

  • Adam Plutko

“But Tyler!” you exclaim, “Adam Plutko is basically a #9 pitcher who gave up all four runs to the Twins tonight. He is clearly the one at fault here, leave Mr. Lyons out of this”.

Well, dear reader, I think you’ll find your answer in your exclamation. Adam Plutko is not what one would call a “good” MLB pitcher. On a team (like our own Cleveland Indians) that consistently deploys above-average to elite pitchers, seeing someone come out who is the embodiment of “meh” tends to skew expectations. But here’s the thing: Adam Plutko did his job for the most part tonight. His final line looks worse because of his manager’s questionable (I’m being generous) decision to leave him in in the seventh inning. 24 hours ago, if I asked 100 Cleveland fans if they would take 6 innings and 3 runs by Plutko, 94 of them would have said yes and the other 6 would be liars. I don’t blame Plutko for giving up the fourth Minnesota run. I blame Terry Francona for rolling the dice and putting Plutko in a position that he shouldn’t have been in in the first place.

“But Tyler!” you retort, “Plutko got through the sixth inning with just five pitches. Surely this means that he was still fresh to go in the seventh!”. No, this is an incorrect mindset. A poor process that yields positive results does not retroactively make the process a good one. Plutko gave up five hits (including a double and a triple) in the fourth inning and then a home run in the fifth. The Twins were getting the hang of Plutko and figuring him out (which, if you refer back up to the first paragraph, is not an especially difficult task to do). Had it not been for Yasiel Puig’s cannon of an arm in right field to gun down C.J. Cron at the plate in the fourth and end the inning, it’s likely that the game spirals out of control right then and there and we aren’t even having this conversation. But some nifty defense and some slick pitching got Plutko through six innings with the game still intact. That’s more than anyone should have expected of him, and to pin the loss on him is misguided. If you want to look for the real culprits tonight, look no further than

The disappearing Cleveland Indians offense

It’s unfair of us to expect every night to be like the previous two at the plate. Teams will have bad days for no other reason than the randomness of a 162-game baseball season. But damn if it isn’t frustrating to lose a game like this when there were ample opportunities to keep pace with the Twins and/or take the lead. If you want to know what I’m talking about in Tweet form, allow Zack Meisel to enlighten us:

For six of the nine innings, the Indians got at least one runner into scoring position and then did nothing. Credit to Jake Odorizzi, he has reinvigorated his career this season and it showed tonight, but the Indians offense sure gave him a lot of help, as evidenced by the 18 swinging strikes that he got. And it’s not like Odorizzi was a master of the strike zone tonight either, he also walked four hitters across his 5.2 innings. The offense was on the precipice of going bonkers all night and then fell flat in multiple key situations.

All said and done, the Tribe stranded 20 men on base tonight. TWENTY. And you, random internet user, want to blame Adam Plutko? For shame. The most egregious blunder at the dish tonight came in the third inning. The bases were loaded and Gregory Allen stepped to the plate. He whiffed on three straight pitches (all in the zone) to end the inning. The Tribe didn’t have a better opportunity than that one all night.

But in a sea of offensive futility, one man stood strong among the rest. I speak, of course, of Yasiel Puig. I (like many of you) have been on the Puig train for a few seasons now, and tonight shows exactly why. He was the only Cleveland hitter to have more than one hit (he had three), and he gunned down a runner at the plate to save a run. One of those three hits was his first home run in a Cleveland uniform. Behold:

You want numbers? I’ve got some numbers for you:

I don’t care how unlikely it is, sign the man to a contract for 2020. He makes such a difference in this lineup and on this team. I want him to help bring a championship to Cleveland. Do it now.

The bit tids

  • An almost two hour rain delay and the Tribe couldn’t come back with a win, which means we all stayed up late just to be sad.
  • I talked a bit about the futility of the offense tonight, but the worst offender of the evening was probably José Ramírez. The revitalized Angry Hamster had a bad night at the plate, going 0-for-4 and leaving five of the aforementioned 20 men on base. He also missed a fairly routine play in the field that wasn’t ruled an error but probably should have been.
  • Franmil Reyes also continued to struggle. Tito gave him the night off until he was summoned to pinch hit for Tyler Naquin in the ninth inning. He struck out on four pitches.
  • Don’t look now, but Roberto Pérez is in a fairly prolonged slump. In his last 105 plate appearances, Pérez is slashing .209/.288/.429 with a wRC+ of 78 and a K% of 25.7%. Not great.

I, like many of you, mentally chalked this one up as a loss before it even began based on the pitching matchup. I don’t think anyone would fault you for that. Even though this game ended up as a loss, it happened in a way in which was incredibly frustrating because it was a very winnable game. Hopefully the Tribe finds themselves in a winnable position tomorrow in the series finale since a win would put them in a tie for first place once again.