For six innings, Wednesday’s afternoon game felt a lot like a rerun of Monday night’s game, as the Cleveland Indians seemed poised to waste yet another rookie pitcher’s stellar outing due to a complete lack of offense. Fortunately, José Ramírez decided to intervene with a two-run homer in the seventh inning to put the Tribe ahead for good, paving the way for a much-needed 2-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in the opener of a double-header.
The aforementioned rookie pitcher was Zach Plesac. The Tribe’s starter scattered five hits and two walks over six innings of work, stranding all baserunners for a scoreless outing. His change-up and slider were especially effective this afternoon, good for a combined nine swinging strikes and five called strikes. It was an outing that looked a lot like his June start against the Rangers, when he allowed two hits and one earned run over seven innings, walking five and striking out six.
It was nearly for naught. The Tribe’s anemic offense couldn’t even muster a hit until the fifth inning, when Mike Freeman was able to find the outfield grass with a sharp grounder between first and second. Prior to the seventh inning, just four of the Indians’ batted balls topped an exit velocity of 100 mph, and all four were outs. Texas starter Ariel Jurado entered the game with a 4.92 ERA, allowing at least three earned runs in each of his last five starts. He barely broke a sweat against a Cleveland team that looked lost at the plate for the most part.
His fortunes changed in the seventh inning, starting with a leadoff single by Carlos Santana. Yasiel Puig followed with a strikeout, bringing José Ramírez to the plate with one out. Jurado proceeded to serve up what can only be described as a home run pitch:
It was enough for the Indians.
Nick Goody took over for Plesac in the seventh, striking out three Rangers over two scoreless innings of work to set the stage for Brad Hand in the ninth.
And now we get to do it all over again.