The official Cleveland Indians’ Twitter account is pretty bad unless you like cringe-worthy memes and antagonizing fans/other MLB teams. But the rest of Cleveland Twitter is pretty great. You’ve got @sportsyelling, @NachoHelmet, and @HipsterTito to name a few. And, of course, one of my personal favorites:
Oscar Mercado - Cleveland Indians (14) 3 Run Bing Bong— Indians Bing Bongs (@TribeBingBongs) September 23, 2019
Franmil Reyes - Cleveland Indians (36) 2 Run Bing Bong— Indians Bing Bongs (@TribeBingBongs) September 23, 2019
The sole purpose of this account is to alert you when a member of the Cleveland Indians have hit a home run, aka a bing bong. Well, the Tribe bing bonged their way into a playoff slot this evening as they are now even with the Tampa Bay Rays with a 92-64 record for the second wild card spot. There are still six games to play for the Tribe this season, but they at least won today when Oakland and Tampa Bay lost. How did it happen?
Adam Plutko did aight
It’s difficult to ascribe the word “good” with a start that only lasted 4.1 innings, but Adam Plutko wasn’t bad either. He only threw 78 pitches this evening (43 of which were strikes) and he only induced 6 swinging strikes, but he stayed out of trouble for the most part. A Bryce Harper double in the first inning was quickly rendered irrelevant thanks to a Rhys Hoskins strikeout. The third inning was when the Phillies were able to knock home a run thanks to a double by J.T. Realmuto. And it was scorched at 107.9 mph, the hardest hit of the game per baseball savant. Harper was up next and was intentionally walked to bring up Hoskins, who grounded to third and allowed Ryan Flaherty to throw out Harper at second. The fourth inning (much like the second), Plutko sat the Phillies down in order and looked good to go for another inning. But back to back hits to leadoff the fifth inning prompted Tito to yank Plutko early (after he got Cesar Hernandez to pop out) in favor of Carlos Carrasco. And folks, Cookie is back.
Cookie is back
In case you’ve forgotten, Carlos Carrasco is battling leukemia. And yes, that continues to be relevant because he continues to be a good baseball player and a fantastic human being despite his struggles with the disease. Any production from Carrasco after his diagnosis should be treated as a bonus because it’s a miracle he’s even playing in any capacity, much less at the highest level of the sport. Up to this point in his comeback, however, he’s struggled to really find his groove. Tonight, however, Cookie gave the Cleveland faithful a ton to cheer about. Carrasco was able to go 2.2 innings, his longest outing since his return on September 1. And he had it all working tonight. His fastball up at the 93-94 mph range, and his slider and split-change combined for 7 swinging strikes out of 9 total. Of the 30 pitches he threw tonight, 22 were strikes. Again, he only needed 30 pitches to make it through 2.2 innings. Carrasco’s comeback story reached a triumphant climax tonight when he struck out Adam Haseley to end the 7th.
Carlos Carrasco pumping his fist and yelling after inducing a key double play in a critical game in late September. Who would have predicted that in June? Impossible to understate Carrasco's 2019 tale.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) September 23, 2019
No matter how many he's gotten, it's impossible not to have goosebumps during ovations for Carlos Carrasco.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) September 23, 2019
Do it for Cookie, folks.
The offense erupts to put the game out of reach
The double play that Meisel is referring to in the tweet above came to end the fifth inning. At the time, the score was tied 1-1 and Carrasco came on in relief with a man on first and third with one out. A loss tonight may have sealed the deal on the season, but Cookie made sure that didn’t happen. Then, it was up to the offense to give him some support.
And support they did.
A couple of errors by the Phillies to start the bottom half of the fifth allowed Greg Allen and Roberto Pérez to both reach (despite Pérez trying to give away an out via bunt). Ryan Flaherty than bunted right to the pitcher, which resulted in Allen being thrown out at third. I’m as anti-bunting as a lot of folks, but I can see here that the bunt allowed Flaherty to create just one out instead of two, so I’ll take it as a minor victory. Lindor then hit a groundball to the pitcher and, again, the lead runner was thrown out at third. Oscar Mercado came to the plate and tried a different approach:
The crack of the bat on this one may be one of the best sounds I’ve heard all season. If you need a moment to compose yourself, please feel free to step away and come back when you’re ready...
...all good? Alright, let’s continue.
Mercado had the first Tribe bing bong of the night to put Cleveland out in front. The lead would hold up, but some other folks got in on the action before the night was over.
In the seventh inning, actual baseball player Ryan Flaherty roped a 102.5 mph double to center field on the first pitch he saw. Lindor then singled on the first pitch he saw, allowing Flaherty to score. Mike Morin, wanting no part of Oscar Mercado, walked him to get to *checks notes* Carlos Santana, who had gone 3-for-3 up that point in the night. Santana reached base again, this time thanks to being hit by the pitch, to load the bases. Enter Yasiel Puig:
Not quite a bing bong, but a bases clearing double. And if Puig is getting hot now on top of José Ramírez returning, watch out. The final bing bong of the night came courtesy of Franmil Reyes two hitters later:
Two things. One, Reyes hit that home run while falling down; oh my is he powerful. And two, the only thing that would’ve made it better would be if it had taken Slider out. But alas, the purple nightmare lives to see another day.
The Tribe has tomorrow off but Tampa Bay does not. Should the Rays lose to the Sawx tomorrow, the Indians will head into the penultimate series of the season in sole possession of the #2 wild card spot. Hold onto your butts.