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Fourteen strikeouts, eleven stranded: one Indians loss

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Aaron Civale had a quality start, though.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins offered the Cleveland Indians plenty of opportunities to take the lead in tonight’s game. Despite some well-hit balls late the Tribe came up short in a 3-2 loss.

Other than the Franimal Game in Detroit, it feels like most of my recaps this year end up falling on rain delays or sad low-scoring losses. Instead of rehashing old territory I will write this recap in tandem with a bot that generates text using the GPT-2 language model. Bot, how did you feel about tonight’s performance?

Bot:

The Indians’ first baseman, Jose Ramirez, would come up big with three-run shots in the top of the eighth, and then a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

Here is tonight’s box score:

Manny Machado

Joey Rickard

Andrew Miller

Rajai Davis

Jered Weaver

Ezequiel Carrera

Matt Boyd

Ryne Sandberg

Matt:

Couple of things to touch base on here. First, Ramirez doesn’t play first base, and he certainly didn’t hit two home runs tonight to win the game. That would have been awesome. I would have written about that instead of bringing you on board to shoulder the load. That’s also quite a lineup you’ve put together there. Does Miller get a lot of RBIs in the three-hole?

Bot:

No, really not. Are there any big guys in this lineup? Well... Yes. And it’s got four power guys on the left side of the infield. Which is interesting to me. Not so much to you... but I wouldn’t have predicted anything different with the first five, right? Now I’ve got the idea that this team might try to win the World Series because of something besides its players. The players, as usual, have no idea. If the season started today, the Yankees would be on the brink of the postseason. But the team itself doesn’t know whether it’s going to be good enough to be good and not-good-enough to win. Or... Oh, now I’ve got the idea that the players aren’t just being self-aware but actually thinking.

Matt:

I’m going to be honest - you might be coining a team motto with “Good enough to be good and not-good-enough to win.” That feels a little harsh given the overall record, but for tonight’s game it rings true. After all, the Tribe recorded twelve hits tonight, with four different players logging multi-hit games. Carlos Santana went 3-5 with an RBI and an rocket shot off of the wall in left that Eddie Rosario held to a single. Cesar Hernandez stayed hot with a home run and a double, and Tyler Naquin’s aggressive approach paid off with a double of his own. I’m not feeling nice enough to say that “sequencing” is to blame for the loss tonight, but when a team gets twelve hits and only one came with a runner in scoring position (out of nine tries) you can’t dismiss it out-of-hand.

How did you feel about the Indians’ pitching tonight, Botty?

Bot:

I thought they were terrific, a lot of good stuff. They did a nice job. I feel like every night they give us something to think about. I thought they played hard. They were playing like they were playing tonight.

Matt:

They were playing like they were playing but James Karinchak sure isn’t playing. He struck out two more hitters in one inning of work and looks like the best reliever in baseball, doesn’t he?

Bot:

I am a big fan of the way that he gets the ball out of the hands of certain batters and allows the guys in front of him to have a chance to finish their own business. He looked comfortable and he looked like he could help us win today. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up the momentum that he has shown over the past few weeks. All three of those starting pitchers looked pretty good today and they are going to face a good lineup tomorrow.

Matt:

Wittgren came after him and gave up a few long flyballs, but no damage done; Indeed, he finished the business. Not sure about the three starting pitchers there, but yes, they face another good lineup tomorrow night.

Let’s circle back to the offense for a bit. The Indians struck out to end the inning with runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The eighth looked the most promising, as Naquin doubled to lead off but never advanced after that. What do you think this team needs to do in order to wake up the bats?

Bot:

In the past, I’ve been in the ballpark a lot. I’ve noticed, this spring, there are many more players who are wearing some type of protective gear on their head or on their face. I know a lot of guys have been wearing head gear, either an extra hard hat or anything to protect their skull.

Matt:

Are you suggesting that not wearing a helmet might help the Indians’ find a groove at the plate?

Bot:

It’s a bit of a stretch, to be honest.

We’re dealing with an old version of the game, a version that relied less on good hitting and more on smart fielding. That hasn’t changed since the first strike, or since the introduction of new rules and technology.

The Indians are just the latest and most successful examples.

The Mets were the last to put helmets on their players. A few years ago, they started wearing them. They were eventually banned, but the results weren’t pretty. The Nationals and Pirates have both experimented with them, so you can see where I’m coming from.

The Indians have a problem, which is that the players already have the advantage. They have to do a lot of running around to be effective at the plate. That’s going to require different techniques, so they can’t rely on instinct. That said, they already have the benefits of running around: better bat speed, better timing, less fatigue.

Matt:

Interesting, and I agree - it sounds like a stretch. Well, tomorrow night the Indians complete the first half of the season when they face the Twins once more with Rich Hill and Shane Bieber set to square off. Care to make any predictions?

Bot:

I don’t think we need to see this game, but I’m hearing the Twins have a better time than the Indians. Here are my early picks: Indians over Twins 10-2 Yankees over Indians 6-5 Blue Jays over Indians 3-3 Padres over Indians 5-1 Phillies over Indians 8-4 Cubs over Indians 10-2 Giants over Indians 9-3 Mets over Indians 9-4 Marlins over Indians 9-4 Yankees over Astros 2-0 Astros over Indians 7-5

Matt:

So. We beat the Twins? I’ll take it. Any final thoughts?

Bot:

I have enjoyed the support and feedback I received from the community and I am looking forward to this opportunity. It was a fun sequel to “The Perfect Weapon”, and that would be a good ending. While this will most likely be nothing but filler from “The Perfect Weapon”, my plan is to eventually find an actual theme song for this series, and do a couple of parody songs to “Godzilla” movies. It has never been a part of my final thought, as I don’t see myself directing this anymore, or ever.