Some say if you’re at Busch Stadium late at night, you can still see Yadier Molina standing halfway between third base and home plate protesting a clearly fair ball.
That’s exactly how a bizarre, extra-long game against the Indians and Cardinals ended this afternoon, with a future Hall of Fame catcher standing in no man’s land while a future Hall of Fame first baseman (let me dream) can’t believe his eyes and prepares to put him in an easy rundown to end it in the 12th. Without Tyler Naquin doubling home Mike Freeman in the top of the 12th, we might still be watching these two do something resembling baseball for another four or five innings, at minimum.
Throughout their 12 innings of work, the Indians offense mustered just five hits. All but Naquin’s go-ahead double came from the top three of the lineup — César Hernández, José Ramírez, and Francisco Lindor — and only José managed more than one hit on the day. One of Ramírez’s hits, a first-inning home run, gave the Indians the lead and the game’s only scoreboard action for a full seven innings, when Matt Carpenter tied it up on a single that scored Brad Miller.
James Karinchak was the unfortunate pitcher on the mound in that circumstance, and for the first time all year he merely looked good and not like one of the best relievers in baseball. He couldn’t get his fastball in the zone and as a result he leaned heavily on his curveball (20 of 29 pitches were the curve). But even that still resulted in four swings and misses and five called strikes, so it’s hard to say he didn’t have it all today. At the very least, he was able to work through early struggles, which is encouraging. Although all three of his outs were strikeouts, he ended up needing 29 pitches to get through one inning and he allowed a run on two hits and a walk.
From there, acting manager Sandy Alomar had to empty the bullpen to get the Tribe through another four innings and he did a masterful job of it. Phil Maton, Oliver Perez, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand closed out the game.
After a couple bad outings, it was nice to see Carlos Carrasco get back on track, especially with his slider. He threw it 26 times tonight; it was never hit hard and it induced five swinging strikes. He seemed to only get better as the game went on, and it culminated in a five-pitch sixth inning to put him at 85 pitches for the day before he was pulled for Karinchak.
One stray observation that doesn’t quite fit anywhere: Franmil Reyes was desperately trying to crush everything again. Not sure what brought this about, given his success recently, but he was swinging out of his shoes on just about everything and it resulted in an 0-for-4, two strikeout day with one hard-hit ball directly into the dirt.
Overall, the Indians offense was absolutely stifled by one of baseball’s best young pitchers in Jack Flaherty, which is to be expected. It’s not nearly as fun as dumping 14 runs on them like the offense did yesterday, but a win is a win.