Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Cleveland Indians offense looked great in a game in 2020.
Since you clearly haven’t stopped me, allow me to elaborate. The Cleveland Indians offense looked outstanding tonight and have hopefully exorcised some demons in their 13-0 thumping of the Reds.
Everyone in the lineup at least got on base. Carlos Santana walked four times and even Oscar Mercado, who struck out four times, managed a hit off position-player-pitching Matt Davidson in the eighth.
The bulk of the Tribe’s damage came in the bottom of the seventh when Reds manager David Bell decided that, actually, he hates José De León. The former top Dodgers prospect and current Reds reliever allowed the first seven batters to reach base one way or another before he finally struck out Mercado with the bases loaded. At this point no one was warming in the pen and he was clearly being left out to soak up the damage. He then walked in two runs before Bell mercifully ended his night.
His replacement immediately allowed a bases-clearing double and a two-run homer by José Ramírez, — his second of the game.
For the first time all season, the offense was clicking and — most importantly — not pressing. Most of tonight’s runs came without homers, and even one of those came as the icing on the cake when they were already up by 11. Part of that is BABIP luck, but a lot of it is just having a good approach. If constantly swinging for the fences is working and you can slug your way to double digits every night, go for it. But when it’s clearly not, switching it up like this may just be the best option.
You are only going to be able to do so much against Luis Castillo’s change-up, but the Indians did manage to put it into play five times and they only whiffed six times against it. For once they were not just sitting fastball and trying to hit everything 700 feet — instead, they were happy to hit line drives over infielders and get whatever solid contact they could find. The result was their highest scoring output since they dropped 19 on the Yankees last August.
Everyone had a good night offensively, but this was clearly the José Ramírez game — two of his hits were homers (one of which went 416 feet) and he finished the night with four of the Indians’ 13 runs batted in. Every one of his balls put into play were hit at least 84.2 mph, and the lightest contact resulted in a bases-clearing Triple. By my quick eye-balling of José’s game logs, this is the first time he’s ever had at least 11 total bases in a game since he had 14 (two home runs, three doubles) against the Tigers in September 2017.
It was also a fantastic outing for the pitching staff, who have now shut the Reds out for the second straight night. Carlos Carrasco worked his slider for eight swings and misses and finished the night with eight strikeouts over 6.0 innings. Cam Hill was called in to pitch when the Indians only had a 3-0 lead and struck out two of the three batters he faced. After that, it was garbage time for Phil Maton and Adam Plutko. Both of them held the Reds scoreless over the final two innings.