Wild Card round: Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) September 27, 2020
Best-of-three series at Progressive Field
Game 1, Tuesday: Shane Bieber vs. Gerrit Cole
(pending results of White Sox game in which the Cubs are threatening to blow a nine-run lead)
Let the hype begin.
The Cleveland Indians wrapped up a plague-shortened regular season with a wild 8-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes powered the offense into the lead in the sixth and seventh innings, and the Indians bullpen did just enough to stave off the Pirates.
The undisputed hero of today’s game is Santana. In what might be his last regular season game as a Cleveland Indians (sniff), Santana went 3-3 with a dinger, two doubles, and a walk, driving in four and scoring three times. Single-game wRC+ numbers don’t mean anything, but he posted 761 today. That was good enough to move his season total up eleven points to 95. Yes, Santana managed to have close to a league-average season in total offensive production despite hitting .199.
Franmil Reyes provided the rest of the firepower, launching a crucial 3-run home run in the sixth to bring the Indians within one and adding an insurance run in the on a sac fly in the seventh. We’d be remiss to overlook Cesar Hernandez and Jose Ramirez today; they scored both times they each reached base, with Ramirez doing so courtesy of two doubles of his own.
The bullpen game strategy was successful for Cleveland today, even if it didn’t exactly “work”. Cal Quantrill worked through three innings and surrendered a solo home run and another unearned run. Phil Maton took the baton (AHAHAHAHA GOTEM) and pitched a scoreless fourth. That’s when things got dicey. Cam Hill allowed one run and gave up another after a Lindor error in a third of the fifth inning. Oliver Perez cleaned that up, but Nick Wittgren allowed two more in the sixth. Three scoreless innings from James Karinchak, Adam Cimber, and Brad Hand preserved the win, with Hand earning his sixteenth save on the year. He will finish as the league leader in saves for those of you who care about such stats.
Look: I’m still not quite sure what the identity of this team is. Sixty games isn’t quite enough to get a feel for it, but if the last week of baseball is any indication this is a team that isn’t going to quit for any reason. Slumbering bats are stirring. A soon-to-be Cy Young winner leads the rotation and an MVP candidate anchors the lineup.
It will be a wild October, and it feels like this team is finding its mojo at just the right time.
Update: Terry Francona will not return this season
Sandy Alomar Jr. will manage the Indians throughout the postseason.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) September 27, 2020