A common complaint about the Indians’ offense this season is that hitters never seem to get hot at the same time. The team always relies on one bat to carry it to victory. This afternoon the Indians offered a rare counter-example in their 4-1 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers. José Ramírez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and [checks notes] Jordan Luplow all reached base three times. Sandwiched between them sat Franmil Reyes, who didn’t get a hit or a strikeout in four at-bats but grounded into a productive run-scoring double play.
I know that isn’t really a great thing, but when the bad breaks still managed to drive in a run, you’re having a good afternoon of baseball.
Shane Bieber started the game by striking out seven of the first nine batters that he faced. He outwitted the Brewers to such an extent that Tom Hamilton started teasing a no-hitter toward the end of the third inning by invoking Len Barker. Brewers hitters adjusted, and the result is that Bieber needed 103 pitches to work through five innings. Hitters started to lay off of nearly all his off-speed offerings. These weren’t bad pitches, either. I apologize for the wall of graphics on the way, but it quickly illustrates the adjustment.
Bieber - Balls, Strikes, In Play - Innings 1-3
Bieber - Balls, Strikes, In Play - Innings 4 & 5
This forced Bieber to work back into the count with fastballs. When they began to leak back over the plate the Brewers mashed them into play.
The key moment for Bieber came in the fifth. He gave up his only run of the game when Jacob Nottingham singled home Julio Urias. Ben Gamel singled four pitches later to load the bases with one out. Bieber reached back to strike out Keston Hiura and Christian Yelich to escape the jam and preserve the lead.
The adjustment worked - unfortunately for the Brewers, Shane Bieber can still get guys out when they ignore his best strikeout stuff.
The brightest spot for the Tribe offense today? Carlos Santana. He stroked a double to open scoring for the Indians in the bottom of the first, then added a walk and an RBI single. Jordan Luplow’s afternoon was a nice surprise. He singled twice (both were a bit BABIPY but we’ll take it, right?) and drew a walk. His hardest hit ball of the day went pretty much straight up into the air, but maybe a day of contact like that is what he needs to get his confidence back and start murdering lefties again.
- Both Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez made sensational defensive plays this afternoon:
In addition to the game-ending double play, Lindor ranged behind Ramirez for a slick 6-3 that no one has video of on the tweetbox yet.
- Brett Anderson gave up 10 hard-hit balls as classified by Statcast today. Every Indians starter except for Franmil Reyes logged one on the day. I’m noticing more and more often that the Indians are squaring up opposing pitchers like this. It feels like the offensive doldrums may soon be a thing of the past.
- Shane Bieber tied Bob Feller by striking out at least eight batters in his first nine starts. While he isn’t working deep into games lately, he’s still dominating.