Welcome to the Corner Chronicles — a weekly dive into what happened this week in Cleveland baseball, from the deep dingers to the decisions that shape the team.
Sunday, April 4
Cleveland bats finally woke up on the last day of the series against Detroit to avoid the most embarrassing sweep of all time. Four homers propelled them that day, including an absolute moonshot from Franmil Reyes and even one from ... checks notes ... Austin Hedges?!
pic.twitter.com/jZS3HNfZVf— MLB Updates (@MLBNews1234) April 4, 2021
Austin Hedges hits a solo shot (1) to give the Indians a 9-3 lead.
Emmanuel Clase also threw multiple 100-mph pitches — even cutters!
He owns 104 of the fastest 124 regular season cutters on record. https://t.co/aQL1uEcqqg— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) April 4, 2021
I would say one or two more innings like that and Cleveland has already won the Corey Kluber trade. Delino DeShields was a complete bust in Cleveland, but Corey Kluber didn’t even finish an inning for the Rangers, the first sign that Clase can be something great is all we’ll need to call it.
Monday, April 5
Welcome home, boys and girls. Cleveland played their first game in front of a home crowd for the first time in over a year, and it felt damn good to hear real crowd sounds — even the woo’ers.
Longtime Progressive Field drummer John Adams is having health issues and won’t be able to drum this season, so Black Keys drummer John Carney stepped in to bring the beat during the home opener.
And after all that ... Cleveland was shut out.
Tuesday, April 6
On the Covering the Corner Podcast, Merrit and I discussed Shane Bieber making Opening Day history and absurdity of Emmanuel Clase pumping 101+ mph cutters every outing, among other things.
Cleveland had a built-in of-day on Tuesday just in case weather pushed back their home opener. It did not, so what better day to sit back, relax, and read a book about the 1948 World Series champions?
Tyler Naquin continued to impress with his new Ohio home, slugging another homer for the Reds as he slowly transforms into Barry Bonds. He is now up to five, but curiously all on low pitches.
Wednesday, April 7
Have you heard the news? José Ramírez is incredible. On Wednesday, the GOAT put the then-struggling offense on his back and slugged two home runs to drive in the team’s only four runs and it led to a victory against the Royals.
Cleveland also announced their PlayBall! CLE initiative to “improve the quality of the youth baseball and softball experience” in the Greater Cleveland area. Eight leagues were selected for the program’s pilot season in 2021 and applications for 2022 will be accepted starting in the fall.
Thursday, April 8
Another off-day, because baseball is weird. This was essentially a travel day for Detroit, but it meant Cleveland had to sit again, for their second time in three days.
Zack Meisel at the Athletic published a touching story about Logan Allen and his special connection with his brother. It’s behind a paywall, but more than worth the price of admission — if you didn’t already love Allen, you will after this.
It was a quiet day for Cleveland, but a wild day around baseball. With the bases loaded in the bottom of a tie game in the ninth, Michael Conforto reached his elbow out and was struck by a pitch in the strike zone. It should have been an easy strike call, but instead the umpires called it a hit-by-pitch and the winning run walked in. Even the Mets announcers didn’t like it, and Conforto after the game said maybe he’d use his bat instead next time.
MICHAEL CONFORTO GETS HIT BY A PITCH AND THE METS WIN IT 3-2!!!!! pic.twitter.com/R1QdgiRQJ5— SNY (@SNYtv) April 8, 2021
Also, Mike Trout hit a baseball at an elementary school.
Friday, April 9
As Cleveland began their second series against the Tigers, the offense suddenly woke up. Franmil Reyes started things off with a two-homer game, and carried the offense just like his slightly shorter teammate two days earlier. Zach Plesac had a great outing, and the Tigers had to bring an emergency starter when Julio Teheran was hurt in his pre-game routine. Lefty Derek Holland started the game, and with no changes to Cleveland’s lineup Jake Bauers was left in to face him. It didn’t go well, but at least Cleveland won.
Amed Rosario also made his first-career start in centerfield and didn’t look half bad. He made a bad read on the first ball hit to him, but he caught it anyway thanks to a good route and his raw athleticism.
Over on the Covering the Corner Prospect Podcast — now officially named Around the Corner — Matt Schlichting and Brian Hemminger tracked how some former Cleveland prospects on doing on new teams and the implications of Cleveland’s recently announced 60-man and taxi-squads.
Saturday, April 10
Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. We got some offense Saturday. Franmil Reyes homered again, but it was like the fifth or sixth most exciting thing about Saturday’s game. Roberto Pérez slugged another homer and walked three times (something has hasn’t done in half a decade), while Jordan Luplow homered once, and almost hit another off a right-handed pitcher.
Luplow’s second home run was robbed by the umpires not knowing how home runs work (even after a video review!), but it was still a double against a righty and knocked in a run. Cleveland ultimately won, 11-3, so it was hardly a deciding factor and they didn’t protest too much. Things would have been different if the game was close, according to Terry Francona.
Terry Francona on Luplow's double/HR call: "I told [the home plate umpire] if the game would have been closer, they might have had a first where somebody in New York would've had to throw me out."— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) April 11, 2021
Aaron Civale also had another solid outing, with his curveball showing some significant bite and his control as good as it’s ever been.
Cleveland goes for their first sweep of the season on Sunday.