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 11
Cleveland started the week off right by sweeping the Tigers and giving Logan Allen his first win as a starter in the organization. Franmil Reyes finished with game with two hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games overall. The near future after Sunday wasn’t kind to the big man, but on that day he could celebrate.
Not necessarily Cleveland-related, but the umpires blew yet another big call that decided a game.
LOL at the video cutting out right in time for the slo-mo replay https://t.co/XUr4Od3Wpk— D.J. Short (@djshort) April 12, 2021
Monday, April 12
After Sunday’s sweep, reality set in hard. Cleveland started the work week by losing on a throwing error by first baseman Yu Chang. Chang, who is not a first baseman by trade and has played very little of it in his professional career, hit the baserunner with a throw to second that could have ended the game — or at least let it go on for another at-bat.
After the loss, Chang took to Instagram and Twitter to call out some of the horrific and racist comments he received following the error.
Tuesday, April 13
On Tuesday, the Covering the Corner Podcast featured a special guest spot from Chris Davies and his interview with Luke Epplin, author of “Our Team.”
An early entry for pitching matchup of the year occurred during Game 2 of the White Sox-Cleveland series, as Shane Bieber and Lucas Giolito went toe-to-toe for eight innings. Bieber outlasted his opponent and only narrowly missed throwing a Maddux. He still pitched a complete game shutout (although Cleveland needed extra innings to score a run of their own).
Bieber started the night slow without a single strikeout through three innings. He struck out the side in the fourth and went on a tear the rest of the game, ending with 11 strikeouts in his nine innings pitched. Bieber has double-digit strikeouts in each of his three starts this season, and he has at least eight in 15 consecutive games dating back to Aug. 9 of last year. It’s the longest such streak in Cleveland baseball history.
It was a big night for baseball, and an even bigger night for Pitching Ninja on Twitter.
Lucas Giolito, Fastball and Changeup Overlay (slow) pic.twitter.com/bXvHZhVy1x— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 14, 2021
Wednesday, April 14
On the same day they signed renowned offensive threat René Rivera to a minor-league deal, Cleveland suffered their first no-hitter since 2011. Carlos Rodón handed it to them this time, and it was two outs away from being a perfect game. It probably would have been the 24th perfecto in MLB history if a slider didn’t get away from Rodón and strike Roberto Pérez in the foot. Instead, Cleveland settled for being no-hit for the 12th time they’ve been no-hit in team history.
The game was out of hand by the first inning anyway, as Zach Plesac had the worst outing of his major-league career, allowing six earned runs off seven hits and failing to get out of the first inning. The only other time Plesac has allowed more runs was on June 29, 2019 against the Orioles when he let seven cross the plate. At least then he lasted 3.2 innings. Wednesday’s debacle was also his shortest outing ever, beating (?) his previous record of 2.2 innings set on July 4, 2019 against the Royals.
It was just kind of a rough day all around for the ‘ole baseball team.
Thursday, April 15
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the color barrier in baseball’s National League. Former commissioner Bud Selig made it a league-wide celebration starting in 2004, and ever since all players wear #42 on their jersey on April 15 to honor Jackie’s legacy.
Many players around baseball take this day to share how Jackie’s sacrifice and strength help them in the game of baseball today, including Cleveland pitcher Triston McKenzie.
Triston McKenzie (@T_eazy24) has mentored an 8th grade class through @CLEMetroSchools True2U mentor program and discussed Jackie's legacy in his final class of 2021.— Tribe Inspires (@TribeInspires) April 15, 2021
@nikediamond 42 jerseys were given to the students. pic.twitter.com/nAsK7NLCw4
Cleveland ended the day with a win and a series split with the White Sox. Jake Bauers added to his lowly offensive numbers with a couple of hits, José Ramírez found another home run pitch, and an overall enjoyable series came to an end.
Benches also cleared in this game when Adam Eaton forgot that he was a doofus who controls his own arms. It settled down pretty quickly.
Friday, April 16
On Friday we learned that we’ve been pronouncing Tyler Naquin wrong all this time. He revealed on Bull & Fox that the proper pronunciation is more like “Knockin” and not “Nay-Kwin” as everyone has been saying. It was a fun interview, and he didn’t seem annoyed by it in any way — it was just that he told his new teammate, Joey Votto, about it, Votto brought it up in a post-game press conference, and now the pronunciation is in the public light again. He even said at one point he jokingly asked Tom Hamilton to pronounce it correctly on air to throw everyone for a loop. Hamilton decline.
Before the luster of a great divisional series could start to fade, another blowout happened. This time it came at the hands of the Reds, who jumped on Logan Allen and friends for a final score of 10-3. Even though they lost by seven, Cleveland still had plenty of opportunities to make the game more competitive, but they stranded 10 runners on base and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
The good news, I guess, was that Ben Gamel finally got his first hit of the season, in a late-game pinch-hit opportunity. Surely it marked the beginning of the glorious Ben Gamel era in Cleveland that would one day end in a number of World Series victories, right?
Saturday, April 17
Well, about that. Cleveland optioned Ben Gamel on Saturday to bring up big left-handed reliever Sam Hentges. After the team was rocked and Logan Allen was chased so early on Friday, Cleveland needed some more insurance in the ‘pen. And with the National League rules in effect for at least two more games at the time of the transaction, Franmil Reyes made more sense in right field, which made Ben Gamel expendable.
Cleveland didn’t use Hentges in their game Saturday, and for a while, it didn’t seem like they would need to. It was a tight, one-run game throughout, and Emmanuel Clase was inches from closing out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Unfortunately, after Josh Naylor made the first two outs of the inning cleanly, he misplayed what would have been the final out and allowed Max Schrock to reach second base as the ball bounced under his glove and into the outfield. A rattled Clase threw a couple of bad pitches and the Reds tied it and eventually won in the 10th.
Oh yeah, and the Reds turned a triple play.