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 18
This week started and ended with Shane Bieber being brilliant, but he only won one of those games. His victory came last Sunday when he struck out 13 Reds batters in eight innings, becoming the first pitcher to reach at least 10 strikeouts in his first four starts of a season since the mound was moved back in 1893.
The movement to let Luplow start hitting against pitchers regardless of their handedness was in full effect at this point, especially after he hit this bomb off a righty, his second (shoulda been his third, just saying) of the season.
That was one of three Cleveland homers on the day, alongside Roberto Pérez and José Ramírez.
Cleveland lost the first leg of the Ohio cup, however, and they’ll need to sweep their next series against the Reds in May to claim it or win two of three to break the trophy in half and share it. At least, that’s how I assume it works.
On Sunday, Jay Bruce announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. Bruce’s stint with Cleveland was short — just 30 games to end 2017 — but he provided one of the most magical moments of that season, and frankly, Cleveland baseball history.
.@Indians fans - Win No.22 of the 22 game win streak in 2017, authored by the great Jay Bruce— Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty) April 19, 2021
Mile high salute, JB.. watching this moment live & reliving it again & again, never gets old.
Enjoy retirement - you’re welcome to visit on #IndiansLive any time! pic.twitter.com/hnjIXLorsv
Bruce’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning extended Cleveland’s historic winning streak to 22 games, the longest in American League history. They felt short of the Giants’ MLB-record 26 wins with a loss to the Royals the next game, but Bruce’s moment lives on in the minds of Cleveland fans forever.
Monday, April 19
A rare day of good COVID news on Monday, as Cleveland first announced that Progressive Field would allow 40% capacity by May, and Cleveland.com reported that the team was trending towards 85% vaccination. Once they hit that mark, they will have relaxed protocols and also, you know, be protected from a deadly virus.
Cleveland enjoyed an off-day Monday as the threat of Carlos Rodón loomed on the horizon.
Tuesday, April 20
It wasn’t a no-hitter, at least, but once again Cleveland couldn’t outhit the White Sox in their series opener. This would end up being the only game of the series as Game 2 was snowed out, mere days after Ohio enjoyed 60-degree weather.
Jordan Luplow had a hit (another homer off a righty!) and three walks, but Zach Plesac gave up six runs, and a lack of clutch hitting doomed the offense yet again. They finished 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position but stranded 13 baserunners.
After making his major-league debut over the weekend, Sam Hentges struck out his first-career batter with a breaking ball in the dirt that Adam Eaton couldn’t lay off of. You love to see it.
Overall, Thursday’s game was a mess. At one point Josh Naylor lost track of a ball and blew through his third-base coach’s plea to stay at third.
We also learned during the game that Adam Eaton was going to be suspended for shoving Andrés Giménez in the game last week. He appealed and was allowed to play on Tuesday.
Wednesday, April 21
Thursday, April 22
The four-game series against the Yankees got off to a bad start, and it only got worse from there. Cleveland ran up a 3-0 score in the first inning off of Yankees defensive blunders, but gave it back immediately and ultimately lost, 6-3.
Franmil Reyes even had a triple, the first of his career, and the effort went to waste as his teammates couldn’t get him home.
BIG MAN ON THE MOVE ♂️— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 22, 2021
First career triple for Franmil Reyes. pic.twitter.com/BG1iUyOIWi
That’s just one of those things that feels like a curse if you don’t cash in on it.
Cleveland also announced their May promotional dates, which include the standard magnet schedules, Dollar Dog Nights, Kids Fun Days, cheap tumblers, and more.
Friday, April 23
I think it was around this time that Jake Bauers’s mom blocked me on Twitter and I’m still not sure why.
In other news, Cleveland lost again after blowing another early 3-0 lead to the Yankees. At least this time they earned the runs off of some solid hits before the pitching faltered. Logan Allen looked rattled from the start and only lasted 2.1 innings. He gave up four runs with one strikeout and one walk before being pulled.
This Yankees series also marked the first time Corey Kluber was in Cleveland as a member of another active roster. He didn’t pitch, but it didn’t stop the flood of articles about his time spent as Cleveland’s ace. Mandy Bell at MLB.com had one on Kluber’s impact in Cleveland, and Zack Meisel penned one about Shane Bieber carrying on Kluber’s legacy for The Athletic.
Saturday, April 24
It’s only been a little over three weeks since the season started, but this is already Shane Bieber’s second HUGE MEGA PITCHING MATCHUP OF THE CENTURY. Like his bout with Lucas Giolito earlier in the month, he didn’t disappoint facing Yankees ace, Gerrit Cole.
Bieber threw a career-high 119 pitches on Saturday, allowing three earned runs and striking out nine over his seven innings of work. He seemed to appreciate being able to go so deep into the game.
"That's where you want to rise to the occasion."— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 25, 2021
Shane Bieber appreciates that Terry Francona and Carl Willis gave him an opportunity to finish the seventh inning despite his high pitch count.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/w8tqEllQ29
Bieber also continued his historic streak of consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts, though he failed to reach double-digit strikeouts for the first time this season.
Saturday’s loss was another in a string of heartbreakers, but at least it blessed us with this GIF.