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Large man wrestles Tigers with bare hands

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Eventually Cleveland will have to find a way to score with more than one batter every night, but for now it’s working

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Did you guys see Eddie Rosario tonight? One hit, and a run batted in! That’s clutch. OK, Franmil Reyes contributed a little too, with two mammoth home runs and a single that singed the air as it flew.

Combined with Zach Plesac going seven strong innings with the most Zach Plesac line imaginable (7.0 IP, 0 BB, 6 SO, 3 H, 0 ER), the bullpen coming through in the final two innings, and Franmil Reyes exploding, Cleveland started off their series against the Tigers with a 4-1 win tonight.

Yes, even with Zach Plesac’s stellar outing, tonight was the Franmil Reyes show. For the second game in a row, a Cleveland batter carried the offense with a pair of home runs as Franmil followed in the footsteps of José Ramírez’s two-homer night on Wednesday.

Franmil’s were both obliterated at 103.3 and 111.5 mph (both, shockingly, with 100% expected batting averages), but it was his third-inning single, with its minus-two-degree launch angle, that was his hardest-hit ball of the night at 112.2 mph.

You could say that he was seeing the ball well, no matter which pitcher Detroit tried to pit against him. Michael Fulmer gave up one of the home runs, but he also managed to induce Franmil’s only out of the game — a 98.3 mph flyout. He saw a heavy dose of sliders down and away, but it was two fastballs up that he turned into souvenirs.

Here’s the first off Derek Holland, who had to make an emergency start when Julio Teheran was scratched at the last minute.

And here’s the dagger in the sixth that gave the bullpen enough cushion to bring in Bryan Shaw and Emmanuel Clase to lock it down.

Lost in all of this dingerosity is that Amed Rosario made his first-career start in centerfield and looked ... OK? He badly read the first ball hit to him in the first inning, but made up for it with a good route and enough speed to make up for jumping in when the ball was hit to the warning track. He was all smiles in the field after making the catch, and came back in the bottom half of the first to record a hit. He eventually scored on Eddie (not related) Rosario’s single three batters later.

The lineup looks a whole lot better if Rosario can play center against righties (presumably with Jordan Luplow playing against lefties), and Andres Gimenez gets to play every day at shortstop. Regardless of how well he hits, Gimenez already looks like a stud defensively, including a smooth double play in the third inning tonight.

Speaking of lineup construction, Jake Bauers started tonight and it was ugly. To be fair, the goal has seemed to be to platoon him against righties only, and a lefty had to jump in at the last second. Whether Terry Francona didn’t have enough time to change the lineup, or it just made sense not to switch things around and mess with everyone’s routines, Bauers was left in and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and one decently hit — but not technically hard-hit — ball straight to the first baseman.

There didn’t really seem to be a specific gameplan in mind against Bauers, just kind of throw him whatever junk you can and put a changeup down and away and hope for the best. And, unfortunately, it worked.

It didn’t matter tonight, though, because Franmil Reyes appears to be very back, and no amount of finangling with a batting order or platooning will have as big of an impact as Reyes being able to consistently deliver the kind of power he showed tonight. If the big man is truly on track to being the power hitter he has the potential to be — look out.

Corner Pieces

  • Emmanuel Clase closed out the game and had the 12 hardest thrown balls of the game, including 11 over 100 mph. All cutters, all but two were strikes or outs.
  • José Ramírez “cooled off” with “only” two hits, including a ground ball that ricocheted off second base and landed in the outfield. That was fun.
  • While he had a good outing overall (even with allowing a home run), I’m still mildly concerned that Bryan Shaw only mostly threw cutters. He threw one slider, it got demolished, then he never went back to it.
  • Franmil Reyes’ second home run went 446 feet to almost dead center, which seemed like an impossible feat of Giant Man Strength ... until two innings later when Tigers catcher Wilson Ramos hit one 443 feet off of Shaw. Still super impressive, either way. Before any other of tonight’s home runs are added to the leaderboard, those homers have them at the fifth and sixth longest of the season, respectively.

Wait, what?

Julio Teheran was originally scheduled to start tonight’s game, but felt tightness in his triceps during his pre-game throw progression and had to be removed. Lefty reliever Derek Holland started instead and the Tigers went with an impromptu bullpen game. It was weird.

What’s next?

Cleveland will face Detroit tomorrow night at 6:10 p.m. on Bally Sports Great Lakes. Aaron Civale will take the mound against lefty Tarik Skubal.