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Zach Plesac flirts with no-hitter, settles for solid win

Jarred who? Logan what? Tonight, it was all about Zach Plesac showing off his new-look approach to pitching in Cleveland’s 4-2 win over the Mariners

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Plesac may have lost his no-hit bid in the eighth inning tonight, but he managed to overshadow the debut of two of baseball's top prospects for a couple of hours. I think that counts for something. It counts for a win, for sure, but it’s also kind of neat.

Rookie left fielder Jarred Kelenic was held to an 0-for-4 night, thanks in part to Josh Naylor making a heroic sprint and flip over the wall in foul territory to catch his first fly ball. Logan Gilbert, a 24-year-old righty out of Corey Kluber’s own Stetson University, allowed four earned runs off five hits in four innings of work. Both were perfectly fine debuts for two players who have real chances to be stars. As a fan of watching prospects debut, it doesn’t get much better than two in one game, so that was fun.

And as with most Cleveland runs this year, their four tonight mostly came off homers.

Franmil Reyes got this started by teeing off one of the first breaking balls Gilbert threw all night. After working through the top of the order with nothing but heaters, the rookie turned to curveballs for Franmil in the second inning, and it didn’t go well.

An inning later, José Ramírez hit a fastball that was right in his wheelhouse. Right in anybody’s wheelhouse, to be honest — a four-seamer right down the heart of the plate that he turned on and socked to right field.

That was Ramírez’s MLB-leading 11th home run of the season, as the GOAT has quietly slipped back into the way-too-early MVP conversation after a slow stretch of games last week. He’s fully back and should be recognized as such.

But of course, the story of the game tonight was Zach Plesac, who — after being on the losing end of two no-hitters since the start of the season — pitched seven innings of his own no-hitter tonight.

Just as Chris D. Davies pointed out in his article yesterday, Plesac held batters at bay effectively and efficiently with fewer fastballs and a heavy dose of his mirrored slider and changeup. Twelve of Plesac’s outs came via ground outs, and the average exit velocities on his slider and changeup were 87.4 mph and 85.7 mph, respectively.

Plesac lost the no-hit bid with a ball that sailed just inches above a leaping Amed Rosario. He was clearly rattled afterward and gave up a two-run homer following the hit, but it shouldn’t ruin an otherwise great outing for Plesac, who has bounced back nicely from his nightmare game against Chicago on Apri 14 (and the other nightmare game against Chicago on April 20 ... ) with three straight outings of at least 5.2 innings and two or fewer runs.

To close out tonight’s game, Terry Francona made the odd decision to turn to Emmanuel Clase for the third day in a row, despite warming up Bryan Shaw in the half-inning prior, and presumably having other relievers alive back there somewhere.

After getting through the first two batters on three pitches, Clase fell apart at the seams. He walked Kyle Lewis on five pitches, only one of which was particularly close and it was a 2-0 get-me-over fastball out of desperation. Ty France and J.P. Crawford were the same stories — 10 more pitches thrown, not a single one in the zone. He did get France to swing twice, but he eventually walked. Once Crawford got on base on four straight pitches to load the bases, Francona made the call ... to who else, but Bryan Shaw.

Shaw, released by the Mariners right before spring training, got revenge on his own team by showing off his new and seemingly improved cutter that he used to paint a beautiful picture of destruction on the outside edge of Luis Torrens’ strikezone.

Baseball Savant

The black dot was his only blemish in the at-bat, and Austin Hedges made a great stop on it to prevent any damage being done. Shaw came back to strike Torrens out on a 1-2 swinging strike to end the game.

I’m sure I missed something somewhere, but I can feel the last bit of that extremely healthy 11 p.m. iced coffee slipping away and I think I covered most of it. To those brave souls who stayed up until 1 a.m. on a Thursday to watch and read this recap: I salute you. To those waking up the morning after thinking a 4-0 lead was safe and nothing near-historic would happen: hopefully, this covered the gist of it.

It was a fun one, and I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.

Corner Pieces

  • Once J.P. Crawford slapped a hit inches over Amed Rosario’s glove, it meant that Len Barker’s perfect game would stand as the last no-hitter in Cleveland history. There have been 14 no-hitters in club history, but none since Barker’s perfecto in 1981.
  • Unless one happened that I am forgetting, Plesac was also on track to have Cleveland’s first Maddux since 2018, until Dylan Moore hit a two-run homer in the eighth.

Wait, what?

It’s a good thing Reyes and Ramírez homered when they did. From the fourth inning on, Cleveland had just two baserunners. Harold Ramirez reached on a dropped third strike in the fourth and Cesar Hernandez singled in the eighth.

What’s next

The gauntlet of late starts continues tomorrow with another 10 p.m. game with Aaron Civale on the mound for Cleveland.