If you watched tonight’s game live, you witnessed one of the best decisions on the basepaths and one of the worst decisions on the basepaths happen in the span of roughly an hour.
The best was José Ramírez with the most heads-up play you’ll ever see. Initially caught in a rundown between first and second, he noticed that the Orioles are, in fact, the Orioles and were unable to tag him so he snuck past Freddy Galvis and slid into second base. Then, noticing that the Orioles were, in fact, still the Orioles he saw that there was no one covering third base. He rumbled, stumbled, and bumbled his way there in a footrace with Galvis.
He won, and it was glorious. Words can’t possibly do it justice — just watch.
The worst was Yu Chang attempting to cut off a throw that would have nabbed the runner at home. Technically not a baserunning error, but an error that advanced a baserunner in a bad situation. Chang had no business trying to get that ball — hence why he had to try and Air Jordan himself to get it — and the result was a run.
When José Ramírez wasn’t busy outsmarting his opponents, he was also outslugging them. He started the scoring with his first-inning home run, and almost added another late. It hooked just foul and he lined out to a shifted infielder instead.
The hardest-hit ball of the night belonged to Harold Ramirez when he smoked a ball down the left-field line at 111.9 mph. The ball didn’t even travel 80 feet in the air before it made contact with the infield dirt and bounced all the way to the corner of the outfield wall. That hit scored José after his baserunning brilliance and set Harold himself up to be scored when Eddie Rosario doubled in the next at-bat.
That heart of the order — José, Harold, and Eddie — combined to go 5-for-12 on the night with five of the team’s eight runs scored.
Bobby Bradley struck out twice but also drew a walk. Yu Chang was unable to make up for his poor defense with his bat — he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts and a team-worst -0.10 WPA.
It wasn’t Aaron Civale’s cleanest outing ever on the mound, but he worked through some mistakes, including a pair of walks, to give Terry Francona five innings. Even allowing five earned runs isn’t a big deal for any starter that can eat up half a game at this point. Luckily for Civale, he got enough to run support that it didn’t matter.
Civale worked all seven of his pitches, even busting out the ‘ole slider six times. He wasn’t able to miss bats much with anything, though, finishing with just six swings and misses on 96 pitches. Bryan Shaw, who pitched just one inning and threw 27 pitches, induced seven whiffs.
If Civale was using sticky stuff before, he is apparently spitting in the face of authority as all his spin rates increased anywhere from 17 rpm (cutter) to 125 rpm (splitter) compared to his season averages. These are small enough bumps that it doesn’t indicate anything one way or another, though the break on his splitter and slider weren’t what they usually are. It’s unlikely that he’s laying off Spider Tack or something and it hurt him — I think he just kind of had an off night. It happens.
Shaw, Nick Sandlin, James Karinchak, and Emmanuel Clase all kept the game close, combining to allow one earned run (Shaw) in four combined innings of work. Clase technically hit 100 on the stadium radar gun rounded up, but by Baseball Savant’s measurements, he was in the higher end of 99. Close enough.
Karinchak has now pitched in four of the last five days, while Clase has pitched in three straight and Shaw has pitched in three of the last four. Eventually, these guys are going to need a breather and arms like Blake Parker, the recently promoted Kyle Nelson, and even Sam Hentges are going to have to get some work before the All-Star break.
Cleveland will go for the sweep tomorrow with Eli Morgan on the mound. Morgan, who made his debut in the middle of a hurricane last month, has nothing but clear skies in the schedule for tomorrow.