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Bullpen holds while Naylor delivers to dodge sweep in Pittsburgh

Of particular note is James Karinchak’s pilum throw

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on whom you ask, Sam Hentges is either a promising young left-handed starter or a blighted potato. He looked like a stud today, S-T-U-D, to be clear. In five shutout innings, he struck out four, walked one, and surrendered two hits.

When asked about Hentges in the post-game interview, manager Terry Francona said, “He is not a potato.”

Sorry about that, hang on.... okay, got it: “We went into the game thinking 50-55 pitches was probably a lot to ask, or the most we would ask. He actually stayed right around that mark, maybe a touch more, but he did it in five innings which I thought was incredible.”

Given Francona’s praise for today’s performance I wonder if we might see a few more “five-and-four” games from Cleveland. This was not the first time we watched a starter toss five solid innings and then hand it over to the bullpen to finish the job. And they did, once again, an inning at a time.

It is not a mistake to lean on the strongest unit of your team. It will be interesting to see how Francona continues to manage workloads.

The only hitters that mattered today stacked themselves in the middle of the order. Harold Ramirez homered in the fifth inning; Josh Naylor singled home Eddie Rosario in the seventh inning to deliver the winning run.

Corner Pieces

  • Phil Maton allowed the tying run in the sixth inning. As Gage Will pointed out it isn’t as if he blew it. When you allow nothing but grounders you are usually rewarded. Not today.
  • Ernie Clement bent down and handed the bat boy the bat during the game. It was probably easier for the bat boy to grab it, but no, Ernie was there, and so he helped. He proceeded to blast a liner to right that nearly flew above an outstretched glove. Nearly.
  • The shift allowed runners to advance to first and third in the eighth inning. Can’t throw to a base when nobody’s there. I learned that in little league. Eventually.
  • I do enjoy a good interleague box score, don’t you?

Wait, What?

Cleveland floats in an odd tier with the Mariners, Yankees, and Angels right now in the American League. They would not make the playoffs if they started today, but they are only three games back in the division and closer in the Wild Card. We’re getting close to that tipping point in the season where what you have already done begins to matter; a team that starts and stays hot through June builds up a lot of inertia going into the second half.

Then again, teams that go on wild winning streaks after the break have also done well. We shall see.

What’s Next?

The Cubs. I think I’m over 2016, finally.