Bobby Bradley’s Recap
He is back.
Bradley socked three hits — including a double and a home run — while driving in three and scoring twice. He formed the foundation of a helpful stack of hitters for Cleveland today. Josh Naylor doubled, drove in one, and turned in two outfield assists. Yu Chang got a hit, and if he made an appalling error it was relatively minor compared to all of the other ones I’m still thinking about. That is the bar for success today. Welcome, Mr. Chang. You want to be above the fold this time, for sure.
Almost Everyone Else’s Recap
I have spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the roster decisions in Cleveland this season. We are all aware that defense is not a priority for the team right now, and so I’m not going to bother with justifying that claim here. It might not even be a concern to Cleveland, and so it has to be intentional. If there is an experiment in the works I think it’s probably over after today.
Here is what I think the plan might have sounded like:
Elite pitchers and elite catchers lead to fewer balls in play; maybe it doesn’t matter as much if the players who see the fewest chances aren’t very good defenders. You should not put Manny Ramirez at shortstop, but maybe letting a subpar fielder roam center isn’t so bad in the era of the Three True Outcomes. Let’s put a pin in that for now.
You can see where this is an appealing idea. Loyola Marymount once out-rebounded and out-ran everyone in college basketball, and so it didn’t matter that they couldn’t play defense. Maybe the Indians could put together a team of undervalued misfit sluggers, give them long enough to figure out their swings, and then outslug everyone while keeping the bases relatively clear.
Another thing that is relatively clear — there is a massive vulnerability to this scheme. Sometimes you simply cannot afford to make a defensive mistake because it ends the game. You tell me when you turned off the TV today. Was it when a subpar fielder made a miserable read on a routine fly ball to center field? Or was it when the pitcher, visibly frustrated, could not throw a strike from ten feet?
The impact on morale is devastating, and that messes with everything. How different is the outcome today if Cedric Mullins can’t come up with his diving two-out catch? That might be 7-3, and now a blowout is a ballgame again.
Mullins caught it, though. I’m not even sure if Harold Ramirez tried.
It isn’t sustainable, and I’m not sure it’s fair to the players at a certain point either. After all, pitchers have a bad day sometimes, too. Like today. Cleveland pitchers combined to allow 21 hits. According to the style guide, I cannot type “twenty-one”.
A style guide thinks they were terrible enough to dictate extra emphasis today. I’m leaving it there. They will play again tomorrow and they have some room for improvement.
Trey Mancini’s Recap
He went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and still scored twice. Baseball.