James Karinchak needs to write a very nice letter to José Ramírez and maybe send him a gift basket or something.
José The GOAT did everything he could to give the Guardians a series-opening win against the Red Sox, but like he did so many times this season since the league banned sticky substances, James Karinchak simply blew it.
Tonight, Karinchak was given a 3-1 lead and a clean eighth inning to work through, hopefully to set up Emmanuel Clase to come in and slam the door shut on a close, hard-fought victory. He didn’t get a single out, walked the first batter he faced and allowed back-to-back hits culminating in a go-ahead (and ultimately game-winning) home run from Jonathan Arauz.
Karinchak only threw three curveballs tonight — one was bunted, and two missed for balls. His high fastballs were nowhere near the zone. As you should expect by now, his spin rate on everything was down again and he didn’t induce a single swing and miss on 17 pitches. Probably because no one had to swing at anything.
Garrett Richards (wait, he’s on the Red Sox now?) shut down a demoralized Cleveland offense in the bottom half of the frame, then a small rally attempt was quickly ended with back-to-back strikeouts and an Owen Miller groundout to end the game.
When José wasn’t hitting 378-foot bing bongs, he was making stellar plays at third base. I honestly don’t know what else he can do to drag this team kicking and screaming into victories, but he’s trying his hardest. Can he pitch? Let him pitch.
Can we talk about José Ramírez's defense for a sec?— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 27, 2021
+7 Defensive Runs Saved
+7 Outs Above Average
+5.3 Ultimate Zone Rating#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/PZtGAN7nVe
Lost in all of this is Logan Allen actually had a pretty great start. He lasted six innings, struck out five batters, and allowed just one earned run off of one hit. It was arguably the best start of his career if you don’t count the seven-inning shutout he pitched against the Brewers back in 2019. And I don’t, so.
Allen used his typical four-seam/slider combination throughout the night, but his curveball was a secret weapon for him. Twice he used it to open at-bats and it helped him get a couple of called strikes, foul balls, and a key third out with a runner on second in the second inning. He had the benefit of a rather large strike zone, but so did Red Sox pitchers — I see nothing here to complain about considering Eduardo Rodriguez and friends had a similarly spacious area to work with.
Most importantly, was this a turning point for Allen? It’s hard to really tell after one start, even against a good team like the Red Sox. But coming out of a lengthy minor-league stint and dominating like this sure isn’t a bad thing.