Here are 16 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday.
1. For the second straight night, an Indians pitcher went the distance and gave up three hits. This time it was Trevor Bauer, who also struck out 10.
2. It was the second career complete game and his sixth straight quality start, the longest streak of his career. He’s also tossed at least seven innings in five straight starts, which is also the longest stretch of his career.
3. Indians manager Terry Francona has often referred to “consistency” as one of more important words in baseball. Finally, for a stretch, Bauer is showing it and providing the Indians a fifth strong starting option, joining the rest of the rotation and proving as much depth as any in the American League. He’s been sharp each time out, which offers the starting rotation a strong compliment to Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin.
4. The main reason behind this stretch of quality starts and better performances? Bauer has simplified things. Instead of trying to throw all seven or so pitches to each hitter, he’s put more of a focus on his fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, and allowed the movement on those pitches to do the work instead of Bauer trying to out-think every hitter from a technical standpoint.
5. Francona and Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway each used the word “conventional” to describe the change.
6. Said Francona, “Obviously really good. He’s been so consistent. If I say this, I know Trevor will probably be mad at me, but he’s pitching almost more conventional. I mean that as a big compliment. It seems like he’s starting to command his fastball, throw a really good breaking ball, and a change up. I know he mixes in the other pitches. But he walked one tonight. That’s the one run that scored. He’s pounding the strike zone with really good stuff, changing speeds, it’s been really fun to watch.”
7. Said Callaway, “He's turned into more of a conventional pitcher, from what I see. He's simplified his mix. He's throwing 20-25 pitch bullpens. He's staying locked in and not overdoing it. He's doing a very good job of attacking the zone with both sides of the plate and multiple pitches and leading with his curveball when he needs to. He's throwing fastballs down and away when he needs to and becoming more of a conventional guy.”
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8. It also can’t be understated the positive effect that catcher Chris Gimenez has had. Gimenez has been Bauer’s personal catcher since the Indians acquired him, and Bauer has since taken off.
9. The Indians have looked to Bauer trusting more conventional practices for a while. Gimenez used to catch the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish, who has a similarly extensive repertoire. And Bauer has pretty much had to learn the hard way through trial and error. Those four have contributed to Bauer finally following the lead and finding success, in conjunction with his own progression.
10. The potential has been there for several years. Bauer has his own way of looking at things, which isn’t necessarily a negative, but things just weren’t clicking. With Gimenez, Bauer has been a force.
11. When asked what Gimenez did to get Bauer to change his style, he jokingly said, “Punched him right in the face.”
12. Said Gimenez, “If you’e buying into something and trying it and it’s not working, it’s very easy to just throw it in the garbage and keep doing what you’re doing or going about it the way you want to do it. I think the fact he is getting some pretty positive results out of it is big for his mental part of it. And I think too, just knowing that he can show the coaching staff that he is able to go deep into ball games, I think that’s something that’s eluded him in the past. He’s walked a lot of guys and he’s thrown a lot of unnecessary pitches trying to get a strikeout as opposed to just getting a guy to ground out on three pitches. I think we still had 10 strikeouts tonight. And he’s able to throw nine innings. It is possible for him to do that. He just needs to establish the strike zone and then work off of it that way and let his stuff play.”
13. Bauer is fortunate to have had Francona and Callaway all this time. The Indians have been fortunate to have Bauer and his potential. Adding Gimenez may end up being the final component that completes the picture. A six-start stretch doesn’t mean long-term future success. But Bauer right now looks like the pitcher so many around the game had envisioned. The Indians have been pushing him for a long time. Now Bauer is giving the rotation a lift.
14. His development, which seems to again be taking a step forward, only strengthens an already-deep Indians rotation.
15. The Indians have now won six straight games, trying their longest streak of the season, and 11 straight at home. With a road trip coming up, the Indians will finish June a perfect 11-0 at home, the first time in franchise history they went undefeated at home in a month in which they played at least 10 games. In that 11-game home winning streak, they’ve out-scored opponents 66-21.
16. Indians pitchers have held Rays hitters to a .144 average this season. Per Elias, it’s the lowest average by an AL team against another in MLB history. The Rays will be happy to get out of Cleveland.
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An estimated 1.3 million people made it into Cleveland on Wednesday. It’s possible none want to leave the city as much as the Tampa Bay Rays’ hitters.
Trevor Bauer kept them guessing all night and tossed a complete game in the Indians’ 6-1 win against the Rays Wednesday. It followed Corey Kluber’s complete-game shutout in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory.
Bauer allowed one run on just three hits—the same number of hits allowed in Kluber’s start—and struck out 10. It was his second career complete game and his sixth straight quality start, the longest stretch of his career.
Indians (41-30) manager Terry Francona has often referred to “consistency” as one of more important words in baseball. Finally, for a stretch, Bauer is showing it and providing the Indians a fifth strong starting option, joining the rest of the rotation and proving as much depth as any in the American League.
Bauer (5-2, 3.20 ERA) was able to pitch with the lead nearly all night. In the bottom of the first, the Indians knocked around Chris Archer (4-10, 4.70 ERA), the Rays’ ace who has struggled to limit the big inning early on. Wednesday night was a similar story. Carlos Santana opened with a walk and Jason Kipnis drove a two-run home run over the center-field wall, putting the Indians up 2-0 two batters into the game. Francisco Lindor also drew a walk, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Jose Ramirez’s single, making it a three-run first inning.
In the fourth, Lonnie Chisenhall continued his solid month with a double and then scored on a double off the bat of Santana that just got by a diving Taylor Motter in right field.
The Rays (32-38) finally got to Bauer in the seventh, though it could have been more if not for Lindor.
Brad Miller walked and Logan Morrison doubled to put two runners in scoring position, the first time any Rays runner made it to second base. With two outs, Corey Dickerson lined a ball headed to left field, but Lindor made a horizontal, diving play to field it to first save a run. He then got up, surveyed the field and threw behind Morrison at third base, who had taken too big a turn expecting it to get through the infield. Uribe applied the tag to end the inning and hold the Rays at just one run.
Santana added an RBI-single in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Tyler Naquin, who singled. Lindor then brought home Santana with a sacrifice fly to left field, pushing the Indians’ lead to 6-1.
It was the Indians’ sixth straight win, trying their season high, and the 11th straight win at home.
Here are 17 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night.
1. Corey Kluber this season hasn’t had the same consistency he had when he won the 2014 AL Cy Young. But when he’s on, like Tuesday night, he reminds teams of how dominant he can be. On Tuesday night, he was about as good as they come.
2. Kluber tossed a three-hit complete-game shutout against the Rays, striking out nine. A runner didn’t advance into scoring position until the ninth inning. It was the 10th complete game and third complete-game shutout of his career. No AL pitcher has more complete games (10) since the start of the 2014 season than Kluber.
3. Like his nature, Kluber takes on outings like these in a methodical fashion, one inning at a time. Said Kluber, “I try to take it step-by-step, inning-by-inning, each inning try to go out there put up a zero. Hopefully at the end of the game, that pieces together to be a good start for the team. But I’m not trying to keep momentum from inning-to-inning, it’s just trying, each time out there, to not let them score.”
4. The Rays were aggressive Tuesday night, which played into Kluber being able to keep his pitch-count down and go the distance. Indians manager Terry Francona felt Kluber was fighting his control for the first three innings and then settled in. If Kluber was fighting his command, he still struck out four and allowed one hit in those three innings. “Then” he got into a rhythm, which is a pretty good picture for how the Rays couldn’t do much against him.
5. Francona didn’t think twice about sending him out for the ninth, saying, “No, not as long as he’s OK. We talked about pitch count lots of times. Sometimes it can be harder on a pitcher that’s laboring regardless of the pitch count. I think Kluber stayed in his delivery just fine.”
6. Jason Kipnis—sort of—had the most exciting play in baseball. With Yan Gomes on second, Kipnis lined a ball into center field. It took a weird hop and ricocheted off the glove of Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings and over his head, rolling all the way to the wall. It allowed Kipnis to go all the way around the bases for a de-facto inside the park home run, though in the scorebook it’s a single with a three-base error.
7. Besides a walk-off home run or the last out of the game, there aren’t many occurrences in which the crowd gets louder than when a hitter rounds third like that.
8. Said Kipnis, “Start running. Turn it up a notch. You’re already thinking about taking a wide turn for maybe drawing the throw, just to make sure the run scores. But once it got by him, you know you’re getting to third easy, and from that point, you’re just picking up the third base coach to see if you’re stopping or going.”
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9. The last time Kipnis tried it, it didn’t go as well. Said Kipnis, “In Arizona. Someone put a piano on my back rounding third and Didi Gregorious threw me out by like 20 yards. I do remember that.”
10. “That’s when I wore a younger man’s shoes. I was trying to end the game. I was trying to play hero, trying to get out of there. This one was just fun. We already got the run in, the job was done, and I’m convinced that took a really bad hop and that’s a home run, that’s not an error. I’m hoping we send in a protest and get it changed. … It took a hell of a hop. It’s one of ones, it’s a fun thing, you’d love to have it, if not, oh well.”
11. Juan Uribe got hit a very sensitive region, missed time, came back and has now hit four home runs in four games. And that doesn’t include his off-the-wall double that missed being a home run by a few feet and nearly ended Sunday’s game. Since returning, he’s hitting everything hard.
12. Said Kipnis on Uribe, “There’s a sweet shot of him checking if it’s fair or foul with the umpire, that’s awesome. This is what he brings to you. He can get hot with the best of them sometimes. He’s a leader in the clubhouse, good defense, and he can change some games with the swing of a bat. And he’s been doing it the past four games. Just as long as he’s putting up consistent at-bats, you don’t care if he’s hitting .230 or not, because he can do that.”
13. Uribe’s home run came after Jose Ramirez hit a two-run shot. Kipnis joked it was the first back-to-back father-son home runs since the Griffeys.
14. Uribe’s home run was crushed, but it was down the left-field line. He used some body English to keep it fair.
All of Cleveland coming together tomorrow like:
(The usual h/t to our awesome photographers!) pic.twitter.com/VV8Nm8MtDn
15. Uribe really is one of the gems in the league. He’s known as one of the best clubhouse guys in the game. He’s 37. He shows up, he hits a home run, he leaves the clubhouse with a cigar in his mouth. There aren’t many like him.
16. The Indians have now won five in a row and 10 straight at home, improving their record to 40-30. It might be thanks to Jobu. Kipnis and Mike Napoli have a shrine to Jobu in-between their lockers that includes two small figurines and three bottles of travel-sized rum. For now, it’s Bacardi, and the Indians are on a winning streak.
17. Said Kipnis, “We’ve had that there for a little bit, but it’s been working. He didn’t like the first airport vodkas we left him, so we tried Bacardi, and Bacardi seems to be working better. We’ll see. Right now it’s working. We’re not going to mess with what works. … Rum is what he likes best.”
Corey Kluber has been plagued by low run support the last few years. Sometimes, he doesn’t need much, and it isn’t an issue.
Like on Tuesday night, when Kluber was again in his 2014 Cy Young form and led the Indians to a 6-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was the Indians’ fifth straight win, one short of their longest winning streak of the season, and the 10th straight win at home.
Kluber had little trouble with the Rays, throwing a three-hit shutout. He walked two and struck out nine. The lone hit came in the second inning, when Corey Dickerson singled to right field. No Rays player ever made it into scoring position until the ninth inning.
For Kluber, it was his 10th career complete game and third career complete-game shutout. He tossed his second complete-game shutout earlier this season against Detroit.
Offensively, the Indians capitalized on a few Rays mistakes.
Still scoreless in the bottom of the third, Yan Gomes singled off Rays starter Blake Snell and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Naquin. Jason Kipnis lined a single into center field, which took a high hop and bounced off Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings’ glove and over his head. The ball rolled all the way to wall, allowing Kipnis to take the turn at third and head home for a de-facto inside the park home run, though it was a single and a three-base error in the box score.
In the sixth, the Indians added a third run of insurance for Kluber. Jose Ramirez singled and Juan Uribe reached on an error, putting Ramirez in scoring position. Lonnie Chisenhall sent a single back up the middle, scoring Ramirez and putting the Indians up 3-0.
In the bottom of the eighth, facing Rays reliever Steve Geltz, the Indians tacked on with the long ball. First, Jose Ramirez lined a two-run home run to right field, his fourth of the season.
Juan Uribe followed with a solo shot to the Home Run Porch, his fourth home run in as many games. With it, Uribe became the first Indians player to homer in four straight games since Kipnis did it in July-August of 2011.
The wait for a Cleveland title is finished. The wait for Michael Brantley’s return continues.
After having his workload “ramped up” last week, Brantley felt discomfort in his biceps and lower shoulder area. He had a lighter day on Monday and was diagnosed with right biceps tendinitis.
The Indians flew Brantley to Dallas to meet with Dr. Keith Meister and get a second opinion. He also has received another MRI and a second cortisone shot. It’s more reason for concern that Brantley’s return will come later rather than sooner.
“Even though he was doing front-toss flips, the intensity was getting ramped up,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The examination went really well—structurally sound. His biceps, that’s where the soreness is coming from. In the grand scheme of things, this is great news. … And if this is what it is, they can knock that out and he will get back on the path of coming back.”
That path was already being traveled slowly, as the Indians proceeded with caution after Brantley twice tried to return and twice had to be shut down. The Indians were pleased to see nothing structurally wrong, but multiple cortisone shots, opinions and stints on the disabled list has made his return a tricky case.
June is nearly coming to a close, and the Indians are still searching for answers with how to get Brantley back into the lineup.
Here are 16 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 7-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night.
1. There was an obvious cloud hanging over the stadium Monday night, the hangover of a title celebration with a crowd still flying high on pure elation. It was amazing to look over the crowd, thinking, ‘Every fan here now has one.’
2. The game included several nods by the Indians to the Cavaliers for their title win Sunday night. During the fifth-inning hot dog race, all three stopped to show homage to LeBron James with some of his well-known celebrations and routines. During a “Kiss Cam” montage, the Indians showed a picture of James kissing the Larry O’Brien trophy, which received a loud chorus of cheers.
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With the aura of a championship still hanging heavy in the Cleveland air, Francisco Lindor kept the party going Monday night at Progressive Field.
In the eighth inning of a tied game, Lindor—with his Space Jam walk-up music, a link to LeBron James and his future appearance in Space Jam 2—came away with the key hit to break a deadlocked score and lead the Indians to a 7-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With the score tied 4-4 and Rays reliever Erasmo Ramirez (7-5, 3.49 ERA) on the mound, Lindor broke the tie with a solo home run to right, his eighth of the season. Later in the inning, Juan Uribe added on with a two-run shot to center field, his third home run in as many games, pushing the lead to 7-4.
Bryan Shaw (1-3, 5.14 ERA) worked the eighth and Cody Allen worked the ninth, securing his 14th save of the season and concluding a needed drama-free performance from the back-end of the Indians’ bullpen. The win was the Indians’ fourth in a row after being swept in Kansas City last week.
The Indians (39-30) chased the Rays (31-37) for most of the night, trading runs back-and-forth. It started early against starting pitcher Josh Tomlin.
Brad Miller reached on an error by Jason Kipnis and Evan Longoria made it costly, belting a two-run home run to left field to make it 2-0 before the Indians had an at-bat.
In the fourth, facing Rays starter Drew Smyly, that lead was cut in half after Francisco Lindor singled, advanced to second on a Mike Napoli single, stole third base and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Carlos Santana.
A Desmond Jennings triple and Taylor Motter groundout in the fifth returned it to a two-run game. In the bottom half of the fifth, Yan Gomes singled on a play the Indians reversed with a challenge. He was followed by Rajai Davis and Kipnis, who each singled, the latter of which made it 3-2.
Tired with manufacturing runs, the Indians and Rays traded home runs in the sixth. Brad Miller and Santana each hit solo home runs, and each traveled more than 435 feet, per Statcast. Santana’s reached the second grouping of trees in center field.
In the seventh, the Indians caught the Rays. Gomes doubled, Michael Martinez advanced him to third with a sacrifice bunt and Davis sent a sacrifice fly to right field just far enough to score Gomes and tie it 4-4.
Tomlin threw seven innings, allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and struck out three.
The game included several nods by the Indians to the Cavaliers for their title win Sunday night. During the fifth-inning hot dog race, all three stopped to show homage to LeBron James with some of his well-known celebrations and routines. During a “Kiss Cam” montage, the Indians showed a picture of James kissing the Larry O’Brien trophy, which received a loud chorus of cheers.
The first time I saw my mom cry was after Game 7 of the ’97 World Series.
And she was crying Sunday night, though for a much sweeter reason. She cried as the clock ticked away, and Cleveland had its championship—finally, it was over. She cried again on Monday watching on TV as LeBron James came out of the plane holding the Larry O’Brien trophy, the symbol to relieve so much heartache.
So, so many other Cleveland fans had the same experience. And that’s what this title meant to so many from this area. The relief of so much stress and tension and waiting and disappointment and dashed hopes.
I watched Game 7 with a good friend and our wives. The second it was over, as James and Kevin Love were embracing in Oakland, my buddy hugged me and started crying.
So, so many other Cleveland fans had the same experience. At the Cavs’ watch party at Quicken Loans Arena, where the available tickets were gone in minutes; Outside Quicken Loans Arena, where the available tickets were gone in minutes; In bars, where many of them ran out of alcohol; In homes, huddled around a TV, a lot of people unable to stay seated in the fourth quarter. Everywhere.
All of the emotion came pouring out for so many people in that one instant, just like it did as James wept on the Oracle Arena floor, and Tyronn Lue wept into a towel on the bench, and on and on.
Many Dick’s Sporting Goods locations stayed open until early in the morning to sell championship gear. The lines were 50, 60, 70 people deep, all the way from the register to the back wall. People were driving around with their horns blaring. Some actually ran into the store to make sure they got a T-shirt or a hat. One fan yelled “533 dollars!” when his total was rung up, to which many started cheering.
Fans waited hours to spend money on a T-shirt, because it meant that much. There was so much tension, so much raw emotion, and it was being released and healed. They had been waiting so long to let it go of it all.
The emotions were for Northeast Ohio. The understanding was national. Celebrities, athletes, media members, all have spoken out, understanding what this has meant to the people here, congratulating fans here.
Cities have won a title. Sunday night, Cleveland won its title.
Those types of things act as a conduit to bring people together. Indians manager Terry Francona watched in a local establishment and then viewed the party going on from his downtown apartment.
“I was, by far, the oldest person in there,” Francona said. “And I was trying to be a little bit reserved, act my age. I caught myself a couple of times, my hand would go up in the air, like when [Kyrie] Irving made that three. Or when LeBron blocked [Andre] Iguodala’s layup. But when they won, I realized how old I was, and I tried to sneak up. I went to my room. [Indians replay coordinator Mike Barnett] and I watched all the partying from the 14th floor. It was kind of fun.”
He was at the helm when the Boston Red Sox ended their “curse” by winning the World Series in 2004. He was there, right in the middle of it. Some things don’t sink in until it really is done, mission completed.
“You don’t know that until it’s over,” he said. “People used to say all the time, ‘When did you know?’ When it was over. That’s why you have to kind of enjoy the journey a little bit, because there is no crystal ball and only one team can win.”
Cleveland fans will be reveling in the Cavs’ title for quite some time. Meanwhile, the Indians are battling for first place in the American League Central. They’ll do it in front of a fan base so relieved, feeling so different than it has in the past five decades.
The response doesn’t have to be, ‘What do we do now that it’s over?’ Indians catcher Chris Gimenez hopes it brings more positivity, now that the veil of a curse is lifted.
“Hopefully the fact that the Cavs won gives people some hope, like, ‘Hey, we can do it,’” Gimenez said. “I think that’s what a lot of guys are hoping for, that we can get some people out there. Because we feed off this. The last couple nights have been phenomenal. And we hear the Cavs chants in the fifth inning. It’s pretty awesome, honestly.”
Gimenez grew up 45 minutes from the Oakland Coliseum and is a long-time Warriors fan. He might have a different look soon, as he made a friendly bet with one of the Indians’ clubhouse guys prior to Game 7 and is now not allowed to shave his head for a month, something he hasn’t done since the early 2000s. His shaving supplies were taped above his locker.
“Dude, I have no idea how it’s going to grow,” he said, laughing.
Even as a Warriors fan, Gimenez is well aware of what Sunday night meant, enough that he stayed up for three hours after the game watching the post-game interviews and celebration—and his team lost.
“You can just see the elation on people’s faces,” Gimenez said. “We’ve all been here long enough to know the past sports experiences of this town. I couldn’t be happier for the city, for the people of the city, for sports fans here in general. It’s pretty cool.”
A lot of people have been waiting a long time to feel what they are feeling right now, what they’ve been feeling since late Sunday night, what The King and the Cavaliers delivered. On Wednesday, there will be a parade 52 years in the making.
Soak it all in. This time—finally—the tears are for the best reasons.
The Indians have found some Progressive Field magic in June.
In the bottom of the 10th of tied 2-2 game, Rajai Davis ripped a double to left field off of David Robertson (0-1, 3.95 ERA) for his fourth hit of the day and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jason Kipnis.
With the game-winning run 90 feet away and the bases loaded following intentional walks to Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli, Jose Ramirez grounded a two-out single into right field to win it 3-2 and complete a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox.
Ramirez’s single was nearly fielded by first basemen Jose Abreu, which would have made it the second time in as many innings a nice play in the field by the White Sox (33-36) ended the game. This time, it went through, and Ramirez was mobbed by his teammates rounding first base.
“Every time I hit the ball, I always think it’s going to get past,” Ramirez said through a team translator. “I always think it’s going to get by the fielders.”
The walk-off win came two days after Carlos Santana beat the White Sox with a walk-off home run and after the Indians started June with back-to-back walk-off wins. They didn’t have any in April or May.
The Indians (38-30) also had a chance to end it in the bottom of the ninth. Juan Uribe doubled off the wall but with two outs, a Michael Martinez line drive was snagged by Brett Lawrie, sending the game into extras. Cody Allen and Dan Otero (2-0, 0.98 ERA) each pitched scoreless innings to get to the 10th, when Ramirez finally came through with the decisive hit.
Prior to it, the White Sox twice took the lead and the Indians twice answered.
The White Sox struck early against Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Tim Anderson led off the game with a double to left field and later scored on Abreu’s double to deep center field.
The Indians answered in the bottom half of the inning against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon. Davis singled, Jason Kipnis followed with a bunt single and Davis, who now has an American League-leading 20 stolen bases, stole third base. Napoli narrowly missed a three-run home run, driving one to the warning track, and had to settle for trying the score with a sacrifice fly to right field.
In the top of the fourth, Melky Cabrera put the White Sox back on top with a solo home run to right field, making it 2-1. And, once again, the Indians answered in the bottom half the inning, as Uribe clubbed a solo shot of his own, his fourth of the season and second in as many days.
It was the strongest outing for Carrasco since returning from the disabled list. He tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six. This was also the first day Carrasco felt back to normal since returning from a strained left hamstring.
“As soon as I walked to the bullpen and started throwing, that’s the way I felt,” Carrasco said. “I talked to [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] and said, ‘Hey, I feel the same way I did before, so I think today is my day,’ and it was.”
Carrasco’s day ended in the eighth inning after Adam Eaton doubled to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with the middle of the lineup due up. Bryan Shaw, who has struggled as the Indians’ set-up man as of late, retired Abreu and Cabrera to end the inning.
Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians pounded the Chicago White Sox 13-2 Saturday night. The win pushed the Indians’ record to 37-30 and 20-10 in the division.
1. Facing James Shields, who is on one of the worst runs in recent history as a starting pitcher, the Indians piled on eight runs in the first two innings to cruise behind Danny Salazar.
2. The first four batters reached base, highlighted by Mike Napoli’s three-run home run, his team-leading 15th of the season. Shields didn’t make it out of the second inning.
3. It was a case of the Indians jumping on a struggling pitcher. Shields had a 1.67 ERA in his last four starts against the Indians but a 24.62 ERA since joining the White Sox.
4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “I can’t figure any game where it’s not [important]. He was having trouble locating early and we took advantage of it. Nap with a big swing, then we stayed after him. It’s a good way to play. It doesn’t happen very often so you take it when you get it.”
More: Trevor Bauer finding consistency; Michael Brantley not ready to progress
5. Tyler Naquin had perhaps the best game of his rookie season and is continuing to play well with his opportunity. Naquin went 3-for-3 Saturday night with a home run (his fifth), a triple, a single, two walks and four RBI.
6. Said Francona, “I think he’s more relaxed, especially at the plate. He had a little bit of a tough week in the road trip and then bounces back and takes some good really swings and does some damage. When you have guys sitting down in the 8 or 9 holes, it really helps.”
7. This is his third stint in Cleveland, and he’s performed each time. This third time, though, Naquin has gone above and beyond expectations. He’s now hitting .320 this season and has a 151 wRC+, per FanGraphs, meaning he's been 51-percent above average at the plate.
8. Said Naquin, “Absolutely. I think any time you do something more than once, even twice, you’re always going to feel better about it and yourself. So just go out there, play with a little savvy and have fun. That’s my big thing, play hard and have fun.”
9. He also made two quality plays in center field, one on a ball in the gap and one in which he went straight back. Those types of plays are things the Indians wanted him to improve upon.
10. Said Francona, “It’s nice to see guys get hits but it’s nice to see him go back and get behind that ball. That’s almost the same play he missed earlier in the year. We were thrilled about that.”
11. It was just another great start for Danny Salazar in his on-going bid for the American League Cy Young. He threw 6 2/3 innings, allowed two runs (home run to Jose Abreu in the sixth) and struck out seven. He’s now 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA. Prior to the home run, Salazar was inching toward getting his season ERA below the 2.00 mark.
12. Said Francona, “Then the way Danny was throwing the ball, his stuff was so good tonight. You see his velocity but his changeup almost looked like a breaking ball at times.”
With how good Salazar has been, an 8-0 lead after two innings will be plenty of offense to put the game away.
13. Said Salazar, “It was amazing. It makes the game a little bit easier for you, a little bit slower. It’s like you go out there and want to do your job, do your part. But it’s like you’re not rushing. You’re just calm in executing your pitches. … One thing I put in my mind was the game was tied, 0-0. So every time I go out there, I was confident. But I wasn’t just to trying to put every pitch [down the middle] so they could hit it.”
14. Perhaps it was the run support. Perhaps it was the emotional support. Trevor Bauer wore Danny Salazar’s batting practice jersey in the dugout. After the game, Salazar said, “That was great.” When asked if he’ll wear Bauer’s jersey sometime, he said, “I will. You’ll see.”