Happy 60th Birthday Dad! So, my father turned sixty and, as any red-blooded American living in Cleveland would, wanted to attend a Cleveland Indians game to celebrate. My mom, as any red-blooded American anywhere would, bought the Tribe tickets through the WFNY TiqIQ website to obtain great club level seats at an amazing price. Too bad all-you-can-eat food and a cover from the rain were not enough to undo the damage from the Indians giving away a game they had rallied to tie, losing 10-7 to the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings of play.1
Y’all might wonder why I’m insane enough to write and dive into analyzing the minutia of the long Cleveland Indians season. Well, my family grew up on the Indians. Weekend games in the bleachers of Cleveland Municipal Stadium with the family are some of my fondest childhood memories. I can still hear my dad yelling “Hooooooo-leeeeee-Ohhhhhh!!!!” for every Julio Franco at bat as we made noise banging those wooden seats.2 Though, to be fair, it might be because Julio Franco is still playing baseball.3 My youngest sister is getting married this summer, so you know we’ll be occupying a good portion of Progressive Field the Thursday that week for the “rehearsal ballgame before the rehearsal dinner.” The Indians are just an extended part of our family.
Keys of the Game
Cody Anderson, regression to the mean and then some
There were warnings in 2015 that Cody Anderson was not quite as good as the traditional metrics demonstrated with his 3.05 ERA and 7-3 record. His 12% K-rate, 4.27 FIP, and .237 BABIP suggested he was more an average pitcher than the next ace for the Tribe. However, a strong Spring Training with three miles per hour added to his fastball teased the possibility of Anderson becoming another head on the three-headed rotation monster. Instead, 2016 has seen Anderson continue to struggle to punch out batters despite his increased velocity (14% K-rate), while he has become increasingly susceptible to the home run ball (3.39 HR/9). Adding to the worry is a 88% strand-rate indicates he has actually been fortunate to only have a 5.91 ERA heading into Thursdays game.
The noon start time did Anderson no favors as the Mariners were swinging from the start. The 96 miles per hour fastball was not fooling them and they quickly put up five runs and nine hits before Anderson left the game without finishing the fourth inning. Get-away day starting catcher Steve Clevenger continued Anderson’s troubles with the long ball by belting his third career home run (456 career plate appearences for the 30 year old “late-arriving” prospect).
Bauer does not make case for rotation role
Taking over for an imploding Anderson in the fourth inning was a fantastic chance for Bauer to state his case to overtake Anderson in the rotation. Instead, after Anderson had left two men on base, Bauer walked his first two batters faced gift-wrapping Seattle another run before Kyle Seager mercifully ended the inning by popping out. However, that run was charged to Anderson.
Bauer would obtain his own runs to count against his ERA in the seventh inning (after the Indians had cut the lead to 5-3). Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz did the damage to plate two more runs and end Bauer’s day as the game felt out of reach with the Mariner’s holding a 7-3 lead. Every Mariner had acquired at least one hit by the time Zach McAllister came in and shut the M`s down.
Rajai Davis shows up and shows out
There would be no balls lost in the sun or times caught napping on the basepaths. Though Davis has certainly had his downside, his bat has done enough in a weak lineup to justify his continued spot in the Indians lineup. On Thursday, Davis hit a double, a home run, and even recorded an outfield assist when Cruz attempted to stretch a hit into a double. He was the player who breathed life into a team down 5-0 with his three-run shot and kept pressure on the M`s all day long (even his outs were hit hard).
In memory of a 14-2 comeback win, Indians push M`s
Down 7-3 and left for dead by most of the announced crowd of 11525 (and actual crowd of 1/3 that number), the Indians would not go quietly into the…day. The Tribe was hitting the ball hard and finally broke through for some manufactured runs in the sixth inning when Santana, Jose Ramirez, and Lonnie Chisenhall4 combined to decrease the deficit to 7-5.
In the eighth, out trotted Joaquin Benoit. The name should be familiar as he has now faced the Cleveland Indians more than any other team in his 16 year MLB career as Thursday marked his 50th appearance against the Tribe.5 Strangely enough, he has faced the Seattle Mariners 49 times. Indians fans don’t often think of Benoit, but, when they do, they smile. Benoit came into the game on Thursday having given up 34 runs to the Indians in 63 career innings pitched (4.86 ERA). The trend continued as the Tribe completed their comeback by tying the score at seven runs apiece on Mike Napoli’s first career pinch-hit home run.
Obligatory Lindor highlight
Cody Allen in a non-save situation
Well, he navigated the first inning he pitched just fine. Coming out for a second inning did not work out so well for him. But, if you walk Franky-G with Cano on deck, then you get what you get. The three-run home run sealed the deal and the series for the M`s.
There are some good things and some bad things that came out of this game, here they are in numerical format
Cody Anderson utilizing the middle of the middle of the plate is not so good
Middle of the order hitters
Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes, and Jose Ramirez are a big piece of the offensive puzzle for the Indians, but they have each gotten off to sluggish beginnings. Each of these batters is bebelow a .300 OBP and J-Ram is pacing the group with his .256 batting average. Better days will be ahead, but the Tribe could use those better days soon.
- As can be seen in the comments, the outcome of the game did not mean they didn’t have a great time. [↩]
- Wait, I said bleachers. Glad you were paying attention, but childhood memories tend to become intermingled and all. [↩]
- Some of you might think you have the best dad in the world, but you are sadly mistaken. [↩]
- another bad play in right field Thursday [↩]
- 60th would have tied into the theme here better! [↩]