After sweeping the Texas Rangers in a Francisco Lindor, pissed-off fashion, your Cleveland Indians were swept out of Arizona after a 3-2 Sunday afternoon loss by a Diamondbacks team that seemed intent on letting Cleveland know that their spring-time romp in the desert was an affront to the team that lives there through the summer.
It wasn’t pretty.
It’s the second Monday of the season, and fans on Twitter are jumping off the Indians’ ship as though it had hit three straight weekend icebergs. Let’s put it in plain fashion: After the Indians demise, the D-Backs had a team slash of .313/.369/.504, had four regulars hitting over .300 (including Brandon Drury’s .476), and led the league with 48 runs in their first 7 baseball games. That’s seven more than second place Los Angeles, and 13 more than the third place Phillies.1
The game pattern seemed to follow suit to the first two games of the series, that saw both Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer dominate early, followed by the Diamondbacks ripping through the starters as the game progressed, and as their stuff became more predictable. In the first three innings of all three games in the series, the D-Backs scored jack-nothing. On top of that, Sunday’s game was the first time all season that Arizona scored first.
Yet this team is not only in first base, but their 6-1 record is the best in baseball.
Like a by-the-book Hollywood sitcom, the Diamondbacks followed script and erupted for two runs in the fourth inning off of Kluber. For the Indians’ fans watching this weekend redundancy, it was like being forced to binge-watch “Homeboys in Outer Space,”2 after watching the early week Seinfeld-marathon against Texas.
While a full-season of baseball games will wash away the taste of the sandy Arizona desert, what’s going to be hard to forget is the seventh inning, top-of-the-inning madness, wrapped around replay insanity. Here’s what it boiled down to:
- With the score tied 3-0, and with Yandy Diaz and Yan Gomes on first with nobody out, Austin Jackson hit a ground ball to Paul Goldschmidt at first, who threw to Chris Owings for the force at second, who then threw wildly to first, allowing Yandy Diaz to score. Francona challenged Owings tagging the bag at second. The result? Gomes was deemed safe at second. With runners on first and second, a run was in, and nobody was out.
- Umpire Teddy Barrett then reviewed whether or not Gomes should have been rewarded third base, based on the overthrown ball. Barrett kept Gomes at second. The result? Runners on first and second, a run was in, and nobody was out.
- I think this is when Torey Lovullo then came out complaining about the Gomes slide, saying that it was illegal. For a third time, Barrett went back to the review, but was told the challenge couldn’t be made unless it was done before the Indians challenge, saying that the tag wasn’t made on the bag. In other words, Lovullo had to have premonition that the Indians would challenge the call, then challenge the slide first, even though Gomes was out. The result? Runners on first and second, a run was in, and nobody was out. The D-Backs got to keep their challenge, even though they challenged, and it was deemed a fake challenge. Got it? Yeah, I don’t either. I just know I was getting bored.
Before I get to point four, I need break this up, utilizing my own review. It was at this point that Terry Francona decided it was time to bring in Michael Martinez.
Michael Freakin’ Martinez.
Without an out, Francona chose to bring in Martinez to pinch-hit for pitcher Corey Kluber. One of the worst hitters in baseball was brought in to bunt along the runners. I could get into the bunting theory, and why it’s likely never smart to bunt.3 I could get into the better hitter theory.4, and if that wasn’t good enough, so was Abraham Almonte5, Roberto Perez6 and Tyler Naquin7, and while you can argue that they each had a role to play…IT WAS MICHAEL MARTINEZ)) In the end, I just can’t get past the decision to use Michael Martinez offensively, in any capacity. I don’t care the result. It was a bad call, and it turned into a waste of an out.
- Martinez sacrificed bunt, and reached first base on an Archie Bradley throwing error, loading the bases. Luvullo, with his saved challenge, challenged the safe call. Martinez, after the 20-minute debacle of the previous challenges, was called out after what seemed like seconds. The result: Runners on second and third, with one out, and Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor up next. Out, and out. Long inning over.
There’s a lot to debate here. What the hell is going on with replay? Why does Jim despise Michael Martinez so much?8 When does the “ebb and flow” of a game take precedence of pure data when considering bunts? Why kind of repercussions does this sweep have for the Indians going forward?
We have a season to discuss the fine points of each.
The (Hate) List
- The Arizona Diamondbacks–I hate running into a freakin’ buzzsaw. I have liked players on this team for years, but they aren’t this good, and won’t sustain it. We ran into the wrong team, at the wrong time. Thank god for day’s off, and home field.
- Michael Martinez on the roster–This is getting repetitive, and while I don’t blame him for the loss, Terry Francona’s idiotic addiction with carrying him on the roster ahead of Erik Gonzalez…and really…anyone else, is a flaw. With Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis pounding down the doors of a return, it will be really interesting to see what happens next, especially with Martinez. Remember, if he leaves, he’ll be DFA’d. Unfortunately, nobody will pick him up, and he’ll end up in Columbus, waiting. This has to be a Francona-troll job.
- Yandy Diaz departures–Lonnie Chisenhall gets the first call-up, and it could be on Tuesday. It appears as though Austin Jackson has earned his keep so far, which likely means either Almonte or Naquin get sent down. But the writing is on the wall for Diaz. If Martinez remains on the roster, Diaz goes by-by. You know, you need that average defender with no offense, and who is good in the locker room. That’s important. Diaz has been stellar defensively, and while he’s pounding the ball, it’s mostly into the ground and at defenders. He’s close though.
- Chris Owings and Brandon Drury–Yeah, yeah, yeah…they’re scrappy and tough and everyone loves them. I hate them.
- Umpires that review badly–There’s no rhyme nor reason to it, I suppose, but something has to give here. That top-of-the-seventh was atrocious.
- For those counting at home, the Indians have 28 runs, and rank 10th, with one fewer game played than Arizona [↩]
- You know you’re googling it now [↩]
- Run probability is substantially higher when hitters swing away, as opposed to giving up outs, especially when there are better hitters [↩]
- Well, Michael Brantley was on the bench ((scheduled off-day, keep him healthy [↩]
- may need him later [↩]
- And who would replace Gomes if we need another catcher? [↩]
- We may need him later too?? [↩]
- Isn’t there a team in South Korea or Japan that needs him? [↩]