MLB announced that the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins will meet in a two-game regular season series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 17-18, 2018.1 In response to the news, the two Puerto Rican members of the Tribe, shortstop Francisco Lindor and catcher Roberto Perez, were quite excited to have future games scheduled in their home country with Lindor calling it “a dream come true.”
Those two members of the Indians carried over those emotions and energy into the third game of the four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles as the Tribe won, 5-1. Perez has had a wretched season at the plate, but has continued to be among baseball’s elite pitch framers as Kevin Dean noted:
Perez, called strikes above average
2014: 0.009 (28th)
2015: 0.009 (22nd)
2016: 0.017 (eighth)
2017: 0.022 (third)
— Kevin Dean (@kvnbsbl) June 21, 2017
The bat has started to come around in June for Perez too. A slash of .242/.286/.394 for the month isn’t going to win him any awards, but it makes him playable with that great defense. He also has a hit in five of his last six games with two hits in each of his last two; including against the Orioles on Wednesday.
It was in the fifth inning when Perez hit a double into the left field gap to score Bradley Zimmer from first base as the game’s first run.
Francisco Lindor has had some struggles of his own at the plate. From May 5 to June 13, he slashed .215/.271/.392, which temporarily derailed what had been building as an AL MVP candidate case until that point. The bat has picked up these past eight games as he’s gone .270/.325/.514, and the Indians have ticked up to 6-2 with him. The uptick was expected by many- not only due to his talent but due to his results not matching his expected performance as Mike Hattery noted:
Outcomes will improve.
— Mike Hattery (@snarkyhatman) June 20, 2017
Hitting in the lead-off role (directly after Perez, who was in the nine spot), Lindor was able to seal up the game after the Perez double by rocking a home run to show off his added power stroke of 2017.
Did you think the Rican-Duo was done for the night? Of course not. The Lindor-Perez combination would add two insurance runs in the ninth inning. After Perez pushed Zimmer over to third, Lindor drove in the run as Perez skips out of the way.
Perez then got to touch home plate for the second time on the night when Jason Kipnis looped a single to center.
Break it down, stop. Zimmer Time!
It is almost unfair that the Indians now have three game-changing talents in their lineup under the age of 25 years old. Yes, it is early and too soon to annoint Bradley Zimmer on the level of Ramirez and Lindor, but his speed is no doubt a game-changer.
It was on display above on the easy run from first to home to give Perez an RBI. His arm has made plays recently and his speed in center allows him to make routine plays on what would be tough ones for any other member of the Tribe outfield crew. Oh, and even if a pitcher calls for a high fastball to allow the catcher an early pop to make it easier to gun him down, Zimmer will still be safe on the steal because you can’t touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh).
Other dominating performances
The Indians had several other dominating performances on Wednesday too.
Carlos Carrasco got his season ERA below 3.00 by matching Kluber’s double-digit strikeout, zero walk, zero run performance from Monday. Little Cookie approved of the performance.
Jose Ramirez just keeps getting multiple hits per game. He is at nine games in a row with at least two hits. He has three hits in five of those games. He is hitting an absurd .548/.578/1.625 during the streak as he should be locking down an invite to the All-Star game and injecting his name into any AL MVP discussion.
Oh, and Andrew Miller is still a pretty good pitcher. Entering the game with bases loaded with no outs just means that he’ll induce a grounder to third base (Ramirez throws home to prevent a run), strike out Caleb Joseph, then strike out Ruben Tejada too. Giggles all around.
- The Minnesota Twins will be losing two games from their home schedule and be considered the home team for this set. [↩]