Don’t look now, but those friends of yours that might have inexplicably quit on the Indians after the first week or so, are probably already back on the bandwagon. A night after finally tallying 10+ hits in a game, the Cleveland Indians went bonkers on Detroit Tigers starter and former AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer. The team unloaded on Fulmer, hitting ropes all over the field. Out of the 15 hardest hit balls via exit velocity, only three were NOT hit by the Tribe.
How hard did the Indians hit Michael Fulmer tonight? Their average exit velocity against the righty was 97.5 mph. They registered 12 exit velocities at 95 mph or higher. Hardest was Roberto Perez's 111.9 mph single in the second inning.
— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) April 12, 2018
A leadoff home run for Francisco Lindor, his first dong of the year, set the tone that, seemingly, all this team needed was some warmer temperatures to get their bats going, though playing against the now moribund Detroit Tigers helps almost as much.
Higher temperatures = higher run totals
Playing in their first few games with temperatures over 40 degrees in almost a week, the Indians bats seemed to have no need for hats to keep them warm. There is no cover-all fix for cold weather stadiums and the beginning of the season. You can’t have every cold weather team (those in the Northeast and Midwest) play away from home for two weeks to open the season, and therefore you get the overabundance of rainouts and games played while the players look as though they are preparing for a year-long crabbing run with the guys from The Deadliest Catch. With the wonky weather comes wonky games and an Indians offense that had the appearance of Wesley before Miracle Max’s: not dead, just mostly dead.
Signs of life: Jason Kipnis
After what was a fantastic open to spring training, Jason Kipnis has put the *ugh* in struggled thus far this season, who is only .160/.236/.220 with a wRC+ of 29 on this early season, which includes the last two games in which he went 4-for-9 with two doubles, two RBI, two runs scored. April is never a great month for the veteran, so struggles early are expected, but Thursday’s game is a welcome sight that broke Kipnis out of a 2-for-his-last-41 slump. Let’s continue to hope that Kipnis is getting heated up and breaking the “on” switch so as to not come back down.
Zimmer doing Zimmer things
Sports have this weird ability to make us think one thing has something in common with another. The day Bradley Zimmer hit his first home run of the season, Travis Sawchik of The Athletic wrote about finding a fix for Zimmer. WFNY’s Mike Hattery doubled down on Zimmer-related topics over at The Athletic and wrote about Zimmer’s proclivity for striking out. Since that writing, Zimmer has struck out only the once, albeit only over three games and 11 plate appearances, but even that meager sample size is a welcome sign and has helped drop his 7%…to 39.5. If Zimmer is able to provide league average offense and still be able to do things such as these in center field, we can all be happy to have the Zim Reaper in center.
Not all Goody things
When you have a seven-run lead, you can try out a few things, maybe give a relief pitcher some needed innings to try and right the ship. That appears to be what manager Terry Francona was doing last night when he used Nick Goody in the eighth inning after Trevor Bauer’s phenomenal start (7IP, seven strikeouts, two walks, only two runs given up, and more importantly 74 strikes on 105 pitches). Goody was less than effective, only generating three swinging strikes. With his velocity down this year, missing bats through pitch placement and/or deception is important. An 88mph fastball at the knees is not good for anybody if the batter knows it’s coming. The Tribe front office and coaching staff were hoping someone would step up in the wake of Bryan Shaw’s departure, and Goody seemed ready for the task, but this year has been less than encouraging.