When you have 162 games in a major league baseball season, you are bound to see some wonky stuff. Airmailed throws that you are so off target it looked like the player was aiming that way. Diving plays, in the infield and outfield alike, robbing batters of extra-base hits. Stellar pitching performances and amazing feats of strength at the plate. All of these can happen at any point in time, which is one of the reasons I love baseball so much. Rarely do we get to see an entire season of storylines in a single game, however, and that’s what happened Thursday night in Minneapolis in the matchup between the Indians and Twins. We can cover all those season and game storylines today since most of Cleveland and the nation were watching that guy from Akron play basketball.
Jose and Frankie do it again
Name me a hotter duo, I’ll wait.1 But seriously, can there be two more on fire hitters in the same lineup than Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez? Lindor is a tad bit behind Ramirez in most offensive categories but had the upper hand on Thursday as he hit two home runs and two doubles, leading the way to a four-for-five night with four RBI. Ramirez did get a shot in, and boy was it a shot of a home run to cap off a five-run fourth inning. Throughout the entirety of the season, these two hitters have been on a mad tear, seemingly attempting to hit the ball so hard that it goes back in time to wipe away both of their performances in the 2017 ALDS. They supplied the lion’s share of the offense in Thursday’s 9-8 victory just as they have all year.
Lindor's night: 4-5, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) June 1, 2018
That’s a nice rotation
In his major league debut, Shane Bieber impressed for five and two-thirds of an inning, throwing 88 pitches, giving up four runs and eight hits, striking out six and allowing one walk. Bieber got the reputation in the minors of being a plus control pitcher2 and it carried over into the majors. While his line was a little worse than what I predicted yesterday, (85-pitches, four hits, three strikeouts, no walks, seven innings if you don’t feel like clicking the link to check) it’s a great start for a major league debut. He got into some trouble at the end of the sixth, where he missed some spots to Logan Morrison and Eduardo Escobar and paid for them with home runs, but Bieber mixed in his pitches well and performed like a seasoned major leaguer. There’s no reason to “Baby” him later in the year when he inevitably comes back up.3
Oh hey look at that dumpster fire…no wait that’s just the bullpen
Just when I think I’m out…they pull me back in. Only this time instead of getting back into the mafia, it’s the pits of Hades that our bullpen resides in. Dan Otero came on to relieve Bieber and promptly gave up two runs but was at least able to get some batters out. Jeff “The Black Knight From Monty Python Who Should Have Been Dead Already” Beliveau and Zach McAllister each gave up a run without recording an out and had to be bailed out by Tyler “Not Andrew Miller Yet” Olson, who was given the victory and Cody “The Only Good One” Allen. If it wasn’t for the heroic Lindor and his home run in the eighth, the bullpen would have been responsible for allowing another good starting pitching performance and stellar offensive production to be wasted. There has to be some sort of fix, but it’s hard to muster up what that could be from within the organization.
Getting the W
However it played out, as ugly a win as it might have been, the Tribe came away with a victory. This more than anything has been the story of the young season for Cleveland. They have the biggest division lead of any division in baseball,4 and they no longer have the worst record of any division leader, a distinction that goes to the Colorado Rockies and their one more loss than Cleveland. Ugly baseball can still be winning baseball, and as long as you come out with a victory, most will be happy with the result. You can see why and how this team is a great team, the pieces are there for this to be a summer of many victory showers, but hopefully, not all of them will be this difficult to achieve.