While the Indians starting rotation has been taking a beating in terms of injuries the season, the team has found a way with some young starters to make ends meet.
It happened again on Saturday, as the team used a pitcher who starter the season in AA Akron, Aaron Civale, and he did over and above what many likely felt he would, helping the team to a 2-0 shutout over the Detroit Tigers.
Civale struck out the side begin the game never looked back, as he went six innings of shutout ball to earn his first Major League win.
The offense did enough, scoring a pair of runs, and the pen allowed a couple tense moments in the final three innings, but closed the door to move the Tribe to 41-35.
The Indians will look for their second straight sweep of the Tigers Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field with another young starter, that being Zach Plesac, who has also been impressive in his outings in the Majors thus far.
Here’s a couple takeaways from the Tribe’s latest win as they continue to keep pace in the AL Wild Card race.
1. A Dazzling Debut
What more can you say about Aaron Civale? He allowed just two infield hits over six innings, striking out six, walking three and working out of a sixth-inning jam to seal the win.
Yes this likely for now will be his only Major League start as he’ll be sent back to AAA Columbus to continue to develop, but now the team knows that they can turn to him in a pinch if need be.
Civale threw 87 pitches, 46 for strikes, and another impressive aspect of his game was the fact he never allowed a Tigers batter to reach base to start an inning.
You can never have enough quality pitching, and part of the reason the team is in the wild card race is what the young pitching has done thus far in 2019.
2. The ‘O’ Does Enough
While the Indians offense had been feasting as of late against Tigers pitching, Saturday was more of a struggle as they managed just a pair of runs on six hits.
The team scored single runs in the second and third to build the two-run edge, with Oscar Mercado singling to center, scoring Mike Freeman making it 1-0 in the second.
In the third it was Jose Ramírez hitting a triple to deep right, bringing around Jason Kipnis for the 2-0 lead.
That’s all the offense would get on the day, but with the pitching doing its job it was enough.
Mercado put up a pair of hits and is hitting .311, and Freeman getting a rare start at third base went 2-for-3 and is hitting .267.
3. Another Shutdown Day for the Pen
Four relievers did their job in the win for the Tribe, and while there was some nervous moments even in the 9th when closer Brad Hand was on, in the end they got the job done.
Nick Wittgren earned his 8th hold, Oliver Perez and Adam Cimber each also earned holds, and Hand came on for his 22nd save of the season.
Hand needed 19 pitches to get out of the 9th, but got a pair of K’s to end the Tigers threat with two on with one out.
The pen continues to be a strong point for this team, and it’s no surprise they are right near the top of all of baseball with Hand now leading the AL in saves again with 22.