It’s Players Weekend and the Indians needed a bit of fun coming off a rough road trip. The Tribe donned all black uniforms with their nicknames on the back, while Kansas City wore all white.
The Indians arrived home at around 4am Friday after suffering a 2-0 loss to the New York Mets. The game Thursday night was called in the eighth inning after two rain delays totaling almost three hours. Their trip to the Big Apple was a big disappointment. The Indians had lost seven of their last nine that ended with a three-game sweep by the Mets.
Any concerns that the team may be tired or morale down, were quickly quieted in the second inning. Jason Kipnis, “Dirt Bag”, started things off with a single to center. Franmil Reyes, “La Mole”, followed with a double off the wall in center. With two runners on Tyler Naquin, “Billy”, singled down the right field line allowing both Kipnis and Reyes to score. Enter Francisco Lindor, “Mr. Smile” who was down in the count 0-2 when he homered to give the Tribe a 4-0 cushion. Lindor now has 22 home runs and 55 RBIs on the season.
The Tribe brought 8 men to the plate during the second inning. They found their way back to the fundamentals. Being patient at the plate and playing small ball has been something that the Indians tend to veer from. When they come back to the basics the offense sparks. Royals starting pitcher, Jakob Junis, had this to say after the loss “In that second inning, I just couldn’t limit the damage. That was basically the story of the night. Even when I was getting them out, they fouled off a lot of pitches and got my count up” If the Tribe is going to make a legitimate run at October, they need to keep doing exactly that. Too often the batters go down one, two, three trying to crush the ball. The simple things are often the most important…make the opposing pitcher work.
The Indians starting pitcher Zach Plesac, “Sac”, continued to pitch with consistency. Through 5.2 innings he gave up four hits, one run and struck out five. He’s now 7-4 on the season with a 3.40 ERA. What really stands out about the rookie is his ability to execute pickoffs. He leads the league with six this season.
Royals Manager Ned Yost spoke about the kid after the game “Against Plesac, we just couldn’t get much going. He was executing pitches; three really good pitches and he threw them in good spots, neutralizing our power.”
The bullpen was solid tonight despite being shaky as of late. Oliver Perez,” El Paisa” faced five batters he fanned two of them and did not allow a hit. Indians’ Skipper Terry Francona then brought in Nick Goody, “Goods”, to pitch in the 8th. Goody also did not give up a run and set the stage for closer Brad Hand, “Bro”
The All-Star closer had blown three of his last consecutive saves. When Hand gave up a single to the leadoff batter Alex Gordon, you could almost feel all of Northeast Ohio cringe. However, after a double play and a ground out, Hand was able to record his 30th save.
Tonight, started the final 34 games. When the Indians head to Minnesota for a three-game series on Sept. 6, we’ll know whether they’re still within striking distance of the division crown. With six games left against the Twins and a hopeful schedule ahead Cleveland can still win the pennant. However, after their short three games at home, they must go back on the road with a different mindset. Any chance for a run will slip away if they experience another hindrance like they ran into in New York.