Cleveland lost the game in the first inning. Period.
Bottom of the first, no out, runner on 2nd, Michael Brantley grounded weakly (presumably intentionally) to the right side, advancing the runner. (“Cue Michael Kay, “He did his job!”)
With it, the Indians run expectancy went from 1.06 to .90. Small ball, alive and well in Cleveland.
Then after singling in the runner, Jose Ramirez, usually a great baserunner, was thrown out trying to steal second with one out and Edwin Encarnacion at the plate. The Indians’ Run expectancy went from .52 to .10.
Encarnacion followed with a home run. Cleveland fans celebrated…as did I.
Cleveland’s decisions reduced their run scoring expectancy by about 35%. Go ahead, check my math. This was in what would become a 4-4 game going into the 8th in an eventual 7-4 loss for the Indians. And a good part of why it was a 7-4 loss was because they eschewed the opportunity for a big inning and chose to play for a small one.
If you’ve read my stuff before, you know I don’t use the ends to justify the means. In some cases, Cleveland may have won despite the poor decisions. But those cases are the minority – you’ll lose more games than you win making those decisions and playing like that in inning one.
One more time kids, the lessons are:
- The first inning is as important as the 9th. In this case it was more important because it’s when the game was decided.
- Do not purposely give up an out to advance a runner one base.
- Do not get thrown out stealing with your cleanup hitter at the plate. Your number seven hitter who slaps the ball around? Sure. Edwin Encarnacion? No.
The struggle is not real:
Michael Kay, in describing a Cleveland bullpen management gaffe (too long to repeat his interminable in game monologue here), said that Cleveland manager Terry Francona wanted a lefty to face Joey Votto in a game against the Reds because “Votto struggles against lefties”.
Votto’s career OBP vs. lefties is .401. That’s the same as Rickey Henderson’s career OBP against all pitchers and higher than the career OBP of 126 players in the Hall of Fame.
Speaking of Michael Kay’s monologues that criticize other organization’s bullpen use…
Last night it was the Indians’ lack of trades, lack of free agent signings, Terry Francona’s bullpen management, yada, yada, yada…again, in the middle of what was a pretty good game featuring many of the game’s best players.
The last time he did that was when the Yankees were in Tampa and he criticized Tampa’s bullpen management – specifically, their “bullpenning” strategy.
Rays “bullpenning” update: The Rays have the 7th best team ERA, 3rd best batting average against, 2nd best OPS against, 2nd best SLG against, 3rd best OBP against, 3rd best WHIP, and given up the 4th fewest HR.
They’re 13-5 since Kay’s condescending rant and despite playing about 25% of their games against the Yankees and Red Sox, are 48-45 overall. Maybe they’re on to something with their “bullpenning”.
Some Didi love (not for the HR):
Cleveland bottom 3rd, runners on first and second, one out, Yonder Alonso singles into left field. The runner from 2nd scored, the runner from first was out trying to advance to third. Left fielder Brett Gardner threw to 3B Miguel Andujar who was the cut off in the infield who threw to SS Didi Gregorius who was covering 3rd base.
Why do I bring this up? Because on numerous occasions when Ronald Torreyes was on the field, he did not cover the base he was supposed to cover in situations like this, costing the team outs. Didi did, and took an out that Cleveland was giving him.
Lesson for you fans (and professional commentators who should know better): Being small and talentless does not mean you’re fundamentally sound. Being tall and athletic doesn’t mean you’re there because of your athleticism alone.
Aaron Hicks: STOP BUNTING.
Al Leiter. Luckily, I’m out of time Al, because you continue to prove how far being over 6’ with the ability to throw a baseball over 90 mph left handed will get you in life. Your commentary last night was the usual grappling match with logic and the nuances of baseball that we’ve become accustomed to from you. And as usual, you lost that match again.
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