Smoke Signals: Cleaning it up, running it down, and closing it out

Tribe ends first half with strong, crisp showing

Alex Hooper
July 15, 2018 - 5:36 pm
Jul 15, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) steals second base beside New York Yankees second baseman Neil Walker (14) in the eighth inning at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Overall, the last 12 meetings between the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees have not been kind to Terry Francona’s bunch, and they had not done much to help themselves.

More recently, the Indians had just made mistakes in the field and eliminated the miniscule room for error against the Evil Empire. Most recently, Sunday’s first half finale at Progressive Field, the Indians turned the tables.

Coupled with their signature starting pitching, two of the more unlikely heroes defensively contributed big plays in left fielder Michael Brantley and first baseman Yonder Alonso. While the latter’s leaping grab in the 5th stopped Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton from scoring, the former turned in a diving snag before a solo home run in the 8th that proved to be the winning run.

Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer surmised that his team had beaten themselves in three of the seven regular season games in 2018. That said more to the righty about who they are than who they have been.

“We know what team we have and we can match up with anybody,” Bauer said. “Who knows, sans a couple errors and bad play yesterday, who knows who wins that game so you can call that a draw and then two games in New York where we kicked the ball around. So we played them pretty even back and forth.”

It was not just the defense that returned to form, as the Indians tacked on two insurance runs against Chad Green in the 8th.

Following Brantley’s homer, Jose Ramirez singled before stealing second base. The pressure forced an errant throw from rookie catcher Kyle Higashioka, sending Ramirez to third. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes.

Aside from what is becoming a routine of an extra-base hit a night, the infielder seems to be adding an impressive hustle play in each game as well.

Upon his ascent to the top of baseball’s WAR list, Ramirez has made an impression as more than one of the game’s best, but also one of its most passionate.

“I know I’m not supposed to run out of things to say because I’m not supposed to because I love bragging about the guys but it’s hard,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He’s a great player. He’s a great teammate. And he cares about winning, almost desperately. That’s a pretty good combination to be all balled up into a 5-foot-9 third baseman.”

This Cookie don’t crumble

Francona had indicated that starter Carlos Carrasco could appear out of the bullpen over the weekend. The righty last started on Wednesday, and was available out of the pen Saturday but did not appear.

It turned out that the relief help was needed as Carrasco appeared in the 8th inning of a tie game. He faced the minimum, striking out two, while also hitting 97 mph on the radar gun.

He also picked up the win, which agitated a playful Bauer.

 “Yeah, every time he touches the ball he gets a win. It’s unbelievable,” Bauer said with a laugh. “He can give up 10. He can give up zero. He can come out of the ‘pen. He can start. He freaking vultured my win, man, unbelievable.

“Um, that’s all I have to say about that, that’s ridiculous.”

It was Carrasco’s first relief appearance since August 5, 2014 against the Cincinnati Reds, in which he allowed three earned on six hits over four innings.

Busted wing?

Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion exited the game after being hit in the right wrist by a fastball in the 8th inning.

Imaging after the game indicated no fracture was suffered, which the player confirmed.