Indians earn strikes, steals in win over White Sox

Indians run steals streak to 23

Alex Hooper
June 19, 2018 - 11:34 pm
Jun 19, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) hits a two-RBI single in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – With a starting pitcher like Mike Clevinger, one big inning is all you may need on a given day. When on said day, the opposing pitcher is giving you help, the goal is not to give him any help in return.

The Cleveland Indians treated Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon very selfishly in the 2nd inning of Tuesday night’s affair.

Rodon struggled mightily with his command in the 2nd, issuing a four-pitch, leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnacion before hitting (who else?) Brandon Guyer with his next pitch.

With two-on and none out, and a one-run lead, Rodon threw two more balls to Yonder Alonso. The first baseman worked a full count, including taking a slider in the dirt, prior to tying the game on a 97.7 mph RBI single.

The lefty uncorked a wild pitch against Yan Gomes to score Guyer, and two batters later, Francisco Lindor watched two fastballs out of the zone before squaring up the first strike he saw. That pushed things to 4-1, and would be all the cushion the Indians needed behind Clevinger and a shaky outing from Zach McAllister.

Manager Terry Francona noted post-game that his hitters ‘earned’ the fastballs they got against a wild, but effective pitcher.

“His stuff is so good. His breaking ball, his slider is so good. In the inning we had the four, I thought our guys did a really good job,” Francona said. “Laying off some of those breaking balls isn’t very easy to do.”

In that second inning, the Indians watched all but one of eight Rodon sliders, a 2-2 pitch inside to Rajai Davis that the center fielder fought off. The only other slider for a strike was the first pitch to Michael Brantley in the final at-bat of the inning.

Aside from a pair of two-strike pitches in to Davis, including the sliders, the only strikes for Rodon outside the strike zone in the inning were a first pitch fastball that Davis chased, and a fastball out of the zone to Gomes.

Despite the manager’s assertion that Rodon’s slider is ‘so good,’ the pitch has not been a plus-offering in some time. The lefty’s slider carried a weighted value of -2.2 since the start of 2017, 14 starts, according to FanGraphs. Prior to 2017, Rodon’s slider did have a value of 24.7 in 54 appearances in his career.

Rodon entered his third start of 2018 throwing his slider a career-low 19.3% of his pitches.

Serial thievery

Depending on who you ask, the stolen base has ‘died’ in past years, mostly because of the inefficiency of the practice. The risk of losing a base-runner generally outweighs the gain of an attempt, and the success rate has not been high enough to justify said risk.

Terry Francona says that is rubbish.

With Rajai Davis’s steal of second base in the 7th, the Indians pushed their streak of consecutive successful stolen bases to 23. That is the club’s longest streak since at least 1974, according to STATS LLC, and the longest streak in Major League Baseball since 2016 when the Milwaukee Brewers had 24.