Tribe 9: Bullpen steps up, trio steps out

Three relievers pick up Miller, three hitters homer

Alex Hooper
April 25, 2018 - 11:55 pm
Apr 25, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Brandon Guyer (6) watches his home run during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Baseball moves at its own pace, at least to this point in time, so let us pace ourselves through nine innings of takeaways from the Indians’ 4-1 win over the Cubs.

Top 1: It is always difficult to fully enjoy a win when you lose a player to injury, and that is probably amplified when that player is so key to your success. Andrew Miller left Wednesday's outing after two pitches to Anthony Rizzo in the 7th inning to left hamstring tightness, which was plenty amplified.

The southpaw will have an MRI on his leg in the morning on Thursday. Miller had issues with the hamstring prior in his career.

Bottom 1: “He’s had it before. Had it (while playing for) Baltimore,” Manager Terry Francona said. “The hope is, I think last time he said it was 3-4 days. That would really be the hope. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow. I think him not throwing another pitch was really smart on his part. And hopefully, that’s all it is.”

Top 2: Luckily, the situation at hand was not escalated further. Miller had entered the game in relief of Trevor Bauer after a single by Javier Baez. Francisco Lindor made a diving stop in the hole, but the Cubs third baseman beat out Lindor’s throw.

That was it for Bauer with the Indians leading 3-1, and Miller’s abrupt wall came two pitches later.

Bottom 2: Lefty Tyler Olson was summoned from the bullpen with the injury to Miller, taking over with a 2-0 count against one of the league’s best hitters. Olson tossed his 2-0 pitch wide before bouncing back with a 3-0 strike that barely caught the black. Rizzo skied the next pitch to center field to get to the bottom of the 7th.

Top 3: "It's definitely something new for me. I've never done anything like that in my career. It was something new. Just trying to go out there and throw strikes," Olson said. "I knew I had more time. I was pretty amped up. I thought I was ready. Luckily I was able to get through it."

Bottom 3: “It’s tough when you throw a ball and it’s 3-0, put that guy on, now you’re in danger of getting a game-losing home run instead of game-tying,” Bauer said. “It’s just such a different feel and different scenario that it’s hard to even prepare or practice.”

Top 4: It can be safely assumed that Miller would have taken the reins in the 8th as well as the final out of the 7th, but that instead fell on Olson, then Nick Goody.

The pair produced an even better escape act following a leadoff double from Willson Contreras, who advanced to third on a groundout from pinch-hitter Victor Caratini. Olson battled to a seven pitch strikeout of Kyle Schwarber before giving way to Goody, who then punched out Addison Russell.

Bottom 4:  “I don’t think the casual fans understand how difficult that is, to go from sitting down, mentally too, you put Andrew in and then you put Cody in—that’s how it goes,” Bauer added. “So everyone down there is like, ‘OK, they’re going to slam the door and we get to watch.’ And all of a sudden two pitches later you go from sitting there thinking the night is over to, ‘Oh shoot I got to go get ready.’"

Top 5: Leading to that point, Bauer was tremendous, allowing just the one earned on four hits and three walks, while also striking out eight. The righty surrendered back to back hits to Baez and Albert Almora Jr. in the 3rd, escaping by retiring Rizzo and Contreras.

He then limited the damage after Rizzo capitalized on back-to-back walks in the 5th. After Rizzo drove in the Cubs’ only run on a single, Bauer bounced back to retire Contreras with runners on second and two out.

Bottom 5: “I think Trevor competed his rear end off,” Francona said. “He battled. I thought he was really good. It looked like he was frustrated at times. But I thought he was really good.”

Top 6: Bauer tossed his fourth quality start of the season in only five starts, and has struck out at least six and allowed three-or-less runs in all five outings. The righty moved to a career 8-5 record in interleague play with a 2.97 ERA.

Bottom 6: This outing came with Yan Gomes behind the plate, the first time the battery had been paired together since Sept. 7, 2015.

Top 7: Following Rizzo’s RBI single in the 5th, the Indians broke into the scoring column in the bottom half with a sight for sore eyes. Brandon Guyer, the lefty-platoon specialist, smacked his first home run of the season to left field off of four-time All-Star southpaw Jon Lester.

It was Guyer’s first home run since August 8th, 2017, coming off of another star lefty in Chris Sale. Guyer missed the final three weeks of the 2017 regular season and playoffs before struggling to a .370 OPS in 33 plate appearances to start 2018.

Bottom 7: “We need him so much against left-handers,” Francona said. “Boy, against one of the tougher lefties in baseball. Just to get it back tied, man it felt so good. And we’re going to face some lefties coming up here in the next week. So, I think that’s good.”

Top 8: Guyer did the job to tie the game, but it was Francisco Lindor who won the game with his 0-1 solo shot to opposite field off of Lester in the 6th. It was Lindor’s third round-tripper of the year, and all three have put the Indians ahead. The shortstop has 25 go-ahead homers in his career, the most by an Indians hitter since his debut in 2015.

Bottom 8: Edwin Encarnacion smacked his fifth home run two batters later in the 6th, giving credence to what Lindor said postgame.

“To be honest, all we need is two or three guys, one day,” he said. “It’s fun to see nine guys getting multiple hits, it’s always good because it calms you down, gives you a little relief. The most important part is two or three guys scoring a couple of runs and giving the pitching staff the lead. That’s enough.”

Top 9: Cody Allen tossed a perfect 9th, his third straight 1-2-3 outing, which earned him his fifth save of the year. Allen has now retired 11 straight hitters dating back to April 18th, and has yet to allow a run in 11 innings of work, one of three pitchers with 10 scoreless innings this season.