He was pressing in the 9th. He also reacted better than any pitcher I’ve ever seen lose a no hitter.
Major league hitters don’t swing and miss as often you may think. When they swing, they put the ball in play 41 percent of the time, hit a foul ball 37 percent of the time and swing and miss just 21.6 percent of the time, or about one of every five swings.
Which helps tells us about the type of stuff that Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco had Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Carrasco came within one strike of throwing the Indians’ first no-hitter since Len Barker’s perfect game way back in 1989, and while it was painful to see Joey Butler line an 0-2 changeup over the leaping Jason Kipnis, Carrasco’s performance rates as one of the most impressive of 2015, not just in results but in pure dominance.
The Indians’ Carlos Carrasco works from the stretch and uses four pitches that would grade out as plus. AP Photo/Steve Nesius
The Rays swung at 67 of Carrasco’s 124 pitches—and missed 30 of them, a swing-and-miss rate of 45 percent, or more than double the MLB average. That’s the most swings and misses in a game this year, three more than Max Scherzer generated in his one-hit, 16-strikeout outing June 14 against the Milwaukee Brewers. The last pitcher with 30 swings and misses in a game was Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins in 2012 start against the Oakland A’s. And the last one with more? I’m not sure. Our database only goes back to 2009 and nobody else had 30.
Mickey Callaway was ejected from the game for less. Go figure.
Never one to shy away from engaging with fans of the visiting team, Cabrera’s generous gift came after a playful back-and-forth conversation with a young fan, who cleanly fielded a foul ball down the first-base line with his baseball cap.
The play was entertaining. But the exchange that took place afterwards between Cabrera and the fan, Dom, was the real magic.
“I just told Miggy, ‘I got your back. You need to be fired up,’” Dom told FOX Sports Detroit. “He looked bored out there.”
Cabrera played along and exchanged a broad smile with the fan. When the inning ended, Cabrera told Dom, wearing an Indians cap and T-shirt, to stay seated.
“At first, I thought he was just telling me to back away and stop talking,” Dom told FOX Sports Detroit.
Instead, Cabrera gathered a gift basket of sorts from the dugout, which included batting gloves and a bat, and tossed them to the energetic fan in between innings.
Giovanny Urshela got his first major league hit in the third inning.
He added his first big league home run in the sixth.
Unfortunately, his family did not get to see either milestone.
“They left in the second inning,” he said.
The 23-year-old Colombian third baseman made his major league debut Tuesday, and his family stayed in town for three days. But his family had to start heading home and couldn’t stay at Progressive Field for the entirety of the Cleveland Indians’ 6-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
Why not call them both up? Urshela has hit .276/.327/.475 in 500 AAA PA. The Indians third basemen have collectively hit .230/.270/.383. Why not try to help their pitchers with improved defense on the left side?
So much of the trouble with new ideas is the eggheads in the front office will dream them up only to see them die on the field. The Indians are committed to breaking that cycle. With shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Giovanny Urshela, they’ve got two Gold Glove-caliber fielders primed and waiting at Triple-A. Their bats have come around enough to push Cleveland to the cusp of .500, which, in the American League, is plenty for wild-card contention. Now it’s up to the pitching, the crown jewel of the Indians’ organization, to do its best Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz/Zito-Hudson-Mulder imitation. It’s not the only chance a small-market club like the Indians have. It’s just the best.
Is Lindor really ever going to be a good hitter? Regardless, Cleveland’s shortstops have a .509 OPS, ranked 29th in OPS, so far this year. Their Off Runs (Fangraphs) at shortstop sit at #27 with -11.0 runs. Overall, their shortstops rank 29th with -0.6 WAR. In other words, their shortstop play stinks anyway, so why not bring up Lindor now?
Francisco Lindor could help the Indians with his glove right now, and perhaps his bat — if Ramirez doesn’t start piling up enough hits to keep the wolves at bay. With Ramirez not hitting at all, and other minor leaguers like Joey Gallo coming up and hitting the ball to the moon, the perception can become that Lindor is being kept down unnecessarily. That may be true in a few weeks, but it isn’t clear at this stage that the Indians are being too conservative with Lindor. He is just in his age-21 season, after all, and he should have plenty of big league baseball in front of him. And while Lindor should help, he isn’t going to cure the defensive ills of Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, David Murphy or Carlos Santana. Still, if the Indians are going to catch the Royals and/or Twins, they’ll need all the help they can get, so hopefully the clock is ticking to get Lindor to the majors.
Los Angeles signed six future All-Stars in 1968 who would combine for 23 All-Star Game appearances, both Draft records. Washburn (Kan.) University outfielder Davey Lopes was a second-rounder in the January secondary phase, while California high school first baseman Bill Buckner (second), University of Houston outfielder/defensive back Tom Paciorek (fifth) and Alabama prep right-hander Doyle Alexander (ninth) were part of the regular June Draft. The cherry on top was a pair of college third basemen in the June secondary phase: Michigan State’s Steve Garvey (first) and Washington State’s Ron Cey (third).
University of Michigan left-hander Geoff Zahn (fifth, January secondary), Connecticut high school outfielder Bobby Valentine (No. 5 overall, June) and University of the Pacific outfielder Joe Ferguson (eighth, June) also enjoyed lengthy careers. The Dodgers inked a total of 11 future big leaguers who combined for a total of 235.6 Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference version), another record.
The Dodgers not only had the best Draft of all time in 1968, but they don’t even have a legitimate challenger for that title. Boston’s 1983 Draft (see below) was the only effort that comes within 50 WAR of the Dodgers’.
May Madness came to a crazed ending for Jason Kipnis. In a way, it made perfect sense based on what the Indians second baseman has done this month.
Kipnis doubled twice, scored a run and drove in a run Sunday as the Indians beat Seattle, 6-3, in 12 innings at Safeco Field. The victory closed the curtain on a sizzling month by Kipnis.
He hit .429 (51-for-119) with 30 runs, 15 doubles, four homers and 17 RBI in May. He hit safely in 25 of 29 games and collected 16 walks and three steals along the way. The offensive outburst raised his batting average from .218 to .340.
The Indians in a show of support for Mike Aviles and his daughter are shaving their heads.
“It’s a team thing,” said second baseman Jason Kipnis. “It started with Mike’s daughter because of what she’s going through. Unfortunately, she’s going to be losing her hair soon from chemotherapy and we all wanted to join in.”
President Somers of the Indians on Friday announced he had discharged Joe Birmingham as manager of the team. Unsatisfactory progress of the club is blamed. No successor has been chosen.
[Portland Beavers] Manager McCreedie…stated on Friday that he could not accept the managership of the Cleveland Indians, for which he has been mentioned since Owner Somers deposed Birmingham.
Asked why, McCreedie declared: “I don’t like to say, but there are reasons. I will talk about it further if the managership is offered me.”
Sources say he had a guy on the other line about some whitewalls.
Before getting to baseball’s dependence on the health of major cable companies, here is a brief look at some early season numbers. The first month of the season has seen big increases in viewership for national games on Fox Sports 1 and MLB Network, including double the amount of viewers aged 18 to 34 watching game on Fox Sports 1. The Chicago Cubs have doubled their ratings after their increased commitment in the offseason as well as the arrival of Kris Bryant. The Kansas City Royals have done the same coming off their World Series appearance. The Houston Astros have seen an increase in viewership after finally resolving their local disputes, at least as far as getting their games on all the local cable packages. The Arizona Diamondbacks have seen their highest ratings in a decade while the games of the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres rank first in their broadcast territories among all shows. A recent article by Maury Brown at Forbes showed that baseball games beat playoff games from the NHL and NBA in many markets across the country.
The ratings so far this season are a great indicator of baseball’s popularity. Not only is baseball beating playoffs in other sports, it is also beating first-run shows on networks.
Kluber’s 18 strikeouts tied Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller for the most in a nine-inning game in franchise history. Feller achieved the feat on Oct. 2, 1938, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Tigers. The 18 strikeouts are the most in the Majors since Ben Sheets fanned the same total on May 16, 2004, with the Brewers. Kluber also tied soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson for the most strikeouts in an eight-inning outing since at least 1914.
Are the 2015 Indians the worst-fielding team in modern major league history? There’s a lot of season left before they can claim that dubious distinction, but with the first month in the books, their play in the field has been poor enough to argue that they very well could.
Fielding is, of course, extremely difficult to measure, but it’s a bit simpler to sort out on a team level than it is to figure out the value of one fielder from the man next to him on the field. The blunt instrument here is defensive efficiency, which measures the rate at which a team’s fielders turn balls in play (except for home runs) into outs. Thus far this season, Cleveland is dead last in the majors in defensive efficiency, converting just 64% of its opponents’ balls in play into outs. That number may look bad, but put into historical context, it looks a lot worse.
Comparing that raw figure to the full-season numbers from the last century of baseball, the Indians’ defensive efficiency (.641 to be precise) is the worst since the 1930 Phillies posted a .631 mark, which is the game’s lowest figure since the start of the twentieth century. Within the context of their respective times, however, Cleveland has been even worse. In 1930, 67% of the balls in play in the major leagues were converted into outs; this year, that figure has been 69%. Compared to league average, then, the 1930 Phillies turned balls in play into outs at 93.8% of the league-average rate, but this year’s Indians have done so at just 92.5% of the league-average rate.