The Cleveland Indians protected their house on a blustery day at Progressive Field. It wasn’t pretty or perfect, but it was a win nonetheless.
It was a cold, windy day at Progressive Field as the Cleveland Indians kicked off their first homestand of 2018 with a victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Those hoping the friendly confines of the Tribe’s home field would give way to an offensive explosion were teased early on, but the elements combined with some honed-in pitching performances to keep both teams off the board after the first inning.
The bats have yet to truly come alive for the Indians, but a win is a win. Here are three takeaways from this afternoon’s 3-2 triumph.
Patience pays off early
After struggling so much offensively on their road trip, it would not have been shocking to see the Indians start pressing at the plate in front of the home crowd. To make matters worse, the Royals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
But the Indians didn’t press at the plate or try to do too much. Instead they allowed Royals starter Danny Duffy to walk their first two hitters before surrendering an RBI single to Jose Ramirez. Duffy then gave Edwin Encarnacion a free pass before giving up another RBI base hit.
Duffy didn’t make things very difficult on the Indians in the first inning, throwing 16 balls in his first 20 pitches. But the Indians didn’t make things hard on themselves, either. They allowed him to make his mistakes and took what was there. That’s an encouraging sign for a team struggling to find offense.
Welcome back, Brantley
The first pitch Michael Brantley saw in 2018 wound up in shallow right field and plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the 3-2 victory. To see the left fielder back in action (and driving in runs on his first swing of the season, no less) was a sight for sore eyes.
Brantley batted fifth behind Encarnacion in the lineup with a lefty on the mound, but it’ll be interesting to see where Terry Francona slots him in against righties if Yonder Alonso is going to continue to shift up and down according to pitching matchups.
In any case, Brantley provided the spark the Indians needed to earn their first home victory today, and his teammates and fans alike are thrilled to have him back.
Carrasco battens down the hatches
There are days when a starting pitcher is going to have his best stuff from the outset, and then there are days when he has to find it along the way. The latter was true of Carlos Carrasco today, probably due more to the weather than anything else, but find it he did.
After allowing two hits to begin the game, things could have gone in any of a number of unfavorable directions thereafter. Carrasco stayed calm, however, inducing an inning-ending double play and limiting the Royals’ damage to two runs.
He didn’t allow another base runner until the sixth inning, which would test his mettle once again. He found himself in a bases-loaded jam with one out, his pitch count climbing. He then rung up Lucas Duda and battled with Cheslor Cuthbert until the Royals first baseman lined out to left field. Cuthbert was the last batter Carrasco faced before turning it over to the bullpen.
There’s something to be said for reaching deep down to find that extra layer of toughness on a brutally cold day when things get rocky early on. Carrasco found that in himself today, and navigated some stressful innings en route to his second win of the season.
Trevor Bauer will look to follow his lead tomorrow, and the Indians will look to build on what made them successful today.