Covering the Bases: Game 93
FIRST: The Indians were trailing by one run in the ninth inning on Saturday. Due to hit for the White Sox were the Nos. 5-7 batters: Dayan Viciedo, Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham. In Cleveland’s bullpen, rookie Austin Adams was awaiting his first taste of The Show.
It was at this crucial juncture that Tribe manager Terry Francona decided to hand the ball to the 27-year-old Adams, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus on Friday. The righty had dominated with the Clippers and Cleveland wanted to get a look at him before the All-Star break.
The decision to debut Adams backfired.
“What I didn’t want to do is let him go until next week without pitching,” Francona explained. “[Sunday] is our last game before the break and you’ve got to figure Cody [Allen] or [Bryan] Shaw are going to pitch. So, we had the bottom of the order and it was a clearn inning, and it didn’t work very well.”
Adams surrendered a leadoff single (Viciedo) before giving up back-to-back doubles to Gillaspie and Beckham. The right-hander then induced a groundout to Tyler Flowers before being pulled from the contest. Needless to say — with his parents, grandfather and girlfriend in the stands — this was not what Adams had in mind.
“First time, you get a taste of it,” Adams said. “The results weren’t there, but you can only go up from there.”
It’s easy to see why Adams, who was admittedly nervous, is prominent on Cleveland’s radar. The right-hander showed off a fastball that sat in the 96-98 mph range and also displayed an 86-mph slider. At Triple-A this year, he had a 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 35 strikeouts against eight walks in 39.1 innings. He missed all of 2012 after shoulder surgery, returned as a reliever, and has posted a 2.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 3.00 K:BB with 111 strikeouts in 94.1 innings over the ’13-14 campaigns.
Not to pile on the poor kid here, but it was the first time since Aug. 5, 2001, that an Indians reliever allowed at least three runs and three hits in his Major League debut. Mike Bacsik went six innings in that game, though. You have to go back to Sept. 20, 1946, to find that last Cleveland reliever (Ray Flanigan) who allowed at least three runs and three hits in his debut. For no more than one-third of an inning, you have to go all the way back to Sept. 21, 1922, when Doc Hamann’s name pops up. That said, Doc didn’t record an out.
“It was good to get the first out of my big-league career,” Adams said with a shrug. “It’s going to get better.”
SECOND: Today’s tip o’ the cap goes to Indians starter Zach McAllister, who gave his team seven solid innings. The big righty induced 13 outs via grounder, scattered four hits, allowed three runs and ended with two strikeouts and a pair of walks. In his first start in the Majors since May 21, McAllister looked fine. He was effective with his fastball and took a hard-luck loss due to a lack of run support.
“I was extremely happy with it,” said McAllister, who gave up 18 runs on 18 hits and toiled through 182 pitches across 7.2 innings in his previous three big league starts. “It’s kind of what I had in mind and was hoping I was able to accomplish. Obviously, it would’ve been a lot better if we were able to get the ‘W.’ We didn’t today, but again, it’s a good step in the right direction.”
THIRD: Cleveland’s offense went mostly quiet on Saturday, especially against White Sox righty Scott Carroll, who blanked the Tribe over five innings before exiting with a back injury. The Tribe’s two runs came courtesy of a bases-loaded walk from Jason Kipnis in the seventh and a solo homer from All-Star Michael Brantley in the eighth. With that shot, Brantley tied his dad Mickey’s single-season career best of 15 (set in 1988 with the Mariners). It seems fair to say Junior will have the family bragging rights.
“I just put the barrel on the ball as much as possible,” Brantley said. “I’m not a home run hitter. I put good swings on the ball and whatever happens after is out of my control.”
HOME: You know who is a home run hitter? Jose Bleepin’ Abreu. He launched a two-run homer down the right-field line in the fourth inning off McAllister, giving him five this season against Cleveland. Abreu now has 29 homers, 50 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs in the first half. The Indians have never had a player reach those plateaus in a first half. The White Sox have only had one other hitter do so — some guy named Frank Thomas in 1994. In baseball’s long, storied history, Abreu is the first first-year player to reach those milestones in a first half.
“He’s obviously very dangerous,” Francona said. “That’s probably the understatement of the year.”
White Sox (45-50) at Indians (46-47)
at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at Progressive Field