Covering the Bases: Game 92

577293932.0Some notes and quotes from Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Royals.

FIRST: Jeff Manship still looked and sounded rattled as he spoke with reporters following a stunning loss to the Royals on Monday night.

“I definitely let the whole team down,” Manship said quietly. “I let Corey down. I let Bryan down. I gave up his runs. That stinks, for sure. Definitely. I feel sick to my stomach about how that went.”

That would be Corey Kluber, who turned in seven shutout innings before a cramp in his right calf forced him out of the game. And, that’d be Bryan Shaw, who had one of his ugly outings. Shaw has had some great outings of late, but when he has gone south, man, has he gone south.

While Manship faced the music after the loss — one that includes seven runs allowed in a gut-punch of an eighth inning — Shaw shook his head when approached by reporters. He didn’t have any comments after this one. And if his reasoning was because the media didn’t talk to him much during his recent 13-game shutout streak, well, Cleveland reporters wrote all about that on Sunday. As in, one day ago.

Nice timing on that one, huh?

There is no denying that Shaw’s season line is a bit misleading. That 4.58 ERA is mostly the result of a handful of really rough outings.

Consider this: Shaw has allowed two or more runs in only four of his 44 appearances this year. In those four games, he’s coughed up 15 earned runs in three innings (45.00 ERA). In the other 40 games, Shaw has allowed five earned runs in 36.1 innings (1.24 ERA). To put that another way, the righty has allowed 75-percent of his runs in 8-percent of his innings.

This means a couple things. First of all, it means Shaw has been very good for the majority of his outings, working around a walk and home run rate that’s up from previous years. But, it also means that some close games have turned into brutal losses. That’s why there’s a large chunk of Cleveland fans (just check my Twitter mentions) that are not overly thrilled with Shaw being the main setup option as the Indians try for the postseason.

The bridge to closer Cody Allen has indeed been wobbly this year. And there is a distinct lack of left-handed setup help to go with the drama-filled outings Shaw has had at times. With the non-waiver Trade Deadline coming, it’s clear that Cleveland needs to look for bullpen help. It was never more evident than on Monday night.

SECOND: Do you really want to know how the eighth inning went down?

Kluber took the mound and planned on continuing, as he was at 95 pitches. After a few warmup throws, though, the righty looked to the dugout and pointed to his calf. It looked like a cramp and the team confirmed as much later on. This was a hot and muggy night in Kansas City, so it wasn’t surprising, nor serious.

With a 2-0 lead, manager Terry Francona opted to hand the ball to Shaw. Just one day earlier, Francona raved about the setup man and his recent success. The manager had some sharp criticism for reporters, too, noting that no one had really asked much about Shaw over the past several weeks.

“I’ve wondered why people don’t ask me about him,” Francona said on Sunday morning. “Everybody wanted him off the team and released, and I didn’t understand that. He’s a good pitcher. Sometimes, good players, good pitchers, struggle. This is going on four years now where he has shouldered a load, and his stuff is better than when we got him, which is a big compliment to him and what he’s doing. He’s really been good.”

The eighth began with a chopper back up the middle off the bat of Alcides Escobar. Shortstop Francisco Lindor might’ve had a play on it, but Shaw tried to grab it and knocked it with his glove to third baseman Juan Uribe. The veteran charged in, but he could not get to it in time.

“If he just lets it go,” Francona said of Shaw, “we probably get an out.”

Then…

Eric Hosmer singled to center. Pinch-hitter Christian Colon, was going to bunt, but he worked ahead in the count and doubled home two runs with a shot to deep center. Colon was thrown out trying to stretch hit hit into a triple. After Shaw got Salvador Perez to pop out, the pitcher then issued back-to-back walks with two outs.

Manship entered and allowed an RBI single to Paulo Orlando. The righty then walked Whit Merrifield and allowed a grand slam to Jarrod Dyson. That’s the same Jarrod Dyson who had no homers in 182 plate appearances this season and only six homers in 1,384 PAs in his MLB career.

“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Francona said.

THIRD: Before the eighth-inning meltdown, the story of the game looked like Kluber’s strong outing with catcher Roberto Perez behind the plate.

Kluber had worked with Yan Gomes in each of his past 40 starts, dating back to last May. Perez was activated from the disabled list prior to Monday’s game, as Gomes landed on the DL with a right shoulder injury. So, not only was Perez working in his first game after an extended layoff, it had been more than a year since he caught Kluber.

“He was really good,” Kluber said. “Obviously, we threw to each other a fair amount last year when Yan was hurt and we developed a good relationship, too. I thought he did a great job tonight, both with the running game and then with calling pitches and working behind the plate. I thought he was really good.”

Perez helped guide Kluber through seven shutout innings, in which he struck out eight, walked three and allowed five hits. The catcher also showed off his arm, throwing out Dyson on a steal attempt in the seventh inning.

HOME: Nearly lost in all of this was arguably the best home run of Lindor’s young career.

In the first inning, Edinson Volquez fired a 1-1 sinker insider on Lindor, who was not fooled by the pitch at all. The home run rocketed off the shortstop’s bat at 108 mph and soared 435 feet right down the right-field line. It stayed fair, dropping deep into the seats for his 11th homer of the season.

The 107.75 exit velocity made that the fourth-hardest ball Lindor has ever hit in the Statcast Era, which covers his entire career. The blast was not only the hardest-hit homer of Lindor’s career, but it was the farthest he has ever launched a long ball, too. It was, as they say, well struck.

Lindor is nearly to his season volume from a year ago.

Let’s take a look at how his sophomore campaign compares…

2015: .313/.353/.482 (390 at-bats)
2016: .300/.359/.456 (353 at-bats)

2015: 12 HR, 22 2B, 4 3B, 51 RBI, 122 H
2016: 11 HR, 20 2B, 1 3B, 51 RBI, 106 H

2015: 69 K, 27 BB, 12 SB, 2 CS, 50 R
2016: 53 K, 35 BB, 13 SB, 4 CS, 63 R

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

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