Going into Friday night’s game against the Tigers, the Indians had six qualifying batters, all of whom were hitting below .225. The Tigers also had six qualifying players, all hitting over .310. The Tigers’ starting pitcher, Shane Greene, had an ERA of 0.39. Danny Salazar, with a 3.00 ERA, was coming off a great start on April 18 but just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one good start doesn’t make a reliable starting pitcher. Plus the Tigers swept the Tribe at home in their first meeting. So it was with some trepidation that I settled in to watch the game.
Typically the Indians will post their starting lineup on Indians.com a couple of hours before the game. The Tigers’ starting lineup was up before 5:00. Today, however, the Indians waited until about 40 minutes before game time. I couldn’t figure out it was so late, then I realized that there is a natural time lapse when one shifts into Bizarro World.
Now, I know you’re thinking “Come on, there ‘s no such place as Bizarro World.” Initially I was skeptical too. The Indians scored two runs in the 1st, which seemed a little unusual. But I really had my first inkling that something was up in the bottom of the 1st. Ian Kinsler walked, Miguel Cabrera singled (no extra bases?), and Victor Martinez was hit by a pitch. So the Tigers had the bases loaded with only one out and their #5 hitter coming to bat. And they failed to score.
The Indians scored another run in the top of the 2nd. But then in the bottom of the 2nd, the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos hit a solo home run, which seemed like something the Indians would do. (Going into tonight’s game, the team had 11 dingers, all solo shots.) And Miguel Cabrera struck out with two men on base. Weird, right?
And what about the defense? We had some. Brandon Moss made a great diving catch of a Victor Martinez bloop that would have been a single to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. And Kipnis made a jumping catch to end the 3rd. Through all this, Danny Salazar was pitching a fabulous game. The Tigers managed 6 hits off him but only 1 run through 7.0 innings. Salazar walked 3 and struck out 11. Apparently in Bizarro World, teams can actually have strong starting pitching and run support at the same time. You don’t have to choose one or the other.
It got really weird in the 5th inning. Jose Ramirez singled, Michael Bourn walked, and Jason Kipnis tapped a funky bunt single that first rolled foul and then rolled into fair territory to load bases. In other words, the Indians actually caught a break. In an infant season that’s already seen its share of curses and injuries, catching a break is only something that could happen in Bizarro World.
Underwood and Manning started babbling about how there were no outs with the bases loaded. My cynical husband was sure they’d just jinxed things. “Watch. First pitch,” he said. By now, I’d come to accept and indeed welcome our new Bizarro World overlords. “Brantley’s up,” I replied. “If it were anybody else but him, I’d worry.” Brantley did swing at the first pitch—and hit a solid line drive single that scored Ramirez, making it 4-1. Then Santana hit a two-run double to make it 6-1. Alex Wilson came in to relieve Shane Green, who left the game with an ERA (3.00) that you no longer need a microscope to see. First pitch, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer to make it 9-1. Not only was this the Indians’ highest run output of the season, it was their first home run with a man on base this season.
And this team that called itself “the Cleveland Indians” wasn’t done scoring. Lonnie Chisenhall had a two-run homer in the 8th, and Brandon Moss hit another home run in the 9th. In the first six games of this road trip, the Indians scored 17 runs. They scored 13 tonight. Where the hell have these guys been? After Chisenhall’s home run, the camera briefly showed him sitting in the dugout talking to Corey Kluber. I think Kluber was wondering the same thing.
Final score, Indians: 13, Tigers: 1. How bizarre. How lovely.