It’s been an up and down first half for the Indians, but since the rest of the division has only been down, things are looking up. Rather than focus on the team as a whole, however, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst individual performances of the first half.
Best Relief Outing – Zach McAllister, June 12th
Since the bullpen has been the single most terrible aspect of the 2018 season, we’ll look at one great moment here. First, I’m well aware that McAllister has had an overall terrible season. While it appeared he was starting on a hot streak a few times, each has ended very swiftly with another awful outing. On June 12th, however, he was perfect.
The Indians were already down 5-1 to Chicago after a rough outing from Adam Plutko when McAllister came in to hold of the Sox. He would strike out two of the first three batters faced, then come on for a second inning where he again retired the Sox in order. Maybe this isn’t all that impressive as far as relief outings are concerned, but the bullpen was really atrocious in the first half, so this is what you get.
Worst Relief Outing – Jeff Beliveau, May 1st
There were many more contenders for this distinction in the first half with Evan Marshall, Matt Belisle, Tyler Olson, Oliver Drake and even Cody Allen having some particularly prodigious clunkers. The winner (as it were), however, was Jeff Beliveau as he had a part in a devastating loss against Texas.
Mike Clevinger started the game and wasn’t great, but wasn’t awful either as he allowed two runs in 6.2 innings. Having reached 105 pitches, Terry Francona went to Beliveau with runners on first and second and two outs. He immediately allowed a two run double to Jurickson Profar that gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead, then a home run to Nomar Mazara to add two more. A Joey Gallo single extended the inning before he finally recorded his only out of the game. While this seems like he just put a game that was already lost out of reach, the Indians would score six unanswered including four in the bottom of the ninth to push the game into extras. They ultimately lost, however, when McAllister gave up two in the 12th.
Best Start – Corey Kluber, April 9th
An early favorite for AL Cy Young (although he has strong competition on his own team), Kluber’s best came in his third start. With a more than generous two runs of support against Detroit, Klubers outing went a little something like this:
1st: 2 K, no baserunners
2nd: 2 K, 1 single
3rd: 1 K, no baserunners
4th: 2 K, 1 single
5th: 3 K, no baserunners
6th: 0 K, 1 walk
7th: 1 K, no baserunners
8th: 2 K, no baserunners
9th: Sit down and watch Andrew Miller finish things off.
Go ahead and pick any two inning span and Kluber was better in this game than essentially relief appearance by any Indian this year. In all, it was 13 strike outs, one walk and two singles in the 2-0 win.
Worst Start – Josh Tomlin, April 3rd
Sticking extremely early in the season, Tomlin’s first start of the year was indicative of his season as a whole and the first push towards the bullpen.
The Indians scored twice in the first inning thanks to a Francisco Lindor walk and a Jose Ramirez home run (another sign of things to come) and that would be it for the game. Tomlin, however, hadn’t gotten started yet. He allowed six runs in the first including a home run to Mike Trout (extremely forgivable) and a three run home run to Shohei Otani (his first, so it was cool and also forgivable) after unfurling a wild pitch to unload the bases (not as forgivable). He came in for another inning for some reason and, while he managed to barely keep Trout in the ballpark this time, he allowed his third home run of the season to Justin Upton.
Since he only allowed one run in the second, he was allowed to pitch the third where he, you guessed it, allowed a solo home run to Luis Valbuena. If you hadn’t noticed, each home run was give up to a significantly inferior hitter. After three innings, four home runs and eight total runs allowed, Francona went to Dan Otero, who had one of those relief appearances that was in competition for worst of the year.
Top Defensive Play – Bradley Zimmer, June 3rd
R. Kelly may believe he can fly, but Bradley Zimmer has video evidence.
Worse Defensive Play – Yan Gomes, June 30th
While Roberto Perez has had trouble getting the ball from one hand to the other all season, the worst play by any Indians player was committed by the other catcher.
Against the A’s, the Indians were down 3-2 in the eighth when things got a little crazy. Dan Otero started the inning by making that a two run lead with a home run allowed to Dustin Fowler. Tomlin then entered and did the one thing he doesn’t usually do, walk a batter. In fact, he walked two. However, on the second walk, Mark Canha took off from first on the pitch and Gomes apparently forgot that when a batter walks, you can’t catch the runner stealing second. He threw the ball into centerfield, allowing Canha to take third with Jed Lowrie taking first. Canha scored on the next play, but would have scored without the error as Tomlin then did what he does often, allowing a home run to Matt Olson to cement the game for Oakland.
Best Offensive Game – Francisco Lindor, July 2nd
Lindor has been incredible all season, in general and in individual games including four with multiple home runs. His best, however, was his last. Against the Royals and Jakob Junis, Lindor started the game with an out, then was safe on an error when he attempted to bunt, later scoring on a sacrifice fly. Of course, this wasn’t the exciting part.
In his third at bat, after consecutive hit batters, Francisco Lindor hit the Indians 7th grand slam of the season. Two innings later, he followed singles from Rajai Davis and Tyler Naquin with another home run, giving him seven RBI on the game with three runs scored. He lined out to deep right center in his next at bat and was pulled for Erik Gonzalez after a job well done.
Worst Offensive Game of the Season – Yonder Alonso, June 18th
The Indians won this game against Chicago 6-2, but it could have been a whole lot more as games with a lot of offense often come with a lot of missed chances as well. Somehow, Alonso picked up all those missed chances on this night.
In his first at bat, the Indians had runner on first and third thanks to a Michael Brantley single, steal and an error. While Alonso gave it a ride, his line out would end the inning with no score. He then began the third with an out, then ended the third with a double play after Jose Ramirez walked.
He got another run scoring chance in the 6th when Hector Santiago loaded the bases with a walk and two singles allowed. Edwin Encarnacion then struck out before Alonso joined him with a K. The Indians would score one when Lonnie Chisenhall walked, but another strike out ended an inning that could have been huge. With one more at bat, Alonso would end the Indians night offensively with a pop out in the eighth, although by now they had a comfortable 6-1 lead.