CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Come October, there will most likely be no shortage of talk about the Indians’ bullpen. But for now, it may be impossible to give Indians relievers enough credit.
The best bullpen in baseball has saved the best streak in baseball multiple times through its current run, and Saturday was no departure.
Starter Josh Tomlin turned in a stretch of 13 hitters retired in a row, but that stretch ended with a solo shot from Tim Beckham to lead off the 6th inning. At that point, Manager Terry Francona found himself going to his bullpen with a one-run lead against a lineup which averages 21.7 home runs per person.
The combination of Joe Smith, Craig Breslow, Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen picked up their starter with four scoreless innings, allowing a single hit and striking out seven.
Shaw managed to strike out the side in order in the 8th, shutting the door on Seth Smith, Beckham and Manny Machado on 13 pitches.
“He’s reliable, he’s at the top of the leaderboard again in appearances, it doesn’t look like that tank is on empty,” Francona said of Shaw. “It seems like he gets stronger as the year goes.”
Francisco Lindor hit his club-record extending 28th home run as a shortstop, which extended the lead to 4-2 in the 7th, but the skipper never felt out of the woods.
“I don’t know, maybe it looks different from your angle than mine,” he laughed. “When I sit there and look at (Trey) Mancini, (Jonathan) Schoop, it doesn’t seem spread out.”
Allen picked up his 25th save of the season by sitting down Schoop, Mancini and Adam Jones on 10 pitches.
Los Lonely Boy
With his 5th inning RBI double, Carlos Santana picked up his 585th career run batted in, taking sole possession of first-place on the club’s all-time list for RBI by a switch hitter.
The first baseman passed Omar Vizquel, who took 6542 plate appearances to reach 584 RBI. Santana took just 4704 appearances to hit the mark.
Gone Streaking Pt. Deux
Speaking of streaks, with his 7th inning single, Edwin Encarnacion extended his streak of games reaching base to 32.
The last time Encarnacion did not reach base was August 5th in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees at Progressive Field.
Over that stretch, the slugger is 29-for-109 (.266) with a .409 on-base percentage. With 12 home runs and 2 doubles, Encarnacion came into Saturday with a .629 slugging percentage.
Speedy centerfielder Bradley Zimmer was hit by pitch in the 6th inning, stealing second base for his 18th stolen base of the season. It came on just his 19th stolen base attempt of the season.
Of the 29 players with 18-or-more stolen bases on the year, only Zimmer and Minnesota Twins centerfielder Byron Buxton have been caught stealing just once.
Coincidentally, Buxton and Zimmer are the fastest and third-fastest players in baseball respectively, according to Statcast. Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton separates the two and is 58-of-68 in stolen base attempts.