CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Ryder Ryan.
That was the price the Cleveland Indians paid the New York Mets for Jay Bruce on August 10th, but more importantly, the team picked up $4.3 million of the $13 million owed to the outfielder for the remainder or the season.
The other teams heavily involved in trade talks for the former All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner was not willing to pay that extra bit of cash to close the deal.
That other team saw Bruce either score or drive in all four runs in a 4-0 Indians win in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The Indians took their initial lead in the 2nd after Bruce doubled to deep left field on a two-seam fastball that he took the other way before being scored on a double play ball.
That first hit gave Manager Terry Francona a good idea of how his slugger’s night would go.
“More often than not, when a guy hits the ball the other way with authority, he’s on balance, and he’s doing some things right,” the skipper said. “Good thing he showed up tonight because he drove in all our runs.”
While Trevor Bauer continued to put up a start to remember, the Indians waited on their breakthrough hit, which came in the form of Bruce’s 2-run home run in the 4th.
Normally a hitter who makes a pitcher pay for his mistakes, Bruce handled what was actually an excellent pitch. The lefty took a 93.4 mph fastball in on the hands and launched a towering fly over the fence in right.
Bruce does most of his damage out over the plate against righties, yet saved his biggest home run this season to date for a ball up and in.
“I didn’t think the first pitch was necessarily a bad pitch. It was a split that he hit. Had good movement on it. You kind of tip your cap,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Even the home run wasn’t — you know, it could have been in a little bit more, and I think he gets him out there. But he was the guy that hurt (starter Sonny Gray) tonight.”
He tacked another one on in the 5th, a one-out sacrifice fly that scored Jose Ramirez.
The speedy second baseman had taken advantage of some shoddy work behind the plate from All-Star Gary Sanchez in order to reach third base, but when he got there, Bruce went to work. Falling behind 0-2, Bruce battled back by watching three sliders in the dirt before driving a four-seamer.
It was the 60th career plate appearance between Bruce and the twice-traded lefty Jaime Garcia. The hitter gave credit to his old NL Central nemesis.
“He’s always been a very tough at bat for me,” Bruce said. “He’s a guy who changes a lot too. He has a lot of different pitches that he likes to use, and he may like one more than another right now. It was very, very important.
“I’m very, very aware of how much runs come at a premium in the playoffs, and for us to get that extra run up there was very, very important. That’s honestly what I was thinking about is taking a professional at bat there and doing a job.”
Bruce recognized what he had done in creating every run for his team in a playoff game, but said he expects someone else to rise up on Friday.
“I think that’s kind of the beauty of it all is tonight it was me, tomorrow it could be any of those other 24 guys on the roster right now,” he added. “I think that that speaks to the depth and the quality of our lineup, of our team.”