CLEVELAND — The midges didn’t show up to save the Cleveland Indians from the New York Yankees this time, although the Tribe probably wishes they would have.
In traditional Indians fashion in the playoffs, pitching was the downfall. The pitching Triple Crown and inevitable Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber had his worst outing of the year, giving up five runs in the first four innings.
For perspective, Bieber didn’t give up more than three runs in any of his starts this entire season.
On Tuesday, he gave up seven.
Maybe it was the postseason yips, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was just a bad outing because Bieber is human after all.
It was all downhill from the beginning.
Bieber’s breaking ball is nasty, that we know. But rather than start with a wicked curveball or change-up, Bieber opened up with three four-seam fastballs against DJ LeMahieu, the hitter who led his team in Expected Batting Average against that pitch.
With LeMahieu on base, slugger Aaron Judge was up to bat. Once again, Bieber threw a fastball down the middle, which Judge took full advantage of and knocked it out of the park, giving the Yankees an early 2-0 lead.
Bieber implemented the breaking ball more heartily after the first inning, but his fastball remained his Achilles heel throughout the game. Six of the seven runs Bieber gave up on Tuesday were the result of his fastball.
It was his worst performance, and it came at the worst possible time. Bieber is an incredible pitcher. Just not tonight.
The Indians' bats were cold, and that didn’t help. Josh Naylor provided four of the Tribe's eight hits and scored one of the only two runs, the other from an RBI double from MVP candidate José Ramírez. Adam Cimber’s 0.2 innings offered up three more runs for the Yankees. Cam Hill’s two earned runs couldn’t do much more damage in a game that ended 12-3.
On Wednesday, Carlos Carrasco will take the mound and try to save the Indians' postseason as they face elimination from the American League Wild Card series.
Hopefully, he has a better outing on the mound.
If not, pray for midges.