Indians' offense reminds everyone they're still here and Delino DeShields finally makes his introduction: Walk-Off Thoughts

Ryan Lewis
rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com
Cleveland Indians' Jose Ramirez celebrates after hitting a two run home run off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Cody Reed during the seventh inning of a baseball game baseball game at Progressive Field, Thursday, August 6, 2020, in Cleveland.

Here are six Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians' 13-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night, which improved their season record to 8-6.

1. Ever drink from a cup that has ice in it, in which all of the ice remains locked at the bottom of the glass until a certain breaking point, when every piece at once charges forward in an avalanche of unwanted cubes? In 2007, that was part of a bit from comedian Demetri Martin. On Thursday night, it was the Indians' offense.

Nothing, or very little, for several days. And then, all at once, it all came pouring out in the seventh inning of Thursday night's game. The Indians entered Thursday with 12 runs in their past eight games. They then scored 10 runs in the seventh inning alone in their 13-0 win over the Reds. It was the first time they had scored 10 runs in an inning since Sept. 28, 2018 against the Kansas City Royals. For more than a week, the Indians struggled to scratch together much of anything. And then for an inning Thursday night, it was like walking through a turnstile.

2. In that seventh inning, Cesar Hernandez had two hits, three RBI and two runs scored. For the game, Carlos Santana drew four walks. But the night belonged to Jose Ramirez, who launched two home runs — one from each side of the plate (the second time this season he's done that) — as well as a triple and finished the night with four RBI and four runs scored. But more importantly, to Ramirez, it reminded everyone outside the Indians' organization that the offense can support what has been baseball's best pitching staff thus far.

"It’s a good reinforcement to get that with the media and the comments that people were saying about the Indians have no hitting," Ramirez said through a team translator on a Zoom call. "So it’s a reminder that we’re here, that we can produce and we’re gonna be producing for the rest of the season."

See Ramirez’s two home runs Thursday night.

3. The Indians' lineup has struggled to start 2020, though Ramirez, in the No. 2 hole, hasn't been part of that issue. After Thursday's game, he's now hitting .308 with an OPS of 1.015 and a 182 wRC+. He's slugged four home runs, two doubles and a triple, driven in 11 runs and scored 11 in the team's 14 games. It was a matter of many of the hitters behind him eventually coming around.

"Yeah, without a doubt, I know those things are gonna happen," Ramirez said. "We have a great group of guys, established MLB hitters. So I know it’s going to happen, so I’m really happy for them to happen. But I knew we had the talent, the possibility, to hit this way."

4. Delino DeShields has had just about as unorthodox of an introduction to a new team as humanly possible.

The Indians dealt for DeShields and then, a few weeks into spring training with his new team, the entire league was shut down due to the COVID-19. After a brief time with his new teammates, DeShields and the rest of the Indians were sent their different ways for three-plus months. Then, just as the team is about to converge on Cleveland for summer camp, DeShields tests positive for COVID-19. He can't fly to Cleveland like everyone else. He is, again, isolated, and falling behind. After finally being cleared to join the team, DeShields spent a few weeks conditioning and getting ready for Thursday night. Finally, his real introduction. DeShields went 1-for-3 with a single, an RBI, a walk and a run scored.

"Yeah, it was good," DeShields said on a Zoom call. "I've been anxious this whole time, just wanted to get back on the field with these guys and get the chance to play with them. I haven't played with them since March. To be able to get on the field and play a real game that matters was fun. I'm glad that I was a part of this win."

5. DeShields also carries the distinction — really the burden — of being the only possible value the Indians might extract in 2020 from deal that sent two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. Reliever Emmanuel Clase, who was considered the biggest part of the trade coming to the Indians, was suspended for the shortened season after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. On the other side, Kluber sustained a grade 2 tear of the tres major muscle in his right shoulder and was shut down for at least a month. That deal quickly fell apart for both sides, at least in the short term, although the Indians did cut a considerable amount of payroll. Still, without Clase, DeShields' impact as a speedy, defensive outfielder remains all they'll get this season from that trade. DeShields was relieved a few weeks ago that he regained his sense of taste and smell. Thursday night, he was just relieved to be back on the field. Partially helped by teams being able to have 28-man rosters, DeShields can be a weapon with his speed. All he's looking for are opportunities to make an impact.

"I feel like the way that I play is unique, and I'm not just like tooting my own horn," DeShields said. "You know, I want to win. I want to go out there and win ballgames. I want to go out there and support my teammates whether I'm playing or not playing. I think just being present and being the dugout or wherever I am, and just being there for my teammates, I think is important and I just want to do my part."

6. The offense finally came around, at least for one night, but Carlos Carrasco simply continued the rotation's torrid start to 2020. He pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, walking four and striking out eight, lowering his ERA to 2.50. It's his third consecutive quality start to begin the season. The bullpen, too, has been among baseball's best. At the conclusion of Thursday night's game, the Indians' pitching staff ranked in tie for first in pitcher fWAR (2.9), first in ERA (2.09), second in FIP (3.04), second in K/9 (11.07) and second in BB/9 (2.09). Thursday night was the Indians' fourth shutout this season, the most in their first 14 games of a season since the 1966 Indians had five.

"We got a great group in here," Carrasco said on a Zoom call. "Starting pitching from Game 1 until now, they've been throwing pretty good. Even [Adam] Plutko too, the one start, six innings. And today, 1-2-3, eight pitches, seven strikes [in a relief role]. They've been good. We have a good team every time when those guys do something, we just have to repeat that. There's a little bit of a competition between us, but we never talked about it if this guy goes seven innings, try to go eight. If this guy strikes out 10, try to go to 12, something like that. But I think it's a lot of fun in there, to see those guys throw a lot of innings and zeroes on the board."

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.

Cleveland Indians' Delino DeShields swings during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Cleveland. The Indians won 13-0.