The Indians march on Josh Hader, hitherto uninhibited

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Coming in tonight, Brewers reliever Josh Hader had not allowed a hitting in 11.2 innings. Then he met Oscar Mercado’s bearded doppleganger and Cleveland Indians legend César Hernández.

Mercado doubled up to lead the ninth inning, then finished third on insane ground. Then Hernández got a shot on the ground thanks to a five-man infielder to bring him home to give the Indians their first game of the season.

Yes, you read that right. He not only managed to hit a ball hard against the best reliever in baseball, but he did it. this on the ground:

The bottom of the ninth was fun, but the way the Indians got there was mixed. Aaron Civale threw 100 pitches, put out six and walked three in six innings of work. He allowed two runs, but that should be enough for a major league offense to overcome. And that’s it with such a bad strike zone that even he – the guy who makes Corey Kluber look exuberant – had words for the plate umpire after a terrible call in the first inning.

Things could have been a lot worse when, in the seventh inning, Cole Quantrill struggled and loaded the groundwork with a hit, a walk and Sandy Leon’s third interference with receivers of the season. Entered Wittgren in shining armor wielding a nasty change to strike Daniel Vogelbach and avert disaster. He gave the eighth inning lead hitter a homerun, but he got the next three and I’m willing to take his night as a net positive for his seventh inning stoppage.

In addition to his winning RBI, Hernández provided three team-leading hits on the night. José Ramírez was the second biggest contributor, including a circuit that only Progressive Field could love.

I hate to end up on a downer after a clear win, but I didn’t want to start with that and you also have to say: Sandy Leon needs to be replaced. I don’t know if he’s technically the fourth, third or second receiver on the list, but whatever the number is too high. Tonight he got in the way of his third pitch of the season and struck out all four balls. Enough must be finally enough.

The Indians go for the series win tomorrow.

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