Cleveland Indians: Yu Chang’s blunder, where was Jake Bauers?

Cleveland Indians (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Indians lost a divisional game to the rival Chicago White Sox because their first baseman in the series opener was making his whopping fifth start at the position.

Yu Chang, came through the system as a shortstop, but picked up a first baseman’s glove this spring in an effort to be a do-everything utility man. Well, that inexperience came back to bite the Tribe in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Sox.

In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Cleveland looked like the Baseball Gods were going to help out again, courtesy of what looked to be a simple, easy double play ball courtesy of Nick Williams.

Chang plucked it off the bounce, squared to throw, launched, and  then hit Yasmani Grandal square in the helmet. The ball caromed off his head and rolled slowly out of the infield. Nick Madgrial crossed home for the 4-3 win.

One can’t help but think: If a more experienced player was at first, might have he adjusted the angle of the throw slightly to get it to his target. Or, say, if Jake Bauers was put in as a defensive super sub,  would the left-handed defender been able to covert the throw (Chang is right-handed).

Oh yeah, there’s that name again: Bauers. He just HAD to make the club. Expose him to waivers? Teams would’ve been lining up to pluck his .077 average off the market.  Since he can’t hit, and he’s supposed to be good with the glove, one might think the Tribe would try to squeeze some value out of him.

Bauers didn’t start because lefty Dallas Keuchel took the bump for Chicago to start the contest. However, the southpaw was gone by the fifth. Terry Francona has no problem making defensive adjustments in the outfield, why wouldn’t the do the same at first?

Bauers is supposed to be a magician with the glove. Chang’s been a major league first basemen for a little over a week.

Frustration will be the theme of the 2021 campaign, so get used to it. The Tribe will likely stay in the Wild Card hunt up until the final week of the season, but at the same, time, the organizational need of finding out if fringe guys can be everyday players will make for some glum nights.

Chang came through the system as a shortstop and has hinted that he can hit for power, showing off at last year’s Summer Camp, and again in last month’s Spring Training. It’s still too early to judge, but Chang is batting .250 with two doubles in 18 plate appearances. He’s yet to homer as Tito’s answer at first to left-handed starting pitcher.

Not much can be done now, but Monday’s loss makes you miss Carlos Santana even more. The former Tribe All-Star crushed a ninth-inning Tribe rally as a member of the Royals last week with some terrific glove work, and he probably would’ve converted the throw Chang couldn’t.

Next. Coco Crisp to manage Mahoning Valley MLB Draft team. dark

I know, I know. He couldn’t hit the Mendoza line a season ago. He’s currently batting .167. #Justsayin, that’s all.