Cody Anderson was not supposed to be here. This was Trevor Bauer’s start day. But due to Corey Kluber’s unfortunate injury, Cleveland rejiggered its pitching rotation, moving Bauer to next week and thrusting Anderson into his first MLB start since 2016.
Anderson started in Columbus on April 28 against the vaunted Durham Bulls. He faced luminaries of the game like Kean Wong and Emilio Bonifacio. Had he stayed in the minors, Anderson would have probably pitched on Thursday in Toledo and rested all weekend. Instead of spending his Sunday gardening or listening to the new Vampire Weekend album or whatever Cody Anderson does, he had to pitch in a Major League Baseball game.
It did not go well.
That was all we saw from Cody Anderson today. His valiant struggles caused Terry Francona to put down his Popsicle, stride to the mound, and pry the ball from Anderson’s fruitless fingers. The starter in name only recorded two outs and surrendered four runs, all before his team even had the chance to hit.
Jon Edwards was also not supposed to be here. At least, not this early. He came in for Anderson in the literal first inning, tidied things up, and returned for the second. Surely he couldn’t make things THAT much worse than Anderson, right?
Edwards vanished by the time the third inning rolled around, presumably to cover a shift at the Hard Rock Café, or whatever Jon Edwards does.
Tyler Olson emerged to batten down the hatch. The former Mariner submitted Cleveland’s first clean inning of the afternoon, albeit with the help of Tim Beckham just walking off of second base after forgetting how many outs there were. Then, he began the fourth inning courteously, graciously letting Braden Bishop to pick up his first career MLB hit. Once Daniel Vogelbach drove him home on a sharp single, Olson was removed, giving him more time to watch Elias Harris highlights in the clubhouse, or whatever Tyler Olson does.
Cleveland opted for the alphabetical approach to bullpen management, going with Otero after Olson. Five pitches into his workday, Dan Otero (who exists in my mind only as a guy who gives up home runs), gave up a home run. It went real far.
The fifth inning served as a necessary reminder that Otero can do other things, too. Like give up doubles, which are just half home runs. Otero gave up one double to the warning track, and another after his right fielder lost the ball in the sun. Do not try to fight the sun, y’all. It is very powerful and at least 10 times larger than your average baseball.
Bishop collected the first two RBI of his career after the sun double, as Dylan Moore artfully avoided the tag on his slide into home. This brought the score to a nice, round 10-0 and gave the Mariners their seventh game of the year with double digit runs. Otero ended the fifth inning by striking out Mitch Haniger and headed straight to the local Little League field to allow even more runs, or whatever Dan Otero does.
From there Cleveland began experimenting with actually effective pitching. Oliver Pérez, Tyler Clippard, and Neil Ramirez breezed through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The trio allowed just one hit and retired to a nearby karaoke joint to perfect their Sublime cover band, or whatever Oliver Pérez, Tyler Clippard, and Neil Ramirez do.
In a hilarious twist of fate, the most efficient pitcher out of Cleveland’s bullpen was not a pitcher at all. Catcher Kevin Plawecki drew ninth inning duties and got three quick outs on six pitches, all of which were strikes. Riding a wave of confidence, Plawecki floated into the dugout, got some butt slaps, experienced a new invigoration that his life had been missing, remembered what it’s like to feel whole again, and how the purest form of that feeling comes from within, started some serious introspection about how his entire self-worth had been tied to baseball, and how maybe he should explore other things outside his comfort zone that make him genuinely happy, rather than just continuing on this conveyor belt we call life, began thinking about that therapist recommendation he got a couple weeks ago, and whether calling them would make him feel better or worse about his current state, before remembering that his busy work schedule would make therapy super tricky, and instead just tossed some bubble gum in his mouth and stared at the ground, or whatever Kevin Plawecki does.
Anyway, the Mariners kicked ass today. Erik Swanson was legitimately great, with the only nitpick being that he used 106 pitches to get through six innings. If the trade acquisitions Seattle made this winter were a concert flier, Justus Sheffield and Jarred Kelenic would have been in big fonts at the top. Erik Swanson was probably somewhere in the middle; he was the midday set at a smaller stage. With a performance like today’s, though, Swanson certainly caught the eyes of many. It was the kind of display that leaves you wondering if he’ll be a headliner at the same show one year later. Relying heavily on his fastball and inducing lots of lazy fly balls, Swanson indicated why he was considered the most big-league ready of any of the farm boys. He finished the day with three strikeouts, three walks, one hit, and infinite confidence moving forward. Two of the strikeouts came looking, too, which let home plate umpire Tom Hallion fire up his invisible chainsaw and shout gibberish into the sky.
The yearly New York-Boston trip comes next, though all the Yankees currently have diphtheria and the Red Sox kinda suck right now. If there’s ever a time to play those titans, it’s right now, coming off the best offensive showing in weeks.