CLEVELAND — Taylor Rogers was angry, which wasn’t surprising. But this was: He let it show.
Rogers, uniformly stoic on the field, turned toward home plate and pointed at umpire Ed Hickox after Melky Cabrera’s one-out single. It was a small gesture, but coming from Rogers, it was telling.
“He missed a pitch,” Rogers said of Hickox, who called a 1-2 fastball, which replays showed crossed the plate knee-high, a ball, extending the at-bat. Rogers turned around and said he didn’t notice that the umpire took a couple of steps toward him. But there was no confrontation, and the inning ended one pitch later, when Jason Kipnis lined into a double play.
“Trying to preserve a one-run ballgame, I’m not going to apologize for emotions,” Rogers said. “I probably should have directed them differently.”
Actually, manager Paul Molitor sounded delighted to see Rogers get upset.
“We see it, like, once a year,” Molitor said with a laugh. “He’s got a lot of fire in his belly, as they say. He doesn’t always show it. There are certain times when it kind of comes out.”
And he had good reason this time, Molitor added. “We thought we had Cabrera struck out, and then he got the hit,” Molitor said.
Mostly, the manager was appreciative of Rogers’ two-inning outing. The third-year lefthander has pitched 14 consecutive scoreless innings, a streak that now dates back more than a month, to July 27. And he did it by facing the second through seventh hitters in Cleveland’s powerful batting order.
“To get us six outs, [against ] that lineup, at that stage of the game, that’s a really good outing,” Molitor said.
Kohl Stewart knows he was the problem in the first inning, and he fixed it. He gave up a run in the fifth inning, too, that felt more like baseball randomness.
After somehow surviving an eight-batter, two-run, 36-pitch first inning, Stewart was nearly perfect, retiring 12 of 13 batters until there were two outs in the fifth. But MVP candidate Jose Ramirez singled and Edwin Encarnacion doubled him home, and Stewart’s fourth career start ended abruptly.
“I thought the pitch to Ramirez was really good. It was an inside heater, and it jammed him and he snuck it down the line,” Stewart explained. “The pitch I made to Encarnacion was a cutter away. It looked like it cut off the plate and he didn’t hit the ball well. But it just carried, and hit the wall. It’s frustrating, but I’m happy with the way those pitches were executed. You live and you learn.”
What he learned on Wednesday was, be ready from the first pitch.
“At first, I wasn’t being aggressive” in the first inning, he said. “Once you get pinned against the wall, you have to trust yourself. ‘Let’s go!’ I just started trusting myself. The sinker and the movement came back a little bit, and the ball was diving down.”