In the second inning of the Tribe's 5-2 win over the Twins on Sunday at Target Field, Puig and Mercado ran into each other while chasing after Willians Astudillo’s fly ball to the right-center field gap. It was a scary moment, but both got up and were deemed fine to stay in the game.
“I’m not going to lie, I was freaking out, because that’s a freight train,” Mercado said of Puig. “But thankfully, we both came out OK.”
Puig held onto the ball, even as he and Mercado fell to the ground, one of several impressive plays in the game, and during the week, for Indians outfielders. Mercado and Greg Allen each took away potential extra-base hits from Luis Arraez on Sunday by tracking balls to the warning track. Additionally, Mercado nabbed Play of the Week honors for his run-saving diving grab in the Tribe's 8-6 win over the White Sox at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
Cleveland’s outfield defense has been steady this season. It ranks fifth in outs above average in the American League. As the Indians make a push for the postseason, when every win is magnified, the flashy plays stand out more. However, according to manager Terry Francona, it’s the ability to make the routine plays that matters most as the Tribe vies for a playoff spot.
“When we play clean games, we generally give ourselves a chance to win a lot better than when we don’t,” Francona said. “Especially playing good teams, you make a mistake, they turn it not into one, but three or four. We found that out with Minnesota, the game we lost [on Saturday]. We don’t want to give teams not just extra outs, but extra opportunities, or an extra 90 feet. … Some guys are able to make spectacular plays, which is good, but if we make all the routine plays, we’ll be OK.”
Zimmer to stay in Triple-A
Triple-A Columbus’ advancement to the Governors’ Cup -- the International League’s championship series -- means that Bradley Zimmer will continue playing with the Clippers for a bit longer. Zimmer, who underwent right shoulder surgery in July 2018, hasn’t played in a Major League game since June 3 of last season.
Francona noted that Zimmer would join the club sooner if they had a need for him, but that’s not the priority right now.
“We want him to play as much as possible,” said Francona, adding that Zimmer would mostly serve as a pinch-runner with Cleveland, rather than getting regular opportunities to bat in game situations.