Thursday, July 31

Tribe and Tigers Split Series (which is a horrible post title)

The Tigers came into this series 6.5 games back of the White Sox. You have to imagine a team like the Tigers were hoping to make up some ground during a four-game series against the cellar-dwelling Indians. Well, they did. As I write this, the Tigers are now only 6.0 games back of the White Sox, but I can’t imagine they’re happy with only half a game. The Indians at home this season are 29-26 and on the road are 18-34, tied with five NL teams for the least number of road wins. So maybe the Tigers aren’t happy, but splitting with the Indians in Cleveland might be all the Tigers should have expected, and watching this series this is one the Indians probably should have won.

Now at this point in a season, following a team with a 47-60 record means losses shouldn’t hurt as much as if the team was even near contention. This of course is true if you are not my father, who would complain as much about the Indians 100th defeat as he would their 5th. But of course, all of this is only true if it didn’t feel like the Indians gave the game away. This is often the case with an underperforming bullpen and an offense that occasionally hiccups. Anyway you look at it this was an interesting series.

Monday’s opener saw The Cobra take the mound. Facing Kenny Rogers, who actually sports a winning record, this looked like an interesting matchup given Byrd’s 4-10 record coming in. However of late Byrd has pitched well and tonight was no exception to that. Byrd left the game having gone 7.2 innings and allowing four hits while striking out four. Byrd only allowed threebase runners into scoring position all night. The offense was nice enough to help out too to the tune of five runs. The triumvirate of Cabrera, Peralta, and Shoppach provided the power. Shoppach had a home run, his ninth, and Cabrera hit only his second of the year. Mujica pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings and the Tribe won the first game of the series 5-0.

Tuesday’s tilt was a little different. Ginter pitched a little more like you would have expected him to, going only four innings and leaving with four earned runs. This, unfortunately, means the bullpen has to pick up five innings, which isn’t what this bullpen does well. What it does do well is frustrate me but there isn’t a stat for that (yet). Needless to say, the Tribe dropped this one 5-8. You hate to see a game where the Tribe scores five runs and still don’t get the win. Just to point out how horrible a game this was the Tigers managed to leave 20 on base, but not to be outdone the Tribe posted 21 LOB. Truly amazing and disappointing but we have worse things to discuss.

Wednesday, if you follow the Tribe at all, you already know was long and didn’t end pleasantly. Kind of like Dr. Zhivago for me - oh wait, no one under 60 watches that Patriot that was long, right? Anyway, the Tribe lost 12-14 in 13 innings and I wish I could leave it at that, but there are more things in this game than just the final score. Unfortunately most of them will make you mad. The starter for the Tribe was Cliff Lee, a man I cannot in print refer to as just Lee. Cliff posted a five inning start with six runs earned. Yes, a very 2007-like Cliff Lee performance. This led to the bullpen to be called on for four innings. However while Lewis and Perez held down the fort on a lead, Mujica, who has pitched almost lights-out of late came crashing back to this plane of reality, giving up four runs in 0.2 innings. Unfortunately that was followed by Kobayashi who gave up a run to stretch the game into extra innings. Oh wait, the Indians' offense scored a run to do that - Kobayashi was trying to get home at a decent hour. The game finally ended with the loss going to Rincon who pitched one scoreless inning but once you see Rincon out there for a second inning you have to know you’re going home soon. But it doesn’t end there. The Tribe committed no less than four errors. I’ll repeat that: four errors! And the Tribe posted an amazing 30 left on base, thir-ty. I won’t even get into the wasted offense, except for Kelly Shoppach’s five for six night. While nice enough as is, Shoppach’s five hits were all extra base hits, like the anti-Ichiro. Three doubles and two round trippers resulted in a shockingly low 3 RBI. This is a rare feat in sport and I’m told that’s more extra base hits than Victor Martinez had in his final 34 at bats before heading for the DL. Should the Indians have won this game? Yes, but with a bad starting pitching effort, so many errors, so many left on base, and such a rough bullpen outing I don’t think they deserved to.

Today’s game was the second start for Carmona since he was sidelined for almost a month with a sore hip. In his first outing he was dreadful. Today he did not disappoint, going 6.1 innings and giving up two runs. The Indians were at it again, scoring nine runs. It’s amazing how nice it is to see another team’s weaknesses exploited. Justin Verlander was dealing today for about 5 innings until the wheels came off. First he hit Sal Fasano, then he issued a walk to Cabrera, and then he threw a ball low and inside that Grady promptly deposited into the Tigers bullpen cracking this one open for the Tribe to take a 4-1 lead. Offensively you should be surprised by Fasano going two for three with 2 RBI and he is now hitting .320. Cleveland committed another three errors and should have been called on one more. The Indians only lost two balls into the sun today so that didn’t help either. I’m wondering if the fact that the first pitch of this game and the last pitch of Wednesday’s game were less than 12 hours apart had anything to do with it.

So the Tribe really should have taken three. The Tigers were less than impressive unless you consider what their offense has done to Tribe pitching for most of this year.

The phrase “best backup catcher in the majors traded for a guy named Coco” gets tossed around a lot these days, but I feel safe saying it about Kelly Shoppach. Except for the zero hits he put up Tuesday he has been hot, to say the least. Don’t expect to see Victor play back to back days a lot on his return and don’t expect him to play even more than half of those game at catcher. Kelly Shoppach is shown he has what it takes to be this team’s everyday catcher and I’m at least excited about that.

The Indians headed north today and are probably already in the land of 10,000 lakes as I type this. The Twins are 1.5 games back of the White Sox and are playing them right now 9:32 PM, with the ChiSox up 2-0.

Game 1: Jeremy Sowers, LHP (1-5, 5.86) vs. Nick Blackburn, RHP (7-6, 3.69)
Game 2: Paul Byrd, RHP (5-10, 4.93) vs. Kevin Slowey, RHP (7-7, 4.00)
Game 3: Matt Ginter, RHP (1-2, 4.20) vs. Glen Perkins, LHP (8-3, 4.20)

This isn't what I would call the heart of the Indians rotatation. However both Sowers and Byrd have improved over their last few starts but Ginter over Perkins is a tough sell. However if this team can continue to find some form of an offensive groove maybe they can start working on that horrible road record. By the way Ben made that catch at the top of this post today - amazing.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)


Andy said...

I was at Wednesday's game but left after 11 innings because I had to get up the next day. Ridiculous. The Tribe loaded the bases in the 9th, again in the 10th, and then in the 12th WITH NOBODY OUT and didn't get a run out of any of them. They didn't deserve to win that game.

Where are you getting these weird LOB numbers? No one leaves 21 guys on base in a 9-inning game - that's leaving the bases loaded 3 times and leaving 2 men on the other 6. The Indians didn't even have 21 baserunners. The actual LOB totals for Tuesday were Cleveland 8, Detroit 6. Both teams stranded 14 runners on Wednesday.

JHH said...

While maybe not what you imagine immediately for the definition of left on base let's say you have the bases loaded and no one out. Scoring no one would result in 9 left on base. Each batter stranded three runners. While inflated I think it better represents scoring opportunity.

Of course I'm not the biggest fan of statistics but there you have it.

Andy said...

GameCast keeps it that way, I've noticed. Eh.

Figgs said...

Ryan Garko pretty much got his red tag in Shoppach's 5-for-6 game. This guy is our everyday catcher, plain and simple. When healthy, Martinez has to be in the lineup, putting him at first base. That leaves Garko battling Hafner (if he ever comes back) and other outfielders for the DH spot. Sorry Rhyno, I don't think that .240 average and 8 homers are gonna cut it.