Friday, August 15

Two Up, Two Down

Weekday series are not my friend.

After starting strong by winning the first two games of the series and running their winning streak to five games, the Tribe offense and bullpen reminded us again what 2008 has been all about for this team and dropped the last two matchups. There are some silver linings in this series but at home, hosting the Orioles, we should have had a better result than a series split.

Monday's matchup started with Carmona taking the mound. Carmona's struggles continued, going 6.1 innings but giving up seven runs. He was doing OK until the seventh inning. Maybe Carmona isn't ready to go seven innings, given his month off, but you can't blame Wedge for sending him out there given the relief options. Up to this point you're thinking this sounds like a loss for the Tribe. Mujica comes in and gives up a run in the process of getting tagged with a blown save, but the bats come alive in the bottom of the seventh and eight also giving Mujica the win. Brendan Donnelly made his Indians debut in eighth and gave up one hit, one walk, and struck out as many. Lewis was called in for the ninth just because that's what he does now. Despite my preference to start all game reviews with the pitching summary the Tribe offense is the real story to this game: 13 runs on 13 hits isn't too shabby. Go Tribe Batsmen! Anyway the much shorter list of those without runs batted in (RBI) are Marte, Choo, and Peralta. Home runs were provided by Cabrera, Francisco, and Gonzalez. It was nice to beat up someone else's bullpen for a change wasn't it? Tribe win 13-8.

Sowers took to the mound for the Tribe for game two of the series. If I told you Sowers picked up win number two on the year would you believe me? Well you shouldn't. Sowers went 6.1 just like Carmona but Sowers only gave up four runs. Masa "Tired Arm" Kobayashi came in to pitch his 0.0 innings and give up a run. Perez follows and goes 1.2 innings and picks up his fifth (fif!) blown save of the year. However just like Mujica the night before, Perez is the recipient of some Tribe offense in the bottom of the eighth and also picks up the win, number two on the year (one more than Mr. Sowers). Jensen Lewis closes out the ninth for career save number two. The Tribe posted seven runs batted in by seven different players. Sizemore was the only player to not contribute a run either by scoring it or batting it in. While I'll let this one slide I think Grady is on thin ice with this club and the people of Greater Cleveland. Tribe win 7-5.

Well with the wins of this series out of the way let's review those losses! Tony Reyes, or Ray-Ray, started Wednesday's battle royale at Progressive Field. Reyes went 6.0 innings only giving up two runs. Another fine outing against a team whose offense the Indians had yet to shut down. However the Orioles would not be denied. After two scoreless Betancourt innings, nice, Donnelly spoils it for the rest of us. Donnelly was tagged for four runs in 0.2 innings. Rincon is brought in to help the Indians through the ninth with his 0.1 inning scoreless effort. Offensively the Indians were baffled by former Wahoo Jeremy Guthrie and the Orioles staff, scoring a run on five hits. Sizemore drove in Marte for the sum of our offensive output. Tribe lose 6-1.

Last night's game featured the Indians debut of Zach Jackson, he of the CC (historically accurate) trade. Jackson went five, giving up three runs on eight hits. No too bad but as we've discussed before asking this pen to go four innings is a lot. Rincon pitched two scoreless, which I think may put him half to becoming a saint. Perez comes in to the eight and. . .promptly gives up three runs and gets no one out. Not to be outdone, Mujica gets three outs but gives up four runs in the process of also walking three. Kobayashi some how makes it through the ninth without giving up a run, maybe the Orioles got tired of running the bases. On the other side of the plate the Indians did score six runs. Half of those coming in the bottom of the ninth, which I imagine like 5000 people saw. The Indians did commit two errors thanks to Cabrera and Gonzalez. Jhonny was HBP and left the game later for x-rays, NO!, which turned out negative, thank you. Tribe lose 11-6.

The Indians won two games of this series on "good enough" relief and "thank goodness" offense that never let up. The last two games feature the bullpen once again pulling out the gas can and a offense that in the first game didn't know what to do with a bat or during the second couldn't climb that 11 run mount the Orioles posted. The upside of those losses were the starts of Reyes and Jackson. While Jackson isn't quite ready, Reyes had another quality start. Unfortunately there isn't any good news out of the bullpen.

The Indians now face one of the best teams in baseball in the Angels.

Game 1: Jered Weaver, RHP (10-9, 4.51) vs. Cliff Lee, LHP (16-2, 2.45)
Game 2: John Lackey, RHP (9-2, 3.15) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (5-4, 4.91)
Game 3: Joe Saunders, LHP (14-5, 3.07) vs. Jeremy Sowers, LHP (1-6, 5.70)

On paper this is a series I still think we can win. Of course looking at the numbers and after these last two games I'm hard pressed to see any hope past Lee. Luckily for the Indians Victor and Hafner have been making progress, not that they're the answer to our prayers, but to think how long the Indians have played without those two is amazing. Also on the good news side of things is that Monday is a home off day for the Tribe as they welcome the Royals to Cleveland to continue the battle for fourth place in the American League Central Tuesday.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Andy said...

I was at that fiasco last night with Bucko. It was a pretty good ballgame until it was...a pretty bad ballgame.

I don't think you're hard enough on the bullpen calling them "good enough" in the first two games. Mujica took exactly one batter to hand back a 3-run lead in game 1 and Perez and Kobayashi quickly coughed up a 2-run lead in game #2. They blew every game in that series.

The Angels are good but they're also almost impossibly lucky, as I wrote a while back. They are TWELVE GAMES above their 3rd-order Pythagorean pace, while the Indians are a not-insignificant six back. In other words, we should only be a few games behind the Halos (instead of 20.5). Interestingly, we're slightly ahead of the Twins in 3rd-order and just 7 back of the White Socks. Bad luck and a bad bullpen, my friends.

JHH said...

Yes, I concede that the pen did almost everything it its power to lose these games. With Perez even pitching horribly one game I can only imagine being associated with this bullpen is tough for the organization, rest of the team, and management.

I guess "good enough" is too kind, "like it should be taken behind the barn and shot" maybe more accurate.

Andy you picked a horrible game to attend. . . (in Samir voice) horrible.

JHH said...

One more thing.

Why is Masa out there on a blowout? He's probably already tired why put him out there?

Why is Donnelly shaking off Shoppach, so he can groove a fastball?

Baseball, soccer, and a number of other events (some involving horses) have no business in the Olympics.