Game Fifty-One: Indians 8, Red Sox 4

Recap
Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Grady Sizemore .206
Travis Hafner .157
Tom Mastny .156

Lowest WPA:

Trot Nixon -.117
Paul Byrd -.090
Jhonny Peralta -.080

The Indians diced Matsuzaka, getting 12 hits off him, 5 of them for extra bases. All 6 of the runs he allowed came in his final two innings, but he was hittable all night; the Indians loaded the bases in the first inning, but a Trot Nixon double play quickly extinguished the threat.

Even with the offensive outburst and a very good outing by Paul Byrd, the game's most important juncture came in the seventh inning. Boston loaded the bases with nobody out, chasing Paul Byrd. Tom Mastny, and later Aaron Fultz, were summoned to try to extricate the Indians from this difficult situation, and they did just that. Mastny induced a popup from Coco Crisp that Casey Blake made a nice catch on, and he struck out Kevin Youkilis, Boston's hottest hitter. After those two outs, Eric Wedge brought in Aaron Fultz to face David Ortiz. Given Fultz's last two outings with the bases loaded, I certainly didn't have much confidence in the move, especially given how well Mastny was pitching. But after an intense at-bat, including a loud foul ball, Fultz got Ortiz to hit a soft liner to third, ending the threat and essentially giving the Indians the win. In this case, the (hypothetical) save happened in the seventh, not the ninth.

Roberto Hernandez is dangerously close to being released. He's still throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, but he's missing his spots with regularity. He's given up runs in his last four games, and the last thing the Indians need right now is another unusable reliever. The Indians aren't going to go with 13 pitchers, especially with road Interleague games around the corner, and someone's going to have to go if they want to keep Rafael Perez on the roster. Fernando Cabrera, for all his struggles, is too talented to give up on now, so that leaves Hernandez and Mike Koplove. Both will probably be gone by the end of June, especially if Matt Miller stays healthy. But the order in which it happens is still up in the air. If the Indians bring back an outfielder for the Detroit series (they face Mike Maroth on Friday), they aren't going to want to weaken their already thin bullpen to do so. So I'd guess Hernandez is gone either today or tomorrow. Mike Koplove probably will get a reprieve because he has been good against right-handers, something the Tigers have a lot of.

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