For the second straight day, the Indians' bullpen had to step in after the third inning, but today, something miraculous happened. The bullpen threw six innings, and gave up four hits and four walks, but no runs. Let that sink in for a while. All four relievers had a positive WPA.
David Huff isn't ready for the big leagues, but given all the injuries, Carl Willis will have to make him a big league starter on the job. Huff strayed too many times into the upper half of the strike zone, and many of those times his pitches got hit hard, with three going out of the park. Joey Votto went deep on him twice, one a line shot to the opposite field, and one a majestic clout three-quarters up the right field bleachers. Huff might have stayed around for another inning or so had the game been played by American League rules, but his spot came up in the top of the fourth, and Eric Wedge elected to pinch-hit for him.
So now what? Jensen Lewis pitched three innings the night before, and wasn't available. Aaron Laffey, the primary long reliever, just went onto the DL the night before. Jeremy Sowers could have been used, as he technically wasn't in the rotation yet, but I doubt that Eric Wedge thought him a good fit in the launching pad otherwise known as Great American Ballpark. So he went first to Greg Aquino, Spring Training afterthought, for two innings. It was very important that Aquino go those two innings, for the pitcher's spot was due up in the top of the sixth. Greg had some trouble in the bottom of the fifth, giving up back-to-back singles with one out, but he got Alex Gonzalez to ground out to end the inning.
Now what? There were four innings left to go, and the offense had tied the game at six in the fifth on a Mark DeRosa two-run single. Thankfully, Homer Bailey was pitching instead of Edinson Volquez, and he looked every bit as lost on the mound as David Huff. Bailey lasted into the fifth, but the two runners he left came around to score the tying runs. The Reds' pitching staff was in much better shape thanks to Bronson Arroyo's eight inning start last night, so manager Dusty Baker could be much more aggressive with his hook. Eric Wedge, on the other hand, had to go with what he had, and so Luis Vizcaino, street free agent, was called upon to pitch two innings, preferably scoreless ones.
Thankfully, thanks to Dusty Baker's double-switches and an injury, the Reds lineup got weaker as the game went on. Luis Vizcaino faced backup infielder Paul Janish with runners on first and second and two out in the seventh. The next inning, Rafael Betancourt with two outs faced, instead of Brandon Phillips, Ryan Hanigan, the backup catcher, for Phillips had injured either his finger or his hand fielding a grounder in the top of the inning. The Indians, thanks to the rather unexpected shutdown pitching from unexpected sources, took the lead in the late innings, itself an unexpected occurrence, on an Asdrubal Cabrera dribbler in the eighth.
The rotation is becoming a big problem, but tonight, the bullpen compensated for a poor start, and allowed the Indians to win a game they by most standards shouldn't have.
Next Up: Lee vs. Cueto, 1:10 PM.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Mark DeRosa||.310||David Huff||-.469|
|Asdrubal Cabrera||.241||Victor Martinez||-.172|
|Kerry Wood||.209||Matt LaPorta||-.085|