Shelley Duncan met his BPFF tonight. Duncan loves fastballs, loves left-handers, and loves a pitcher who lives high in the strike zone. Scott Kazmir fits that description to a tee, so Manny Acta put Duncan into the lineup, and that hunch was rewarded. Duncan drove in all four runs, three of them via the home run. Unless you have a team full of all-around stars, a manager is always going to have to strive to place his flawed players in the best possible position to capitalize on their strengths and, at the same time, make sure those flaws aren't exploited by the other team. In this case, Duncan started the game in left field, got his 3 at-bats against Kazmir, and, as the Indians were leading in the seventh inning, pulled Duncan for a better defensive left fielder.
Now that last move almost backfired, as Duncan's spot came up in the seventh inning with runners on first and second, with the Indians' 4-1 lead now reduced to 4-3. Crowe hit a bouncer that should have resulted in one out, but Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick tried to make too much of the play, attempting to tag out Shin-Soo Choo as the beginning of the double; instead, he missed Choo and didn't get any outs. Travis Hafner would later ground into a double play, short-circuiting the inning anyway.
Duncan was also part of a scintillating defensive play in the sixth. With two out in the inning and Torii Hunter at first base, Hideki Matsui lined a double past Duncan in left field. The ball hit the wall, Duncan bare-handed it and threw it in the general direction of Asdrubal Cabrera, the cutoff man. Cabrera fielded the short-hop, turned, and threw to the plate. Lou Marson fielded the relay on the short-hop with aplomb, turning to make the tag just as Hunter reached the plate. That last turn enabled Marson to hold onto the ball as Hunter ran him over. Even with the two less-than-perfect throws, the play turned out beautifully.
Josh Tomlin continued his run of competent starts. In his second straight start against the Angels, he went 6.2 innings, gave up three runs on four strikeouts and one walk. On a staff that piles up the walks, Tomlin is a breath of fresh air; he's walked 14 batters in 53.2 innings pitched now, a BB/9 ratio of just over 2.0.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Shelley Duncan||.357||Travis Hafner||-.119|
|Chris Perez||.165||Luis Valbuena||-.085|
|Rafael Perez||.136||Asdrubal Cabrera||-.076|