Game Twelve: Angels 4, Indians 3 (12 Innings)

Tribe pitching has turned several low-scoring games into wins, covering for some offensive ills. The winning formula up to this point generally has been that the Indians score early, the starter holds that lead, and the bullpen finishes things off. The script was flipped this time, and although the Indians came back late to tie the game, the tie score was extended long enough for the Indians' weakest link to enter the game.

Carlos Carrasco pitched a fantastic game, aside from a three-batter stretch in the fourth inning. Howie Kendrick led that inning off with a double, and Asdrubal Cabrera's unforced error allowed Kendrick to score all the way from second. A quick walk followed, and then Carrasco made a mistake on the middle of the plate to Torii Hunter. An early lead thus quickly became a 3–1 deficit.

Cabrera's error was similar to Milton Bradley's wild throw earlier in the road trip. Kendrick was cruising into second when Asdrubal received the throw from the outfield. Cabrera threw to second base, perhaps intending to catch Kendrick rounding the base, but not only was the throw wild, the person covering the base (Matt LaPorta) was not expecting a throw. With no backup set up, the ball went into the first base dugout, meaning Kendrick could walk home. Two more earned runs scored in the inning, so perhaps Kendrick would have scored anyway. Or maybe Carrasco would have pitched much differently to Abreu and Hunter with a runner at second. Whatever might have followed, it was a dumb throw.

The Indians clawed back into the game over the next several innings. Michael Brantley just missed tying the game in the fifth with a run-scoring double, high off the right-center wall. Shin-Soo Choo drove in the tying run with a grounder that could have been a double play, but because pitcher Scott Downs tipped the ball with his glove, the Angels could only get one out.

That's the way the game stayed until the 12th inning. The first three relievers out of the bullpen (Sipp, Pestano, and Chris Perez) were just about perfect, but Chad Durbin got into trouble in the 12th inning and couldn't get out of it. With one out, he gave up a single to Vernon Wells. Then he made two critical mistakes: walking Alberto Callapso, and throwing a wild pitch to allow both runners to advance. Mark Trumbo was walked to set up a force at any base, but Jeff Mathis got the ball deep enough into the outfield to score the winning run on a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The middle of the Tribe order again was largely silent. Choo, Santana, and Hafner managed one hit and two walks between them; while Hafner has been at times a major offensive contributor, neither Choo nor Santana has done much at the plate in the first 12 games of the season. Though a lot of other things have gone right, these two players must to get on track in order for the Indians to keep winning. 

20110413_indians_angels_0_20110413214016_lbig__medium

via www.fangraphs.com

Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Brantley .433 Durbin -.376
Sipp .190 Hafner -.271
Chris Perez .182 O Cabrera -.242
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