Bruce Chen has pitched for ten major-league teams. That indicates a couple things: one, that he hasn't pitched well for a long time, and two, that he's talented enough for nine different clubs (six since he was released by Cincinnati in 2003) to take a chance on him. He just about used up his tenth life with the Royals after a rather poor 2009 stint (62.1 IP, 5.78 ERA), but got another shot last year due to injuries, and at age 34, seems finally to be matching decent production with his potential. He managed a 101 ERA+ in 2010, the first time he was an average pitcher over at least 100 innings since 2000. It looks like he's cut back his velocity a bit in favor of better command of his pitches, and he kept Indians hitters off-balance through 7 innings. Chen tired in the seventh, and, but got through it thanks to an out at home plate.
Manny Acta emptied his bench to fill the Tribe lineup with right-handed hitters. Not only Grady Sizemore sat, as expected, but also Travis Hafner (in order to get lefty-masher Shelley Duncan in the lineup) and Jack Hannahan. Matt LaPorta also sat, with Carlos Santana playing first base. Chen didn't have a huge left-right split last year, so I'm guessing Acta just took the opportunity that came with facing a southpaw to give all the right-handed bench players a start in the middle of the series.
During the pre-game interview, Manny Acta stressed that Gomez needed his second time through the majors to be able to throw strikes with his slider and changeup. According to Brooks, only 44% of his changeups were for strikes (and very ineffective to boot), and of 87 total pitches thrown, only 6 were for swinging strikes. He was pitching from behind all game, and without any of his pitches working, he had to work hard to get through each of his 4 full innings. He couldn't get through a fifth, and he was pulled after giving up two runs and allowing four base runners in the inning.
The bullpen held the Royals at bay for the rest of the game. Chad Durbin and Justin Germano between them threw 3.2 no-hit innings, allowing the Indians an opportunity to come from behind. But a couple excellent defensive plays stymied the comeback: Lou Marson was thrown out at home to end the seventh, and Alex Gordon made a key diving catch in the top of the ninth. He Gordon not made the catch, the Indians would have later at least tied the game. After Gordon's catch,
Austin Kearns Michael Brantley singled and Asdrubal Cabrera reached after getting hit by a Joakim Soria pitch. Soria then walked Shin-Soo Choo to force in a run, but struck out Carlos Santana on three straight called fastball strikes; Santana was facing Soria for the first time, and either was sitting on something else or had trouble picking up the baseball.
Next Up: Masterson vs. Hochevar, 8:10 PM
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