This was not an aesthetically pleasing game of baseball, and I would bet that any non-partisan fan would have changed the channel in disgust by the third inning. The two starters pitched as if they were being paid by the minute, and while their elapsed time on the mound was rather large, their inning totals were anything but. Add in the brutal weather, and it would have been a miserable experience for those at Progressive Field had the Indians not won the game. Please don't get me wrong; the Indian position players and relievers played very well, but the starters totally upset the pace of play.
Josh Tomlin was placed before Mitch Talbot in the Indians rotation, and judging by their initial performances, for good reason. While Tomlin breezed through seven innings, Talbot strained to record each individual out. His pitching line looks pretty good if you ignore the innings, but a pitcher who consistently has to be removed that early will ruin a bullpen.
Thankfully, the Indians got to face a pitcher who was worse than Talbot. Daisuke Matsuzaka somehow stuck around through five innings, and was just a couple of hits away from leaving the game as the winning pitcher of record. He gave up a first-inning two-run homer to Shin-Soo Choo; Matsuzaka apparently didn't watch Choo's long swings the night before, and served up one of his variety of slow breaking pitches.
Boston came back in the second, scoring two runs on one solid single and several well-placed dribblers. Carl Crawford hit the hardest ball of the inning into Jack Hannahan's glove for the third out. The Indians took back the lead in the third on A Cabrera's bloop single, and the score remained so until well after both starters had left. This game would be a contest of bullpen depth.
Boston's Dennys Reyes took over for Matsuzaka in the sixth. The pudgy LOOGY couldn't get near the plate, hitting the first two batters of the inning, then walking Hannahan on four pitches despite Hannahan's squaring up to bunt on the first three. Dan Wheeler was brought in to face Michael Brantley with the bases loaded, an at-bat that would be the hinge of the game. Brantley lined a Wheeler offering right to Kevin Youkilis, but the normally sure-handed fielder dropped the ball. The Boston third baseman picked up the ball and stepped on third, and Boston could have gotten two outs on the play if Jason Varitek hadn't zoned out. When the veteran catcher received the ball from Youkilis, he stepped on the plate as if making a force-out play, making no attempt tag Travis Buck as he crossed the plate. Because Youkilis had stepped on third before throwing home, the play at home was no longer a force-out, turning that second out into an Indians run. Asdrubal Cabrera took full advantage by slamming a three-run homer soon afterward.
Thanks to Talbot's short outing, Manny Acta had to use five relievers, including two just to get out of the fifth. Rafael Perez recorded four outs on just 17 pitches, so he should be available tomorrow. Thanks to Matt LaPorta's late homer, Chris Perez got the night off, but Fausto Carmona needs to at least pitch through six innings so that the bullpen won't be tired out for the weekend series in Seattle.
A side comment: Adrian Gonzalez is a really, really good hitter.
Next Up: 12:05 PM. Lester vs. Carmona.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|R Perez||.148||O Cabrera||-.040|