This one was frustrating, especially combined with Friday's loss. Carrasco and Masterson combined to throw 14.2 innings, allowing just one earned run, and the Indians lost both games because of four errors, a walk, and a balk.
The Giants are in many ways playing baseball in a similar fashion. Their offense has been among the worst in baseball, but their pitching staff has been among the best. So it was not a surprise that this series would consist of low-scoring games. With these types of contests, though, mistakes can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
Matt Cain and Justin Masterson traded scoreless innings until the bottom of the seventh, and it appeared that San Francisco would make the crucial mistake in the game. Nate Schierholtz plugged the expansive left field gap, and was headed for a stand-up triple when he tripped over his own feet and was tagged out after a rundown. Instead of a runner on third with nobody out, there was nobody on and one out, with the bottom of the order coming up. Masterson made good pitches, but Cord Phelps made horrible defensive plays. He threw wide on a Miguel Tejada grounder; he turned what should have been a semi-routine play into a rather difficult one, and didn't make an accurate throw. After getting Chris Stewart, a light-hitting catcher, to fly out, Matt Cain was allowed to hit since there was just a runner on first with two outs. Cain hit a soft grounder up the middle, a difficult play if a speedster was running, but Phelps could have taken his time with Cain chugging down the first base line. Instead, he tried to backhand the ball, and couldn't glove it. Now there were two on with the top of the order up, and Masterson was taken out to turn Andres Torres around to the right side.
Normally I wouldn't include a walk with an error, but in this I think putting Torres on was just as bad a mistake as the others. Torres had only gotten two hits in 27 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers this season. Yes, it's a small sample size, but with one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball on the mound, you want Torres to have to swing the bat. But Sipp walked him, and the bases were loaded. Still, the batter wasn't much of an offensive threat provided he didn't bunt or chop the ball off the plate. Emmanuel Burriss has a lifetime OPS+ of 64. And he did make the final out of the inning. After Sipp balked, bringing in the only run of the game.
So, to recap: two errors, a walk, and balk, all while facing three horrible position players (Torres as a right-handed hitter, Tejada and Burriss in general) and the pitcher.
Now the Indians had their own share of problems on the offensive end, as to be expected. Even so, everything was set up for them to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. But he couldn't get the ball in the air, instead hitting a sharp grounder right to 3B Pablo Sandoval, who threw home to get the runner from third. After a passed ball again put runners on second and third, Carlos Santana was intentionally walked to get to Grady Sizemore. Now Sizemore has traditionally had problems against left-handers, but I also think Bruce Bochy did it knowing how bad in general Sizemore has been at the plate. And the move paid off, for Sizemore grounded weakly to first to end the threat.
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