During the relentless schedule each major league team plays, there are certain nights when a team is just going to lose, without any real fanfare or excitement—the team will simply appear totally unprepared to compete that night, confused and bewildered, an indoor soccer team that took a wrong turn and ended up playing the role of Cleveland's Nine. Tonight was certainly one of those nights. The Indians were down 5-0 after just two innings, Carlos Carrasco's night would be over after only four innings and with his exit his string of excellent starts ended at five as well. The young hurler labored to get through his short start, throwing 93 pitches. Bear in mind, as always, that this is a young man who was born in 1987.
That it would not be the Indians night was obvious from the first batter of the game, when Derek Jeter rolled a ball 60 feet up the third baseline for hit number 2,995 for his career. If that wasn't enough of a poor omen, the Yankees managed to load the bases with only one out in the top of the second inning, only to see Francisco Cervelli squander the rally with an easy double play ball to Asdrubal Cabrera. The double play did not materialize, however—Cord Phelps was unable to make a good throw to first and Cervelli beat it out for an RBI groundout. It appears that the Indians have a defensive issue in the infield, specifically at second base—shocking, I know.
Phelps has been bad at second, but so has Orlando Cabrera, and at least Phelps is still learning the position. In the wings is Jason Kipnis, another supposedly raw keystonesman, Jason Donald, a converted shortstop morphing into a utility man, and, umm, wait is this right? Over three seasons, Asdrubal Cabrera played 162 games at second for Cleveland, and I had assumed that would make him the leader on the team for games played at the position—that's wrong, though. Perhaps your instinct is that Orlando, a 15 year veteran and longtime shortstop, has surpassed that number piecemeal over his long career. That's also incorrect, though—OC has played only 105 games at second. So, who is this mystery man who leads Cleveland's 40 man roster in games and innings played at second at the major league level?
It is Luis Valbuena, who has appeared in 164 major league games at the keystone. That is your most experienced Indian at second—perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the team has been a bit raw around the pivot.
There was an obvious silver lining following Phelps' mistake, though. Derek Jeter was coming to bat against a right-handed pitcher. Jeter's line against righties this year is the fearsome .241/.289/.291 and the fact that he's batting leadoff against them is a gift from Joe Girardi to other mangers; in a weird twist on the "two leadoff men" ploy, Carrasco was granted the privilege of facing two number nine hitters in Cervelli and Jeter. Of course, New York's dimming star shorstop plugged a gap for a two RBI double. Curtis Granderson finished the inning off with a two-run homerun (his first of two this evening) and CC Sabathia cruised to an easy victory the rest of the way, striking out eleven before giving way to someone named Lance Pendleton who would tough out the final two innings.
There was no good news tonight. Besides losing, the Indians also potentially lost their best player when Asdrubal Cabrera turned his ankle making a throw to second. The shortstop stayed in the game briefly before taking a seat and he's currently day to day. Getting only a footnote in the bad news section is Chad Durbin, who again pitched poorly. Before this evening, Durbin was moonlighting as a stathead sleeper, scoring relatively well in BP's advanced metrics like Fair Run Average (FRA) and Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA). After giving up another four hits and three runs, I can't imagine he'll be moonlighting as anything besides perhaps some other occupation besides baseball player.
The Indians will try to win their third straight series tomorrow with their best pitcher, Justin Masterson (2.85 ERA, 80 K's), facing off against erstwhile uberprospect Phil Hughes (13.94 ERA, 3 SO), making his first start since April 14 and whose latest appearance was in AA. Also likely to appear tomorrow for the first time since an injury is Indians first baseman, and erstwhile uberprospect himself, Matt LaPorta.
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