This is the last series of the season where the Indians will be facing a team that's actually playing for something. Sure, the Tigers could possibly be playing for home-field advantage at the end of the season, but they aren't going to throw Justin Verlander on the last day to do so. I'm talking about clubs who are playing for a spot in the postseason, not just positioning. The Indians are done with the Red Sox and Rays, so their last chance to have an effect on a playoff race are these three games in Texas.
In contrast, the Indians are thinking ahead towards next season, so the way they used their bullpen ultimately affected how the game turned out. Justin Masterson had given up four runs through five innings, having made a lot of pitches. This wasn't too surprising given the lineup and the park, but Masterson also didn't have his command, either. He gave up three home runs on a night where the wind tunnel effect didn't seem to be as bad. But still, the Indians were in the game (down 4-3) when Masterson came out for the sixth inning. He allowed the first two batters to reach, so Manny Acta pulled him for a left-hander. If the Indians were still in the race, he probably would have call on Rafael Perez, but instead he called on Nick Hagadone to come in. With the Indians looking towards next year, and Hagadone presumably a key player on next year's team, it was a good test for the prospect.
Hagadone was facing the bottom of the Texas order, but he couldn't quell the rally. He walked Mitch Moreland, and gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Craig Gentry. And with that, he was pulled in favor of Josh Judy, another reliever that should be a key contributor to next year's club. He retired Ian Kinsler, but gave up a two-run double to Elvis Andrus. And that was the ballgame.
Carlos Santana led the offense with two home runs, each coming from a different side of the plate. He homered off starter Matt Harrison in the fourth inning, and off reliever Mark Lowe in the eighth. Jason Kipnis drove in a run in the fifth with a double.
Zach Putnam, who had just been added the roster, made his major-league debut in the seventh inning, and gave up two runs, one on an Adrian Beltre home run, the other on a Mike Napoli double. Putnam could also contribute next year, so it's also good to get him some major-league experience during these last few weeks of the season.
The other reason why I think we're seeing so many call-ups pitching in relief is because of how many appearances the mainline relievers have made. The bullpen has been the one part of the roster untouched by injury, but that has also meant that all the relief innings have been absorbed by a small number of relievers. The four main setup men (Pestano, Sipp, R. Perez, Smith) are all around 60 innings and 60-65 appearances for the season, so the prudent thing to do is to at least limit their appearances the rest of the season.
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