CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 12: Jeanmar Gomez #58 and Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians talks at the mound in the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 12, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It turned out that it didn't matter much that the Indians gave up 5 late runs, but it is concerning that the Indians are having such a time trying to hold late-inning deficits.
Now that Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson are doing better of late, Jeanmar Gomez has inherited the role of weakest rotation link. He gave up at least five runs in the three starts leading up to tonight's outing. And while he managed to get through five innings and only gave up two runs, he struggled to get through five innings; the Reds probably should have scored at least a couple more runs off Gomez. Manny Acta, realizing that if he stuck with Gomez any longer he'd risk having the game get completely out of hand, pulled Gomez after five innings.
Why pull Gomez after five innings and only down 2-1? A couple reasons. First, the bullpen was rested thanks to the off-day on Monday. Second, the Reds bullpen is from top to bottom difficult to score. And third, the Indians weren't doing much of anything against Johnny Cueto. The Cincinnati right-hander gave up a first inning run after Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a double, but after that he was virtually untouchable. After the first inning, he would hold the Indians scoreless on four hits.
Acta first brought in Joe Smith to keep the game where it was. Smith pitched an easy sixth, but after Wilson Valdez hit a bloop single to open the seventh, Smith was pulled in favor of Tony Sipp. Now the Reds have a roster almost the antithesis of the Indians as far as handedness; Votto and Jay Bruce are the only left-handers on the 25-man roster. So Sipp was likely only in for at the very most three batters, or possibly just the one. Acta of late has been trying to use Sipp as a mid-innings matchup left-hander, but in this case, handedness lost badly to ability, for Votto flicked a hanging Sipp slider over the left field fence to give the Reds a 4-1 lead.
So with that hit, whatever thought Acta had of using his front-line relievers went out the window. Jeremy Accardo came in to pitch the eighth, and would get through the inning, but not before allowing three more runs. Accardo was not helped by his defense, with one of the runs scoring on a Choo throwing error (or more accurately, a Chisenhall fielding error). Not coincidentally, the Indians acquired a reliever today, one that's out of options, so someone from the bullpen is likely gone in order to get Esmil Rogers on the active roster.
The Indians wouldn't see the Cincinnati bullpen tonight, for Cueto finished things up himself.