Jul 2, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) drops his bat and helmet after striking out in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Bases loaded, nobody out. You're down two runs in the seventh inning, with Jared Weaver on the mound. Up steps to the plate.....
Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman, Shelley Duncan.
You knew going into this game that it would be difficult to win. Jered Weaver starting, with an scorching hot Angels lineup to back him up. The Indians would catch a break when Mike Trout, LA's 20-year-old star, was scratched because of bruised finger, but even so, the lineup that Ubaldo Jimenez faced was still a very potent one. The May Jimenez would probably not have gotten out of the third or fourth inning after throwing 70 pitches, but that Jimenez seems to have gone away. This one pitched into the eighth inning, allowing three runs on eight hits. He walked four, but three of those came in his final inning, and two of those were intentional.
Jimenez gave the Indians a chance to win the game, shutting down a much better lineup than the one the Indians fielded. And the Indians lineup was facing one of the best pitchers in the American League. Jered Weaver's fastball is very pedestrian, especially for a right-handed starter, but that doesn't really matter. Because batters have a difficult time picking up the ball as he delivers it in an unconventional three-quarters crossfire delivery, because he has pinpoint control of all his pitches, and because he'll throw those pitches at any point in a count, he doesn't need a 95-mph fastball. The Indians hit some balls hard off of him, but they only got five hits on the evening. Weaver walked three batters, a high number for him, but the Indians couldn't advantage of it.
Down 2-0 in the seventh, Jason Kipnis led off the inning with a walk, then Michael Brantley hit a single. Carlos Santana then worked a walk of his own, loading the bases with nobody out. Next up was not Travis Hafner, for Hafner's final rehab start was rained out, so he was in Toledo getting one more minor-league game in. Lonnie Chisenhall had just a couple days ago undergone surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm. So the three that would face Weaver with the bases loaded would be Johnny Damon (.207/.286/.338), Casey Kotchman (.224/.282/.336), and Shelley Duncan (.220/.316/.393). Damon grounded out weakly to third (force at home), Kotchman popped up to the catcher, and Duncan struck out. Inning over, threat over, game over.
Jimenez would give up a run in the eighth after Acta retrospect left him in a couple batters too long, but it didn't really matter. The opportunity to win the game, or at least tie it, had already gone.