April 17, 2013
Chapter 13: Making the most of it
Boston hitters came to the place last night with a plan against Justin Masterson's fastballs. Let me re-phrase; all teams give their hitters a plan to use against a starting pitcher, but this particular plan was executed very well. The plan was to take everything the other way, whether it was up or down, or inside or out. This is how all of Boston's first seven hits were hit..the other way. Six singles and a double in the first two innings, plus a hit by pitch thrown in for good measure. If you compare Masterson's first two innings with Jimenez's first two frames last night, you'd probably think that Justin's outcomes would be at least as worse as Jimenez's. Nope. Masterson did give up three runs, but that was it. He bent as far as you could go without breaking. And in doing so, he gave the Indians a legitimate chance to win the game.
Of particular note is the second inning, when the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out on three singles. Boston was already up 3-0 and about to land a knockout blow. You'd have Corey Kluber in the game shortly*, and if the Indians were lucky it would be a close copy of yesterday's game; if they weren't lucky it would be a copy of the Carrasco/Myers debacle. But Masterson struck out Dustin Pedroia on a slider in the other batter's box, got Mike Napoli to pop out to Mark Reynolds (no thanks to the "fan" trying to catch the ball with his hat), and induced a soft line drive from Daniel Nava.
And the Indians almost did it, though the score might tell you otherwise. In the fifth inning they loaded the bases with two outs. Down now 4-0, an extra-base hit would likely cleared the bases, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit what looked like one. But instead of bouncing up against the right field wall, Shane Victorino (who seriously considered signing with the Indians this past winter) made a fine over-the-shoulder catch to end the threat.
For whatever reason Red Sox manager sent Alfredo Aceves to the mound in the sixth inning. He obviously knows his players much better than I do, but I saw a pitcher who barely got through the last inning and who was running out of gas. But I'm not going to complain; because of Farrell leaving Aceves in, the Indians got on the board. First was a two-run Nick Swisher home run, a no-doubter to right-center. Next was another no-doubter off that bat of Jason Giambi, who showed that he can still hit a meatball with authority. After the Giambi homer, you figured that it was a lock that Aceves would be pulled; both relievers in the bullpen had long-since been warm, and with Mark Reynolds up, there was a very good possibility that the Indians would make it three homers in a row if he were allowed to bat against Aceves. But Farrell allowed Aceves to face Reynolds, and Reynolds smacked a double down the left field line.
Then, finally, Farrell went to his bullpen, and with that all hope of an Indians comeback died. First was Junichi Tazawa, a reliever with not only a rare three-pitch mix, but with complete control of those pitches. The Indians couldn't get Reynolds home from second, and the score remained 5-3. Had Cord Phelps pulled the ball, Lonnie Chisenhall's long fly would have made the score 5-4, and then who knows? But instead Phelps went the other way, so Reynolds was stranded on third base.
With 15 hits against Indians pitching, it's a minor miracle that Boston didn't score 12 runs instead of 6. But that's a rather hollow solace.
*Kluber would come into the game, but only for an inning. After the Indians made the score 5-3, Francona used his regular relievers.