May 27, 2013
The bullpen again allowed late runs, ruining what again had been a well-played game by the Indians.
Ubaldo Jimenez passed another test today. Last time against Detroit he got knocked around by Detroit, but today he bounced back to throw seven strong innings against one of the NL's best offenses. The Reds rank only behind the Colorado Rockies in runs/game, and Great American Ballpark is one of baseball's best offensive parks, so Jimenez's outing was quite impressive. He allowed the first run of the game to LGFT Shin-Soo Choo to lead off the game, but then kept the Reds off the board until the bottom of the sixth, and if Carlos Santana catches the throw from Drew Stubbs, that second run might not have scored.
The Indians were held in check for the most part by Mike Leake, who pitched into the eighth. In that inning, with the score 2-1 in favor of the Reds, Francona sent Jason Giambi to plate for Jimenez. Giambi had gone 0-for his last 24 at-bats, and hadn't looked very good doing it. But Giambi still has a bit left in the tank, for he crushed a solo homer way over the center field wall to tie the game at 2.
Then came the bottom of the eighth. Choo and possibly Joey Votto were due up that inning, so Francona went with Nick Hagadone, who had just been called up earlier that day. Hagadone got ahead of Choo 0-2, couldn't put him away, and Choo drove a single the other way. Carlos Santana then couldn't catch a tailing fastball, let it get by him, and Choo went to second. Zack Cozart then bunted Choo to third to bring Votto to the plate.
Now I don't like to second-guess managers, but in that situation, don't you have to walk Votto and bring in a right-hander (in this case Bryan Shaw) to pitch to Brandon Phillips? First of all, I don't think anyone's that confident in Hagadone facing anyone right, never mind Votto, and secondly, you could set up a potential double play by walking Votto. But Francona let Hagadone pitch to Votto, and after falling behind in the count, Hagadone let a fastball get too much of the plate. Boom. 4-2 Reds. Shaw did come in after that, and should have retired both of the hitters he faced, but nonchalanted a throw to first on a bunt play, extending the inning. But he did retire Todd Frazier to keep the score 4-2.
Aroldis Chapman retired the Indians in order, but of course things were much more exciting than that. After Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning by striking out, Nick Swisher came to the plate. To the best of my knowledge there has been no previous incident between the two players, as before today's game Swisher had only faced Chapman one other time before, and did not get a hit in that at-bat. The first pitch from Chapman sailed over the catcher's head to the backstop. OK, fine..that pitch got away from him, wasn't that close to Swisher. The next pitch, however, was high, 100 mph, and right at Swisher's head. Swisher turned out the way just in time, and the ball again went to the backstop I give a lot of credit to Swisher for not charging the mound right then and there, because that pitch has no place in baseball whatsoever. The at-bat did continue, with Swisher lining out to the warning track for the second out in the inning. However, I doubt that we've seen the end of it, based on these quotes:
Swish, on Chapman: "That 2nd one was a little too close to comfort. Lets be honest, 100 mph at somebody's head? Not exactly the best thing."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 27, 2013
Giambi on Chapman: "He's a great kid. But we're going to have to protect our guys too. Especially Nick, who's a big leader on this ballclub"— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 27, 2013
The obvious point of reference Indians fans are going to go back to is the Carlos Carrasco pitch against the Yankees that sentenced him to AAA for most of the season. If the umpire was within his rights to toss Carrasco, he certainly had the ability to toss Chapman for that pitch. But he didn't and, didn't warn the benches either. So I think it's a given that something will be done during one of the next three games.
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