May 5, 2013
Chapter 28:The streak is dead.
This is the baseball without offense.
Corey Kluber could have pitched the same game at any time last week and come out the victor. Walks hurt Corey (or, if your prefer, a very tight strike zone), and the hung breaking ball to Trevor Plouffe (who has always seemingly hurt the Indians). But if the Indians had scored their usual six or seven runs a game, we'd be talking about how Kluber did all right, or how he kept his team in the game, or some such stock phrase. Kluber pitched into the sixth, not quite a "five and fly" performance, but close, but only gave up three runs. That should have been good for at least a no-decision, but today he had the poor luck to be pitching against Mike Pelfrey and a lineup that couldn't solve him.
In next month's draft, the Indians will be looking for someone like Mike Pelfrey. I don't mean today's Pelfrey, but the Pelfrey who was a standout at Wichita State eight years ago. He was (and still is, assuming he didn't shrink) 6'7", the type of size that clubs crave in a starting pitcher. His two-seam fastball had the type of sinking movement that would work at the major-league level, and if he could refine his breaking pitches he had the upside of staff ace. Things didn't quite turn out that way, as a trip to the local Mets blog would surely note in detail, but up until Tommy John surgery he'd been an unspectacular starting pitcher for New York from 2007-2011. The Twins signed him last winter, banking that he'd be recovered from the May 2012 surgery to help the team in 2013. Early returns hadn't been that good, but the Twins have been (and had to be) patient with him.
Well, today the Twins got a Quality Start from Pelfrey; he threw 6 innings, allowing just five base runners (4 hits, 1 walk) and striking out 7. GIven recent history, I'd chalk the outing up more to Pelfrey than to the lineup; after all, the same folks who scored seven runs the night before wouldn't just stop hitting all of a sudden, would they? I sure I might feel different four days from now if the Indians revert to their pre-streak three-run average, but today I'm feeling magnanimous.
Scott Barnes was with the team again today to serve as an extra arm because Vinnie Pestano wasn't available. As luck would have it, there was a perfect opportunity to use him (down 3 runs in the late innings), and he pitched the eighth and ninth innings. Barnes came from the San Francisco organization for Ryan Garko as a 21-year-old pitcher having success in the success as a starter in the hitter-friendly California League, but injuries and a role change has really slowed his progress down; yesterday's appearance was just his 17th in the majors, all of them coming out of the bullpen. He did impress today, striking out four batters in two innings of work. He and Nick Hagadone, if everything works out, should be the clubs' left-handers out of the bullpen for several years to come.
The Indians tried to make a game of it in the ninth inning. Carlos Santana homered off closer Glen Perkins, then Ryan Raburn singled to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of pinch-hitter Mike Aviles. But after a lengthy at-bat, Perkins threw a high fastball that Aviles couldn't catch up to. The streak was over. Tomorrow the Indians try to begin another one against the Oakland Athletics.