June 22, 2013
Indians 8, Twins 7
This game was a blowout before it was a nail biter. Well, to be accurate, it was 2-0 Twins before it was a blowout before it was a nail biter.
Corey Kluber had much to live up to tonight, as he had thrown 16 shutout innings last week, and was named the AL co-player of the week. But if anyone could deal with sudden success, the stoic Kluber could. As it turned out, by the time his start was done, he had to deal with a lot more real concerns than the weight of the past. Two batters into the game, he served up a two-run homer to Joe Mauer, ending the shutout streak. But he did get things back together, something that you couldn't say about the Twins starter.
P.J. Walters is a member of the Minnesota Twins rotation. He's 28 years old, was once part of the 2011 St. Louis-Toronto mega-trade (Colby Rasmus, Edwin Jackson, Trever Miller, Marc Rzepcynski, et al), but not a very big part of it. He has been a minor-league free agent twice, and has signed minor-league deals with the Minnesota Twins twice. He is the owner of a career 5.71 ERA, a 10.5 H/9 rate.
P.J. Walters is a member of the Minnesota Twins rotation, and it was his turn to pitch tonight. Walters started to shorten his delivery after Michael Bourn reached base in the first inning, and started to through lots of balls, as in non-strikes. He also hit a batter. After he threw many non-strikes, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire removed him in the hopes of bringing in a pitcher who would throw strikes.
After Walters left with two outs in the first inning, the thought that went through my mind is that the Twins would have to completely burn out their bullpen, and that would have an effect on Sunday's game. The Indians would score two more runs after Walters left to make the score 6-2, and it looked like the rout was on. Anthony Swarzak would finish the first inning and pitch through the fourth inning, keeping the Twins in the game. Then Ryan Pressly came in, and started pitching like P.J. Walters, allowing the first four batters of the fifth inning to reach. Before the first out was recorded in the bottom of the fifth, the score was 8-3, and now it seemed like the rout was really on.
Jason Kipnis, who has suddenly vaulted into All-Star consideration, had three more hits tonight, missing hitting for the cycle by a home run. Michael Bourn also had three hits, Carlos Santana added two, and Lonnie Chisenhall chipped in with a double and an infield single.
Meanwhile Corey Kluber pitched into the sixth, making each inning look difficult. He didn't pile up strikeouts like he usually does, only whiffing four in 5.2 innings. He allowed eight hits, including two home runs and two doubles. Nick Hagadone was summoned to soak up some innings, but only soaked up one before Cody Allen came in to clean up a mess in the seventh inning. Then Bryan Shaw was going to calm things down, only he didn't allowing an eighth inning homer to Chris Parmelee and two walks. Then Rich Hill, the bane of every right-thinking Indians fan, came in to clean of Shaw's mess, and wouldn't you know it, he....did?! Yes, Rich Hill pitched better than any other Cleveland relief pitcher tonight, for he struck out the only batters that he faced.
Vinnie Pestano came in to the game to save the game, for that 8-3 lead had whittled down to an 8-5 lead by the Twins. Pestano, as is apparent to all, is not the same pitcher from 2011 and 2012, when he was mowing down batters. It is a touch ironic that when he finally got an extended opportunity to close games, he's not the pitcher that put him in place to get that opportunity. The Indians have just as big a closer problem as the Tigers have right now with Perez still on the DL and Pestano fighting for every out. Pestano did record the save, but not before he gave up two runs and allowing the tying run to get on base.
What of those early-inning cackles of glee on realizing that the Twins bullpen would be burned out? As it turned out, it was the Indians that burned out their bullpen in order to finish off the Twins, while the Twin got through the last 7.1 innings of the game with just three pitchers.
But hey, the Indians won, marking eight wins in their last ten games, continuing the mountain-valley trend that's marked the first half of 2013.
Roll Call (26 Commenters)
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