June 26, 2013
So any passengers on the Scott Kazmir For Bullpen bandwagon? If there were any before tonight's game, they jumped off by the end of the contest. Kazmir for seven innings almost stymied the Baltimore offense, allowing one hit (a Manny Machado double) along with a walk. Scott's throwing error allowed the Orioles to get on the board, but otherwise he was in complete control, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. His fastball was sitting in the mid-90s, and although he only struck out four, he got a lot of weak contact (pop flies, soft grounders) that kept his pitch count low. Through seven innings, he had thrown only 78 pitches, and was in a position to finish what he started. But when he warmed up for the eighth, the back spasms that he'd been fighting most of the game (according to Terry Francona) became too much to pitch through, and Francona pulled him.
The Indians offense to that point consisted of Jason Kipnis' two-run homer in the fourth inning. Kipnis, who going into today's game hitting .288/.368/.502 (after hitting .200/.269/.286 in April), reached base twice tonight, and should have reached a third time had the home plate umpire saw Jason Hammel's pitch hit Jason in the toe. But the rest of the lineup couldn't do much at all, and so when Joe Smith entered the game in the eighth, the Indians only led 2-1.
Joe Smith has had to come into a game because of injury before this season. In the final game of the Boston series, Chris Perez left the game with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, leaving Smith to face an almost impossible situation. This time the situation was more like Smith's typical inning, a start of a frame. But thanks to shoddy defense, Smith could not hold the lead. The first batter of the inning, JJ Hardy, hit a grounder down the third base line. Chisenhall fielded it easily enough, but double-clutched before throwing, and that made the play bang-bang, but Nick Swisher couldn't field the short-hop anyway. That set the stage for the Orioles to tie and eventually take the lead. Smith normally is the most reliable of Cleveland relievers, but tonight he wasn't. So Kazmir's gem, which just a couple of minutes ago, was ongoing, was not only over, but would not even figure in the decision.
Jim Johnson, who had been nearly perfect for the Orioles, was called upon to pitch the ninth. Michael Brantley worked a walk, then scampered to third when Jason Giambi clubbed a double half-way up the wall in left-center. Francona pinch-ran Mike Aviles for Giambi, then pulled Yan Gomes for Carlos Santana, who had been getting the night off. The Orioles then walked Santana to load the bases, setting up a double play possibility. I think the Orioles would have walked Gomes anyway, but with Santana at the plate, any indecision was taken out of the decision. That brought to the plate Lonnie Chisenhall, who has been struggling since his called from Columbus.Lonnie didn't get a hit in that pressure-packed situation, but he did one thing right: he didn't hit the ball very hard. The Orioles tried to turn a double play on his weak grounder, but Chisenhall beat out the relay. The Indians now not only had tied the game, but they had the go-ahead run at third with one out. Now Drew Stubbs came to the plate, a player that strikes out prolifically but also just doesn't ground into double plays. My hopes were that Stubbs would hit the ball on the ground somewhere, or at least put the ball in play. And he did just that, hitting a grounder that would be a double off the bat of most other major-leaguers, but not for him. On two Fielder's Choices, the Indians had taken the lead.
Vinnie Pestano came out to save the game, perhaps the last time in a while he'd have a save opportunity. Chris Perez is due to come off the DL tomorrow, which will bump Vinnie back to a setup role, and tonight Pestano finished off his tenure as closer on a positive note, for he retired the side in order, with the two of the three outs coming via the strikeout. He slidered Chris Davis, then got very lucky when Matt Wieters' line drive was hit right at Kipnis. Then he finished off the team comeback in style by fanning JJ Hardy on a high fastball.
AL Central Standings
Roll Call (47 Commenters)
|7||Mr. Bad Example||38|
|33||new zealand tribe fan||2|
|36||Deep South Ken||2|
|42||Manhattan Tribe Fan||1|