July 30, 2013
Scott Kazmir laid a small egg tonight. It looked at first as though he'd be pulled in the second inning, but he did manage to get the Indians through five innings. His final line looked actually almost decent: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB. Of course, he did give up nine hitters, some of which were rockets (first and second innings), some of which were bleeders and bloopers (the sixth inning hits).
The Indians were slated to face Jake Peavy tonight, but he was scratched in case the White Sox traded him before tomorrow's deadline. So the Indians faced instead Andre Rienzo, the first Brazilian pitcher in the major leagues. The 25-year-old pitched well, featuring mainly a high-80s/low-90s fastball and sharp 12-to-6 curve. For the first four innings he mowed through the Tribe hitters with ease, but then a combination of walks, umpire interference, and a misuce at first allowed the Indians to creep back into the game.
The White Sox took the lead in the sixth, but then something rather wonderful happened. The game was taken over by the bottom guys on the 25-man roster:
- Matt Albers, who has been the 7th (or at times 8th) pitcher in the bullpen took over for Scott Kazmir in the sixth inning, and although he allowed one inherited run to score, gave the Indians 2.2 innings of solid work, keeping the team in the game as well as allowing Terry Francona to rest most of his key relievers.
- Drew Stubbs pinch-ran for Carlos Santana in the eighth inning, stole second to put two runners in scoring position for...
- Ryan Raburn. With the Indians down 4-3 with two outs in the eighth (and with Addison Reed looming in the ninth) he drove the ball back up the middle to give the Indians the lead.
- Yan Gomes started at catcher, went 1-for-2 against his fellow countryman Andre Rienzo (who pitched a very good game in his MLB debut), and broke the game upon with a two-run double right after Raburn's go-ahead single.
Now it certainly helped that a combination of trades and injuries meant that the Indians faced Donnie Veal and Matt Lindstrom instead of Jess Crain and Matt Thornton. But still, the Indians took advantage of the opportunity given them.
After the Indians acquired Marc "Scrabble" Rzepczynski, Anthony Castrovince penned a column that not only covered that particular trade, but also the little acquisitions that Chris Antonetti and the Tribe front office has made since last winter. Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, the big free agent signings, have been all right this year, but the complementary pieces, acquired with much less fanfare, have been major contributors to this team's success. The four players mentioned above, Mike Aviles, Jason Giambi (who hit the game-winning home run last night), and Scott Kazmir, all were acquired either in minor deals or as afterthoughts in a major deal (Albers and Stubbs). And just about every one of the minor moves has paid off.
Castrovince's column is that much more appropriate in light of tonight's game, with those minor acquisitions shining in what's turning out to be the beginnings of a pennant race. With both Detroit and Baltimore winning, the Indians needed the come-from-behind victory to remain 2.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central and a half-game behind the Orioles for the last Wild Card spot.