September 2, 2013
Justin Masterson left the game in the second inning, but it really didn't matter in the outcome of this game. Yet again the Tribe offense was helpless, this time against a pitcher mostly known as an innings-eater.
The Indians were interested in Bud Norris at the trade deadline back when it appeared they needed starting pitching help. As it turned out, the Indians didn't really need Norris or someone of his ilk, but they did need hitters to hit Norris or someone of his ilk. Norris cruised through seven innings, allowing one run (a Jason Kipnis home run) on just four hits. He also struck out eight batters just to add insult to injury.
As mentioned earlier on the site, Justin Masterson left in the second inning after a couple visits from the trainer. Masterson convinced Francona and the training staff that he was ok after the first visit, but after throwing several high-80s "fastballs", Carlos Santana called the training staff out and that was that. If you've watched Masterson at all, you'll know that a high-80s fastball is indicative of something very wrong, and although you appreciate Justin's willingness to try to help the team win, he wasn't going to be effective with that kind of stuff. The initial description of the injury was "rib cage soreness," which usually means some kind of muscle pull, and that usually means a month-long DL stint. So if it is a muscle pull, Masterson's season is likely over. Not that that really matters given how this team is hitting.
Terry Francona tried to buy some innings with the raft of pitchers recalled from Columbus. First out of the bullpen was Preston Guilmet, who had had an outstanding season as Columbus's closer, but this point that dominance hasn't translated to the big leagues. He was brought into a big spot, with the Indians fighting for a playoff spot, and he didn't deliver. He would allow two hits, a walk, and a fielder's choice that would have been a base hit had Nick Markakis touched third on his to third. The big blow of the inning was Brian Roberts' two-run double, which came on an 0-2 pitch. Or you could say that the big blow came when Guilmet walked Alexi Casilla with two outs to get to Roberts. Regardless, the Indians now trailed 3-0 with their ace injured. And given how the offense had performed since the end of the July, that lead look rather large even taking into account Baltimore's weak bullpen.
The Columbus train continued with Nick Hagadone in the third inning. In that inning Hagadone showed why the Indians have given him so many chances: he struck out Chris Davis and Matt Wieters as part of a 1-2-3 inning. In the fourth inning he showed why the Indians have optioned him to Columbus four times this season: he gave up a two-run home run to Nate McLouth.
By the end of the game Francona would use eight pitchers, including Blake Wood (Indians debut) and Clay Rapada (Indians debut). But it was Scrabble, one of the mainstays of the bullpen, that gave up the final blow, a Mat Wieters two-run homer in the ninth inning. The Indians had in the top of the inning cut the deficit to 5-2 on Lonnie Chisenhall's solo home run, and that meant Jim Johnson in the ninth inning. For the most part Johnson has been good, but there's also been games in which he's been awful. Perhaps the Indians would have gotten the awful Johnson, but they never got the chance to find out.
I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the Indians need to win the next two games or their season is over. There are now two teams (Baltimore and New York) between them and the second wild card leader. Although the schedule gets easier starting on Friday, that isn't going to matter if they fall much further behind.
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