Indians improve to 40-43
After going over two games without scoring a run, all evidence heading into tonight's game pointed to another low or no-scoring game. But for reasons completely unknown to this tired blogger, the Indians ended up winning a rather bizarre game in convincing fashion.
Why call this a bizarre game? Let us count the ways.
- Justin Masterson pitched only into the fourth inning, and wheels were coming off his start from almost the beginning of the game. Masterson was originally scheduled to start Sunday afternoon, but was scratched because of ongoing knee soreness. The extra days of rest did not help Masterson, who again couldn't find the strike zone with regularity. How he ended up only allowing 3 runs is a mystery I'll happily leave unanswered, though the Indians will have to come up with a long-term plan for Masterson, for they simply can't continue to leave him in the rotation looking like this. The knee is obviously affecting what was always a touch-and-go delivery, and I think the Indians almost have to place him on the Disabled List in the hopes that rest will allow him to pitch unhindered at some time after the All-Star Break.
- Josh Beckett, who was in the midst of a very nice season, hit two doubles, but gave up 5 runs to a slumping Tribe offense. The Dodgers, who squandered several golden opportunities early in the game, pinch-hit for Beckett in the bottom of the fifth down 5-3, but the Indians got out of the jam and later tore into the underbelly of the LA bullpen.
- Speaking of missed opportunities, the Indians got out of one of the jams by turning a very unconventional triple play. With runners at first (Yasiel Puig) and third (Dee Gordon), Adrian Gonzalez hit a fly ball to Michael Brantley, who made a perfect throw to nail the speedy Gordon at the plate. After tagging Gordon out, Yan Gomes threw to second, as Puig was trying to take the extra base. Puig was called safe, but Terry Francona challenged the play. The umpires phoned New York, and New York declared that Puig was out. Then Don Mattingly challenged the play at the plate, and the folks in New York declared that the call at the plate was correct. After the two replays, the 7-2-4 triple play was confirmed, and the Indians had somehow wriggled off the hook.
- Terry Francona managed those middle innings like it was the 8th or 9th inning, using both his left-handers before the sixth inning was over. But Francona's manic moves turned out to be the correct ones, as the bullpen finished the game with six shutout innings, giving the club enough of a lull to blow the game open. Scott Atchison in particular really helped settle things down, throwing two scoreless frames after the crazy fifth and sixth innings.
- Thanks to those long first three innings, Vin Scully had plenty of time to share some stories. One of them was about the time he saw Jackie Price at Yankee Stadium in 1946. Price didn't have much of a career with the Indians, but his talents didn't belong in a regulation game. Scully recounted Price throwing a fastball with one hand and a curveball with the one - at the same time. He also remembered Price shagging fly balls in the Yankee Stadium outfield while driving a jeep. And he finished by recounting that Price, instead wearing a belt, wore a pair of snakes to hold his pants up, and the havoc caused when Price's belt snakes escaped to terrorize the team train. UPDATE: Found this short of Price doing his tricks. Do not try these at home.
- Former Tribe closer Chris Perez pitched the ninth for the Dodgers, while former Tribe closer John Axford pitched the bottom of the inning for Cleveland. At the rate both pitchers are performing, neither will be on their respective clubs by the end of July,
- Five Tribe hitters had multiple hits, including David Murphy(!) and Nick Swisher(!!). Lonnie Chisenhall hit his ninth home run in the first inning, while Yan Gomes slugged two doubles on the evening.