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Game Sixty-Two: Mariners 8, Indians 7

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Recap
Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Victor Martinez .221
Grady Sizemore .199
Casey Blake .169

Lowest WPA:

Paul Byrd -.317
Ryan Garko -.283
Joe Borowski -.282

Raul Ibanez just about single-handedly beat the Indians last night, driving in five of the Mariners' eight runs. For those wondering, his WPA was .587, extremely high for an offensive player. I checked his splits against AL teams, and his career OPS against the Indians is not his highest (he's better against Detroit), but it seems like it should be. Whatever the case, the plan of attack against him didn't work.

It wasn't just Ibanez who got to Paul Byrd, though. The Cobra gave up 11 hits in 4 innings, and most weren't of the bloop variety. When he left, the Indians were down 7-0, and given who was probably going to replace him, the game seemed over. From a mangerial standpoint, this was the perfect time to bring in Fernando Cabrera and get him a chance to put whatever fixes were made on the side into practice. It turned out that Cabrera's three scoreless innings also allowed the Indians to mount a comeback against a pretty good bullpen. First of all, Cabrera's outing was very encouraging; his velocity was up, his splitter was cartoonish in its break, and probably most importantly, it probably gave him some confidence.

The Indians got to Baek the third time through the order, and chased him in the sixth inning. Mike Hargove used four relievers in the sixth, which almost cost the Mariners later on in the game. The Indians not only scored seven runs in four innings, they had opportunities for more. Ryan Garko left eight runners on base, which is more a function of his struggles at the plate (.138/.242/.241 in June) than his clutchness. Trot Nixon is actually hitting worse, hitting .125/.276/.167 in June. Of course, when the Indians were winning, we didn't care about these things, did we?

The play that really hurt was David Dellucci getting thrown out at the plate in the eighth. There was just one out in the inning, and Dellucci tried to score from first on Casey Blake's double to left. Skinner was probably running on Ibanez's arm, but it turned out that Yunieski Betancourt was the one who made the throw to the plate, and his arm might be the best among AL infielders. Dellucci was out by plenty. Blake got to third base, but now a base hit was needed to take the lead. The Mariners walked Hafner intentionally, then Peralta walked unintentionally. Which brought up Ryan Garko, who was put away with ease by Brandon Morrow.

The meta-question right about now is whether to redistribute playing time between Martinez, Shoppach, and Garko. With six more NL games coming up, it's probably not the time to change much, because Garko will be sitting for most of those games. It must be mentioned that Shoppach's BABIP this season is an unsustainable .500, so his success is partly luck. There's no harm in giving Shoppach a slightly larger piece of the playing time pie, but let's not get carried away with recent history. What does need to happen is for Franklin Gutierrez to give either Dellucci or Nixon more days off, even if it's under the guise of keeping Nixon healthy through the summer months.

Next Up: The Indians relive their recent World Series appearances, starting with Florida. Carmona vs. Olsen, 7:05 PM.