From the tenor of the first couple innings, it didn't seem possible that the game would end with the Yankees scoring three runs. That they did so is credit to Cliff Lee eking out six inning after his strenuous start, and the perceptibly improving bullpen. Given how hot the Yankees offense has been of late, and who's starting tomorrow, Lee sticking it out as long he did probably saved the bullpen for the rest of the series.
The problem was that the lineup was hamstrung by injury. Grady Sizemore can't play the field right now because of a sore throwing elbow, so instead of the hot Ryan Garko being in the middle of the order at DH, it was Trevor Crowe hitting at the end of the lineup, playing center field. Eric Wedge could have squeezed Garko into the lineup by playing him in left field, Francisco in center, DeRosa at third, Peralta at short, and Cabrera at second, but that would have brought down the team defense dramatically. I guess we've seen in the past week or so how big an asset having an all-around player in center field is from what's happened when Sizemore hasn't been able to play the field. Trevor Crowe hasn't hit much in his brief major-league career, and Ben Francisco is a big downgrade defensively when he's playing center.
If Rafael Perez's struggles at the beginning of the season seemed to be the trigger of the bullpen implosion, perhaps his return to effectiveness can be the beginning of its rebirth. In the past couple of weeks, the foundation of an effective bullpen has started to show. Matt Herges, who pitched another two scoreless innings tonight, has been incredibly valuable in stabilizing things when they seemed to be spiralling out of control. This week, despite very short stints from the starters, the bullpen has kept the Indians in games.
Next Up: CC Sabathia makes his first start in Cleveland as an opposing player. Fausto Carmona will oppose him. Game time will be 7:05 PM.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Ben Francisco||.178||Kelly Shoppach||-.234|
|Matt Herges||.068||Grady Sizemore||-.151|
|Shin-Soo Choo||.047||Victor Martinez||-.116|