Let's get this out of the way: Matt LaPorta is pissed. Stole his girlfriend from Younglife camp pissed. Wouldn't let him listen to his DC Talk album after curfew pissed. Teaching evolution in his classroom pissed. Tonight, Matt was 4-4 with 3 HRs, thumbing his nose at Jay, Tony Lastoria, and everyone else who says he was being a petulant child who refused to go on the DL despite being clearly injured, as evidenced by his diminishing power. It appears that wasn't the problem. The problem, I guess, was Jon Nunnally. At any rate, Matt looks healthy and already too good for AAA (SSS notwithstanding) so, godspeed young slugger.
You know, before we get to the fireworks in Cleveland tonight, let's finish out what's happening down below. 2009 draftee Joe Gardner, he of the "heavy fastball", struck out 8 in only 6 IP for Kinston tonight, inducing 7 GBs along the way. Scott Barnes, otherwise known as the detritus of Ryan Garko, returned from the dead to strikeout 10 in 7 IP. Besides LaPorta, Nick Weglarz is staying hot, going 2-4 with a double and Carlos Carrasco brought his best prospect impression tonight, striking out 9 in 8 IP. This was pretty clearly CarCar's best start of the year and it's coinciding with what's been a rough patch for Indians' pitching.
Except for tonight. Justin Masterson dominated his old club tonight and , despite the bloated final score, he had to pitch in a tight game through 8 innings. In the bottom of the 8th inning, though, the Indians cracked it wide open with a team-wide effort, bringing 14 batters to the plate against (soon to be former major leaguers) Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson with the key blow coming in the form of Travis Hafner's first grand slam since May of 2007. It was a 3-0 nailbiter before the 8th and afterwords it was a 11-0 laugher.
For his part, Masterson couldn't have done any better in his faceoff with Clay Buchholz, the pitcher that many, many misinformed Indians' fans thought was on the table during the Victor Martinez negotiations. Masterson was the much better pitcher tonight, allowing only two hits in a 9 inning shutout, recording 17 outs on the ground (3 in the air), striking out 6, and using only 110 pitches. He was totally dominant against a lineup that featured 5 lefthanded batters.
The lesson here, as is often the lesson with baseball, is that you don't have any idea what you're talking about. It's incredibly tempting to pass judgment on all manners of baseball players: young ones, old ones, injured ones, ones with messed up platoon splits, ones who are trying new positions, ones who scuffled in the major leagues after dominating the minor leagues. It's equally tempting to pass judgment on the men who make the decisions about which of these young players go where and do what at what times. There's nothing wrong with giving into that temptation but the next time you want to beat your chest about how Masterson IS A RELIEVER or HAS TO DEVELOP ANOTHER PITCH or whatever your pet theory is, think of this game, or the White Sox game that ended his season last year, and count to ten while swallowing some of the bombast. Because we don't know what we're talking about. We really don't.