Or: Better Late Than Never.
The first FanGraph of the year shows a short and sharp downward drop, and then a flat line. If you place your face an inch in front of your monitor and squint, you may be able to see the comeback. The graph is trying to tell us that the 10 runs the Indians scored after the White Sox went ahead 14-0 wasn't worth a hill of beans. That may be true, but how well would you be feeling if Mark Buehrle and the White Sox bullpen had shut the Indians down the rest of the game? Those miniscule bumps in WPA included 14 hits and 10 runs, with Jack Hannahan leading the way. The minor league free agent signing went 3-for-5, including a seventh-inning home run. Carlos Santana also had a fantastic day, hitting a two-run homer three batters after Hannahan's.
Fausto Carmona collected five strikeouts and walked one in his outing, but his location within the strike zone spelled his doom. Carmona had his typical stuff, but because his pitches stayed in the hitting zone, he gave up more fly balls in three innings of work than he would typically in three or four starts. Carmona also gave up the long ball, to both Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin, in the second. After Carmona allowed the first four runners in the fourth to reach, Manny Acta pulled him.
The first reliever out of the bullpen was Justin Germano, who had worked his way back onto the roster after being outrighted last offseason. Germano struggled down the stretch last season, and continue this trend to start 2011. He allowed all three inherited baserunners to score (bringing Carmona's run total to 10) and gave up another four runs on his own. Because the game was still in the fourth, Acta almost had to leave him in, which in retrospect hurt the Indians later in the game.
The rest of the bullpen was more impressive. Frank Herrmann gave up a run in two innings of work but struck out five, and Vinnie Pestano struck out the side in his inning.
But the lead the White Sox had built was just too much to overcome, even though the Indians eventually got within one batter of forcing a save situation in the ninth. New closer Chicago Matt Thornton was warming in the bullpen with Hannahan at the plate, but Hannahan struck out with runners on the corners to end what was, at the end, an entertaining game. Too bad that first half stunk.
Next Up: Chicago, 1:05 PM.