May 22, 2013
Chapter 45: Washed away
The Indians ended their series with Detroit in first place, but only because they started the two-game set 2.5 games up, and it's impossible to lose more than two games in the standings in two head-to-head matchups. In the first game you just tipped your hat to Max Scherzer because he pitched great, and you had hopes for Corey Kluber because he pitched well against a tough lineup. But this game left a different type of taste in your mouth.
Ubaldo Jimenez has been one of the symbols of this hot streak. Before the Royals series, we were talking of taking him out of the rotation or just plain releasing him, but then he started to pitch like a good pitcher again. That more than any other development got you excited, because Ubaldo turning back into a good pitcher could make this starting rotation a viable one all season. But last night's performance (against admittedly one of the best lineups in baseball) brought back the possibility that maybe the last four starts were just a temporary mirage, and that this was Ubaldo's true form. You know, kind of like the end boss in an old RPG - take enough hit points out of it, and it turns from something ok to look at into something truly hideous. This was just one start though, so perhaps Mickey Callaway can spot something easily fixed for next time out (against Cincinnati, who also has a very good lineup).
This game wouldn't be half so frustrating if Verlander had just dispatched the Tribe offense like Scherzer did the night before. But I suppose if that happened this recap would be more depressing than frustrating, and I suppose if I had the choice, I'll choose frustrating. Once again the Indians really made a pitcher work, though they didn't land the knockout blow, only scoring two runs in the first inning despite making the Tigers' ace throw over 60 pitches. It wasn't until the fifth inning, just before the first rain delay, that the Indians really started to tee off on him. The first three batters of the inning got hits, including a Michael Brantley double and a Carlos Santana two-run homer. Just after the homer the umpires called the grounds crew out, as it had begun to rain very hard.
Unfortunately all this offensive activity had happened just after the Tigers had seemingly put the game away. Ubaldo Jimenez was pulled after four innings, having given up six runs. And Terry Francona tried again to have David Huff buy the Indians some time to mount a comeback. Well, instead of doing that, Huff allowed three runs, and looked even worse than the line score indicated. One of the outs he recorded was a caught stealing in which the third run of the inning scored. His outing ended with the Indians being down 9-2, and it looked like only a rainout would prevent a loss.
As mentioned above, when the rain came the Indians had scored a quick three runs, cutting the deficit to 9-5. Just think how the game would have gone had someone else pitched the top of the fifth. The delay lasted just over an hour, but despite that, Just Verlander came out to pitch after the delay in a quest to finish the inning so that he'd qualify for a win. I'm surprised that Jim Leyland allowed that to happen given (a) how important he is to the Tigers this season and (b) how long he's under contract. But that's not for us to worry about. He quickly retired Reynolds and Raburn to finally finish the fifth inning.
The Indians made it a game by scoring another two runs off Drew Smyly, and might have scored more if Jason Giambi had took advantage of big mistake pitch in his at-bat. Giambi, after starting the season well, has really fallen off despite getting regular playing time. He's now hitting .161/.258/.321, and that's in 66 Plate Appearances. The Indians won't need to put him in the lineup much with Nick Swisher back with the club tonight, but you start to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of Giambi's playing career.
The Tigers would score two more runs in the eighth on a bizarre play. Michael Bourn, who made several fantastic defensive plays on the night, went back to the fence on a Miguel Cabrera long drive, reached up to catch it, but in the process of reaching up the ball bounced upwards off the heel of his glove and over the fence. This wasn't a case where the ball was going to go over the fence regardless of what Bourn did, because if Bourn hadn't touched it the ball would have hit about half-way up the fence. That gift home run made the score 11-7, and after yet another rain delay, that's the way the game ended.
Roll Call (50 Commenters)
|10||Mr. Bad Example||29|
|21||VA tribe fan||13|
|27||Ted Washington's Belly||9|
|31||Full Bred Dawg||6|