May 25, 2013
Going into the bottom of the eighth, this game appeared to have the hallmark of a tense Chris Perez save opportunity. After all, Vinnie Pestano would quickly retire the bottom of the Boston order, leaving Perez to deal with the top and middle of the order in the ninth. I know that in baseball you never assume anything, but Pestano's track record over the last couple seasons has been great. Vinnie has been one of the best relievers in the game since his first full season in the majors, so even after spending some time on the DL, even after giving up a home run on Monday, you just expected him to do his usual thing.
But today those assumptions were wrong, because Pestano wasn't throwing his fastball by hitters, which opens up the question of whether he's really healthy. The Red Sox hit three doubles (no, I'm not counting the "double" that Asdrubal Cabrera let drop beside him) off the Green Monster to tie and then pull ahead of the Indians, a couple of which were on high-80s fastball, and one that was off a hung slider. Pestano has never had a mid-90s fastball, but not only were his fastballs a couple mph slower than before, they didn't have the movement that you usually see from them. Let me put it this way: the best way to judge a pitcher's stuff is how hitters react to it, and judging by the Red Sox hitters' reactions, Pestano's stuff was mediocre.
So instead of a chance to win a hard-fought road victory in tough conditions, the game turned anti-climactic, with Andrew Bailey closing out the Indians in the ninth with a three-run lead. The Indians had been either ahead or tied all day, battling most of the time against Jon Lester, who had dominated them earlier in the season. The Indians will not face Clay Buccholz this series, so this matchup was on paper the toughest of the four for Cleveland.
Scott Kazmir started for the Indians and managed to negotiate himself through five innings, leaving with a 3-2 lead.Kazmir struggled to throw strikes (something that he's always had to do, even in his younger days), but he kept the Red Sox from having that big inning. Meanwhile, the Indians scored three early runs thanks to a Nick Swisher double, and Asdrubal Cabrera double, and a Carlos Santana single, with the latter two RBI hits happening in the third inning. In between the Cabrera double and Santana single, Nick Swisher singled to left, and third base coach Brad Mills with one out sent Cabrera home, but Johnny Gomes made a strong throw to nab Cabrera at the plate in a bang-bang. The Indians would score again before the inning was over, but looking back on things you wonder how big the inning would have been had Cabrera been held at third.
The Red Sox tied the game in the sixth off reliever Bryan Shaw thanks to unlikely contributions from the their bottom of the order. Jose Iglesias singled when Ryan Raburn couldn't make a diving a catch in right field, and Pedro Ciriaco not only got a bunt base hit, but advanced (along with Iglesias) a base when Reynolds' throw sailed wide of first base. In both plays the Indians were burned by having a sub-standard fielder at a position, though admittedly both plays were difficult to make.
The Indians pulled ahead in the seventh when two Jon Lester uncorked a wild pitch with two outs in the inning. The Indians had gotten two batters on with with one out via consecutive singles by Aviles and Cabrera, but when Nick Swisher's line drive ended up in Ciriaco's glove, you figured the rally would fizzle. Mark Reynolds, who was at the plate when the wild pitch was thrown, would ultimately strike out, but by then the Indians had re-taken the lead with their top three relievers set up to throw the final three innings. Joe Smith did his job, but not Pestano, so Chris Perez was not needed.
After the game, Pestano talked about his stuff to Jordan Bastian:
RHP Vinnie Pestano said his elbow felt fine. Believes decreased velo (87-90 vs. BOS) is result of DL down time with no throwing.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 25, 2013
Pestano: "I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm throwing 87-mph fastballs right now. That's something we've got to address."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 25, 2013
I hope that's all it is.
Roll Call (30 Commenters)
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