June 29, 2013
After that amazing doubleheader sweep, I was totally prepared for the Indians to lay an egg today. Most of their key relievers were either not pitching at all or would be pitching at less than 100%. The Indians came into Chicago in the wee hours of Friday morning, then played eight+ hours of baseball, then had to play a mid-afternoon game. At some point that would show on the field, right?
Well, it didn't today. The Indians again got key contributions from both expected and unexpected sources on their way towards another come-from-behind win in Chicago. The White Sox got on the board early off Ubaldo Jimenez when Tyler Flowers hit one-out double in the second inning. Asdrubal Cabrera (who seems to be hitting like he hadn't missed three weeks) tied the game with a solo homer to open the top of the fourth inning. The White Sox took back the lead with two more runs off Ubaldo Jimenez
Ubaldo was done after five innings, having allowed 3 runs on 9 hits. I realize that this is probably what we're going to get from Ubaldo from here on out, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Yeah, Jimenez's line looks ok, but that he only went five innings against one of the worst offenses in the American League isn't ok. The Indians didn't get burned by his short outing, and they might not get burned next time around, but eventually they will get burned, because handing the ball off to your middle relief every time you make a start is detrimental to the club in the long run. It makes the bullpen pitch more innings, and that's never a good thing. Before today's game, Jimenez left his start on average after 5.1 innings. That means on average, even if the Indians had the lead, the bullpen had to pitch 3.2 innings every time he started. Five Ubaldos in a rotation would destroy a bullpen before the All-Star Break.
Today, though, the bullpen, tired as it was, did the job thanks to some unexpected relief. Joe Martinez was brought up today to help in case the Indians needed middle relief help. Martinez has been Columbus' swingman/longman all season, and has been put in some no-win scenarios, so it was nice to see him rewarded when the Indians needed an arm from AAA. And not only did Martinez get into a game, but he pitched two stellar innings, keeping the game tied in the sixth and the seventh. And by doing that, the run scored in the eighth inning proved to be the go-ahead run.
The run came against someone not prone to giving up runs. Jesse Crain, who will probably be Chicago's biggest trade chip, came into play today not having allowed an earned run since April 12th, a span of 30 appearances. But the Indians broke that scoreless string thanks to three consecutive by three of their main run producers. Asdrubal Cabrera got things started by dumping a single into center field. Then Jason Kipnis, who had tied the game in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer, lined a single to right. Then Nick Swisher, who was the hero last drive, drove a ball up the middle to plate Cabrera and give the Indians their first lead of the game.
After Joe Smith pitched a scoreless eighth, Chris Perez came into the game in the ninth for his first save opportunity since that infamous Sunday in Boston. But this time there was no dramatics, because he retired Rios, Dunn, and Keppinger in order to notch the save and clinch a series win.
Roll Call (31 Commenters)
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