Sure, two months into a season is a little early to outright name any player "Most Valuable Player" in the league, but it's time we stop lying to ourselves and just hand the trophy over to the Jerry Sands. Once again the 27-year-old proved that he deserves nothing less than to be considered among the greats in our great game. He has the grit, the toughness, the clutch-asity, and a name that is easily chantable. What more could you ask for?
Picking up right where he left off during his short stint in the Majors in late April, Sands homered in the bottom of the second tonight following a Brandon Moss walk. Thanks to a Nick Swish sac fly in the first, Sands' home run wound up putting the Tribe ahead by three.
Mild exaggerations for comedic effect aside, Sands did look really good tonight, as did the rest of the bottom of the lineup to a lesser extent. Moss, Sands, David Murphy and Jose Ramirez all come away with at least one hit. Sands, as well as the aforementioned home run, also drew a walk from Mariners starter Roenis Elias. For the most part, the Indians offense remained quiet throughout the game however, only coming alive to score four runs then getting completely shut down by the Mariners pitching staff.
While the game looked to be a quiet win for the Indians at times, Shaun Marcum is gonna Marcum and the journeyman pitcher didn't look particularly sharp throughout his start. He didn't look at his worst by any means - we likely saw his worst in his last start against the Texas Rangers - but he only put down three straight batters in one inning. Other than a 1-2-3 fifth frame, it was a struggle for Marcum to get out of an inning and it resulted in Robinson Cano hitting a frozen rope home run off of him in the second inning to keep the game close for the Mariners.
Marcum would eventually leave the game after 5 1/3 innings and only 90 pitches - most likely due to the fact that he had a two left-handed batters (Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison) coming up ahead of him. The move worked in the short term, at least. Marc Rzepcynski worked through two batters, but Zach McAllister coming in to take on the right-handed portion of the lineup didn't go so well.
Heading into the seventh inning, McAllister had Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley and Austin Jackson due up. A trio that doesn't seem that formidable to begin with, but when you allow Miller to double, Ackley to get a hit, and have Jackson reach base on a failed double play attempt, it gets a bit more complicated. McAllister found himself in hot water with Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz coming up back-to-back. He would ultimately work his out of it, but it wasn't pretty. Cano ended up with a hit (his second of the night), but McAllister had to work around the home run machine Nelson Cruz, despite the fact that first base wasn't actually open. However, when the options are pitch to a red-hot Cruz when you yourself aren't throwing at 100%, or move a batter from first to second, I think you take the latter option the majority of the time, even if it results in loading the bases.
Not surprising given the state of perpetual misery that is the Seattle Mariners offense, they ended up leaving the bases loaded and no further damage was done once Nick Hagadone came in to strike out the left-handed Kyle Seager swinging.
The final inning looked shaky to start, with Austin Jackson reaching immediately and Seth Smith almost hitting one in the gap. Luckily, Smith's potential gapper was run down by Murphy, and Cody Allen finished his four-out close of the game by inducing a double play from Cano. With the 4-3 victory, the worst the Tribe can do now is tie the series tomorrow afternoon when they wrap up their series with the Mariners.
Win Expectancy Chart
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|Matt R. Lyons