2013 Spring Training Games 3 & 4: Tribe wins two!
On a wind-whipped Sunday in Arizona, the Cleveland Indians team parted ways to battle in a split-squad effort against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear and the Milwaukee Brewers on the road at Maryvale Ballpark. Bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. led the effort against the Reds while manager Terry Francona was at the helm against Milwaukee.
Also today, between the two games, Cleveland got their first look at newly acquired pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Scott Kazmir and Trevor Bauer.
Indians Lineup vs. Reds (2/24/2013):
- Stubbs – RF
- Carson – RF
- Cabrera – SS
- Diaz – SS
- Kipnis – 2B
- Rodriguez – 2B
- Swisher – 1B
- McGuinness – 1B
- Reynolds – DH
- Bradley – DH
- Chisenhall – 3B
- Urshela – 3B
- Gomes – C
- Santos – C
- Francisco – LF
- Moncrief – LF
- Hunter – CF
Indians Pitching vs. Reds (2/24/2013):
- Gil (W, 1-0)
- House (H, 1)
- Guilmet (S, 1)
Tribe pitching, which had given up 20 runs in the two previous games, combined to toss a one-hitter to shutout the Reds and complete the sweep of the opening series at Goodyear Ballpark. Starting rotation candidates Zach McAllister and Daisuke Matsuzaka both impressed in the contest as each player threw two shutout innings.
McAllister needed only 14 pitches to get through his two innings of work and gave up a walk and struck out two. While many have the impression that the fourth spot in the rotation is McAllister’s to lose, Indians brass has been adamant that neither of the two remaining rotation spots have yet been decided. However, the team has admitted McAllister does have a “leg up” on the competition.
Minor league signee Matsuzaka was once a coveted star in Japan before joining the Boston Red Sox in 2007. But outside of his strong season in 2008, Matsuzaka has struggled in the Major Leagues, posting a 32-37 record with a 4.84 ERA. Now a year removed from Tommy John surgery, the Tribe signed Matsuzaka as a free agent to compete for a rotation spot. In his first outing in relief of McAllister, Matsuzaka threw only 10 pitches over two shutout innings and finished with a walk and a hit batsman. His velocity reportedly never touched 90 mph, but it's still early in spring training, and all that really matters is if he can make it through his allotted pitching time.
Both teams were held scoreless for the majority of the game as gusty winds and dominant pitching silenced both lineups' bats. The Indians finally broke through and scored three runs in the seventh inning courtesy of RBI-doubles by designated hitter Mark Reynolds, catcher Omir Santos and left fielder Carlos Moncrief. Reynolds hit two doubles today, the second of which demonstrated his power ability as he hit it directly into the teeth of the wind in center field, but it still went 400 feet to the fence. On a normal day, it probably would’ve gone out of the ballpark.
Young flamethrower Cody Allen got his first work of spring in today as a reliever. Allen built off his strong 2012 season and pitched a shutout inning with two strikeouts. Under-the-radar signing Jerry Gil also impressed in his 1 1/3 innings of work as the right-hander retired all four batters he faced, including Ryan LaMarre, whom Gil came in to face in a two-out, bases loaded situation in the sixth. Gil managed to strike him out on three consecutive pitches. Preston Guilmet pitched the ninth and earned the save with a strikeout.
Indians Lineup vs. Brewers (2/24/2013):
- Carrera – CF
- Holt – CF
- Aviles – SS
- Lindor – SS
- Hermida – DH
- Rodriguez – 2B
- Santana – C
- R. Perez – 1B
- Phelps – 3B
- Hernandez – DH
- Raburn – 2B
- Wolters – 3B
- McDade – 1B
- Aguilar – C
- Spears – RF
- Fedroff – LF
- Booth – LF
Indians Pitching vs. Brewers (2/24/2013):
- Bauer (W, 1-0)
- Huff (H, 1)
- Salazar (H, 1)
- Hagadone (S, 1)
The Ryan Raburn power train finally came to a halt, but that didn’t keep the other half of the Tribe squad from claiming victory over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4. Powered by home runs by catcher Carlos Santana and center fielder Ezequiel Carrera, the Indians rolled to their fourth victory to remain undefeated in the Cactus League.
Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir and Trevor Bauer each got their first taste of live-game action with the Indians today, rounding out the remainder of the starting rotation competition. All three are vying for one of the two open spots in the rotation and while Carrasco had a rocky start and allowed four runs in the first inning, Kazmir and Bauer joined Matsuzaka and McAllister with two impressive shutout innings each.
While it is still too early in Spring Training to draw any definite conclusions from any player, lefty Scott Kazmir has had nothing but high praise since arriving in camp. A former strikeout champion, the 29-year-old is hoping to work his way back to the Major Leagues after being driven out in 2011 due to a horrible decline in his career. After pitching in an independent league and in winter ball this offseason, Kazmir impressed the Tribe with his increasing velocity, which is reportedly back in the mid-90s. After pitching today, Kazmir told reporters he “felt better than he did in 2007”. For the record, Kazmir went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA in 2007 and pitched over 200 innings. Whether the Indians get the 2007 Scott Kazmir back is still unknown, but he remains a dark horse candidate for the rotation this season.
Many have marveled, discussed and even criticized Trevor Bauer and his unorthodox pitching techniques since his arrival in Cleveland via trade this offseason. Well, today those techniques were put to the test and so far, they’ve worked out for the young right-hander as he pitched two shutout innings while allowing two hits and also striking out two batters. While Bauer is a candidate for the rotation, it's possible he could start the season in Triple-A Columbus for some fine-tuning. There is little doubt that Tribe fans will see Bauer throwing his long-toss routine at Progressive Field at some point in 2013, though.
Outside of the home runs hit by Santana and Carrera, the Indians owe their runs to first baseman Mike McDade, third baseman Cord Phelps and shortstop Mike Aviles. Phelps is fighting for a roster spot and a reason for the Tribe to keep him in the organization. The Indians also trotted out prized infield prospects Francisco Lindor, Jesus Aguilar, and Tony Wolters. Only Aguilar emerged with a hit, and he now has three hits in four at-bats this spring.
The Indians will be on the road tomorrow in Phoenix as right-hander Justin Masterson will be getting his first work this spring against the Oakland A's. Manager Terry Francona wouldn’t name his opening day starter, but it’s likely between Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez , but the competition currently leans in Masterson’s favor given Jimenez’s struggles last season.
Well, what do you say Cleveland? We’ve seen what the lineup can do, and we’ve gotten a dose of what direction the pitching may go. Again, it’s too early to formulate any intelligent opinions on any one batter or pitcher, but on both sides overall, I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start.
We’re undefeated! And even though a Cactus League record isn’t worth much as far as actual Major League standings go, that doesn’t mean there’s any harm in enjoying it.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Wait, until Carrasco is ready and then sub him in for whoever needs to be subbed out. Trevor Bauer stays in AAA and works on his command. Scott Kazmir either makes the rotation or goes to AAA. At some point I want to either see Kazmir in the rotation or the bullpen if he is pitching well enough. Having a strike out throwing lefty like Kazmir would be a major asset for this club.
Even better would be to sign Kyle Lohse. Have both McCalister and Carrasco in AAA waiting for someone to falter. McCalister could even join the bullpen with Kazmir if everything goes better than expected.
Masterson-Ubaldo-Lohse-Meyers-Dice K would actually be a veteran rotation. With major in depth since Carrasco, McCalister, Kazmir, Bauer and Kluber will all be waiting in AAA.
I find it hard to believe we could not find 5 strong starters out of those names.