Clearing the Bases: Game #12: Indians 4, A's 3
The Indians beat the Oakland Athletics in game one of their three game series on Friday night, 4-3. They are now 7-5 on the season and improve to 6-1 on their current nine-game road trip. Here is a quick rundown of last night's action with some thoughts and observations from what happened during the game.
What went right:
- Michael Brantley hit a laser in his first at bat. It was an out, but it showcases how well he's been hitting the ball of late. The average will come if he keeps up with this approach.
- Santana walks, Hafner walks and Kotchman walks...this team knows how to get on base. In many cases, this is what the team has been missing over the years, and what they've been striving for. The coaching staff really needs to get some credit here, as this team will ultimately score runs as the bats heat up. As the schedule gets more difficult, they should still be finding ways to get on base.
- Jack Hannahan with a sacrifice fly to score a run. I know Hannahan will stop being Super Jack at some point, but wow, like last year, when does things good, he does them in bunches. Ten years from now, I doubt many people will remember Hannahan as being all that significant, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more important player on this team right now.
- On Hafner's single in the 4th inning, I really can't believe what I'm seeing. He's clearly the same guy he was in 2006. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting Hafner to roll out 40 homers and 150 RBI or anything like that, but you can clearly see that his swing is back, and not tentative. I haven't seen this from him since then, and you can see that opposing teams are noticing. There's fear when he steps to the plate again. He's clubbing the ball right now.
- Another walk from Shelley Duncan in the fourth puts Hafner on second. I know, a meaningless walk right? Well, now we have a guy in scoring position. Granted, we need a double because Hafner moves like Frankenstein, but still, the little things right? And, of course, as I type that, Hannahan rolls a double out to score both runners.
- So, Kipnis gets on base by getting hit. Here's the thing about Kipnis if you follow him at all...he figures out a way...always. I've seen him struggle in the minors here and there, but he always figures out a way to get things done eventually, and he can take unconventional ways to do it...as he steals second to get in scoring position.Kipnis scored on a Choo single. Choo seems to be gradually returning to form at the plate as well. The series in KC really seemed to wake him up. I guess boos really do sound like Choos.
- The A's really gave Ubaldo a gift in the bottom of the fifth, with one out, and a run already in, and runners on first and second after another Ubaldo walk, Santana nails Seth Smith at second on an attempted double steal. Then Ubaldo bears down and strikes out Jonny Gomes for essentially a double play to get out of the inning clinging to the lead. Merry Christmas Ubaldo.
- Ubaldo looked good in the sixth...fly out to Hannahan, ground out to the pitcher and a K. Have to imagine this is his last inning though, as he's at 108 pitches.
- Choo with a double...and seriously, if Hafner and Choo are back, and they get any help from guys like Brantley, Kipnis, Duncan and of course, Santana...this team is going to win it's fair share of games. You add a Damon, perhaps a Chisenhall down the road, and of course, a healthy Sizemore...and then, a trade, you could really have something for the stretch.
- Pestano remained stable, minus the double to Weeks (note...Weeks is a nice litte player...trade for him). Good to have some sanity back.
- And there's Brantley with a double. This kid is going to be an above average player for this club. The naysayers after a few games was laughable. He's really stroking the ball well.
- Hafner loads the bases with a walk. What's his OBP this year, .900? Oh no, Aaron Cunningham is up. Heaven help us...and he grounds out. Aaron Cunningham just made me wish for Shelley Duncan. Here comes Perez. Please...oh please let me stay in this column...
- Perez just struck out Cespedes, on five strikes. That umpire is an idiot. I love the look Perez gave the ump right there. Pure Rage is bound to be pissed off after all the gruff we've been giving the kid after opening day...good...take it out on the media.
- Boom...Perez goes 1-2-3 in the ninth, and seems to have some velocity back. Pissed, not pissed, who cares, as long as he's saving ballgames.
What went wrong:
- Ubaldo Jimenez looks like a pitcher taking an afternoon walk in the park. While I realize that pitchers are different sorts, it was interesting watching King Felix yesterday, who was stalking the Indians through his start...attacking. Jimenez looks about as disinterested as you can get on the mound. Can't believe that doesn't factor into his struggles.
- Jimenez isn't throwing any fastballs. I'm so sick of him missing the zone by a foot all over the place with his arsenal of 12 different benders. Trust the fastball, unless he realizes he's lost velocity. Even so, if good teams know he won't throw strikes, they won't take the bat off their shoulders...right Fausto...er...Roberto?
- Reddick hit a laser on a hanger from Ubaldo...not really anything more you can say about that.
- While he's not the only one, Josh Reddick really has Ubaldo's number today with that double in the fifth. And I like this Cespedes kid coming up. I really wanted the Indians to gamble on him. Worried with a runner on second. He's got a big bat, but should at nine million a year.
- Cespedes singles to score Reddick, while Duncan commits a fielding error to let Reddick get to second. I really wish we had a pitcher that could just dominate a hitter with a big swing...just sayin'.
- Santana with a single, and Choo gets pegged at the plate by about five feet. I'm not going to hammer Steve Smith too much on that one. It wasn't close, but he had to be feeling good after Kipnis scoring earlier. Of course, when the A's tie the game at some point, I'm going to lace him...just because that's the way I am.
- Weeks with a triple...bouncing around the outfield like a pinball machine. Way to go Tony Sipp. Hard to figure out why a staff would trust you over Hagadone at this point. Maybe they are saving the big lefty for later, or resting him, which seems silly. Lock it down, or enjoy your bus ride to Columbus.
- ...and Sipp walks Cliff Pennington, bringing up Reddick as the potential go-ahead run. I loathe you Tony Sipp. Can I honestly believe that I'm wishing Jimenez stayed in? Well, he struck out Reddick, and is now gone, so there's that.
- Cespedes singles, scoring Weeks...off of the just in Joe Smith. There's one for ya' Sipp.
- Casey freakin' Kotchman hits into a double play after a Hafner walk, and Duncan single. Here's the thing...Kotchman can't hit out of a paper bag. I know...he's better than LaPorta, but HE CAN'T HIT!
The Random Notes at the End:
Kotchman is so bad at the dish right now, but so good in the field. What's the balance? With Hannahan hitting, it's not a big deal, but when he stops, I don't think we can sustain them both, can we? Can someone please tell me what in the hell Tony Sipp is doing out there? He is extremely hittable right now, and with Hagadone sitting there, with the best stuff in the pen, tonight's appearance couldn't have helped him. What did this team have tonight...nine walks? NINE WALKS! If Perez truly is back, and this isn't a figment of my imagination, you have to like thoughts of Hagadone, Pestano and Perez as the back-end three, with Smith and Rafe as the primary spot guys before them. It's early to scoreboard watch, but the Tribe is in second, a half-game ahead of the White Sox, and a game and a half behind the Tigers.
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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