Indians and White Sox reach 2-2 stalemate in Glendale
Two AL Central rivals finish in draw at end of regulation play
Well, I started my week out here in Arizona with a tie back in Peoria last Saturday when the Indians and Padres played to a 4-4 draw after 10 innings, so it might as well end with one as the Tribe and White Sox ended their bout at Camelback Ranch in Glendale tied at two at the end of regulation play, opting not to play extra innings.
Player of the Game: David Cooper (1-1, 2B, RBI, R)
While first baseman David Cooper was designated for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for infielder Justin Sellers, he is still out to prove that he is worthy of joining the big league squad when they head to Oakland to begin the regular season at the end of this month.
On Friday, Cooper proved to be the difference-maker between the tie game and the White Sox winning as he scored the Tribe's first run in the seventh and drove in the tying run in the form of minor leaguer Ryan Rohlinger with a sac-fly in the eighth inning.
As of right now, Cooper's chances of making the team are slim due to his lack of versatility and absence of power at the positions he can play, which are first base and DH, both typically power-hitting positions.
That hasn't discouraged him, though as he is now batting .308 on the spring with a pair of doubles and four RBI. He has also walked three times and only struck out once in nine games played thus far.
The Indians originally signed Cooper to a major league deal this offseason after he had spent part of 2013 in the minor leagues on a minor league deal. After clearing waivers, he remains in camp as a non-roster invite.
Tomlin and Cautious Optimism
Friday's outing pretty much illustrated the reasoning for why we should temper our expectations for Josh Tomlin just a bit. Through the first four innings of his appearance against the White Sox, he was effective, but going into the fifth inning where the lineup was facing him for the second and/or third time, things began to unravel as Conor Gillespie and Josh Phegley hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning with Adam Eaton following up with a single. Fortunately, there were already two outs in the inning, so Tomlin was able to easily escape further damage.
While he has been impressive so far this spring, it's important to remember exactly what kind of pitcher Tomlin is, in that he has pinpoint command, but needs to stay within the strike zone for the most part to be effective. That may work for a while, but living within the strike zone almost exclusively eventually catches up with you, as evidenced by Phegley and Gillespie's home runs as well as the doubles by Phegley and Jose Abreu.
What has changed this spring for Tomlin is the increased strikeout rate as he has averaged a strikeout per inning in four outings so far this spring. Considering he has only averaged 4.9 whiffs per nine innings over the course of his big league career, that is a pretty significant spike. Of course, can you take stats at face value after only 14 innings during spring training? Probably not, but interesting nonetheless.
Bottom line is Tomlin should keep things interesting as Terry Francona must decide who will be the fifth starter on opening day, especially if he maintains those strikeout numbers, but keep in mind his pitching style does make him more susceptible to hits, particularly after he has gone through the lineup a few times.
Facts and Tidbits
- Right-hander Bryan Shaw has yet to allow a run to score this spring after five appearances. He has also only allowed four hits, hasn't walked a batter and struck out four.
- Justin Sellers recorded his first strikeouts since March 5th, his first game since being acquired by the Tribe. Friday was also the first game he hadn't reached base since March 8th.
Up Next: D-Backs (9-9) vs. Indians (12-2-2) @ Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch at 4:05pm ET.
It's looking like another relievers-only day for the Indians as Frank Herrmann is slated to take the mound against Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin. Earlier this week in Scottsdale, the Indians were victorious in a crisp 7-1 win at Salt River Fields and now they will have a rematch in Goodyear at the Indians home park.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.