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Second Thoughts Game #118: Indians 6, Angels 5

Second Thoughts Game #118: Indians 6, Angels 5
August 12, 2013
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Having lost six straight games and severely jeopardizing their playoff chances, the Indians desperately needed a win before embarking on their longest stretch of games away from Cleveland left. They turned to their best pitcher to halt the slide, but two innings in, there seemed to be no end in sight. With a large early deficit and no momentum whatsoever, it looked like it would take a bit of magic for the home team to leave town with a win under their belts. Sure enough, they brought their wands.

Masterson labors, but in part due to more poor backup

 If the Indians were going to send anyone out to the mound to end this disastrous stretch, you would have to feel the best about Justin Masterson. Well, he didn't really have a hand in the win, but he wasn't quite as bad as it might have seemed, either.

He threw 60 pitches and gave up four runs through the first two innings. He only made it through 4.1 innings, walked four and hit another. His fastball command certainly wasn't at its best (just 57% strikes, overall). He was clearly having release point issues.

But, there was more to the story. He also did what he normally does -- get a ton of ground balls. Three of the five runs he allowed came on choppers (and another, via blooper). In the second inning, his defense misplayed two tough-but-not-impossible rollers, and the two-run hit he allowed in the inning (made possible by a Michael Brantleyoverthrow that put the second run in scoring position) was probably at least fielded by many shortstops rangier thanAsdrubal Cabrera.

So, once again, catching the baseball was an issue for this team. This was obviously one of the more disappointing Masterson starts on the surface, and he definitely got himself into trouble with the walks, but a number of things could have very easily went his way.

This was his second straight un-Masterson start, and the 10th of the season (of 25) in which he has allowed four or more earned runs. Luckily, the other 15 have tended to be incredible efforts. In 11 of those, he has allowed one or no earned runs. So, looking back, it occurs to me that he has been pretty hit or miss, but with plenty more hits. There's no real reason to believe that these last two performances are any cause for concern.

The bullpen excels in extended duty

 This game started off much like the series opener, in which Scott Kazmir got bull-rushed early and was knocked out of the game early (though we learned that it also had something to do with arm fatigue). Five runs in 3.0 innings for Kazmir; five in 4.1 for Masterson.

As such, a lot was asked of an Indians' bullpen that has had its fair share of valleys this season. Friday's cleanup duty was essentially a one-man show performed by Carlos Carrascon. In this game, it was more of a joint effort, but the result was the same: zeros across the board.

Rich HillMatt AlbersJoe Smith and Chris Perez combined to lock down the final 4.2 innings of this one, allowing just one hit (though Hill walked three). It was especially nice to see Perez respond positively in his first save opportunity since the meltdown that started the team on their downward spiral.

Of course, the relief unit did get bombarded in the middle game of this series -- a close one. Still, they deserve credit for keeping the score where it was in the other two, even if a lot of the work was done in low-pressure situations.

For the Indians' next trick... POOF! Offense!

For five innings, it looked like the Indians' week from hell was well on its way to wrapping up at 0-7.

Down 5-0, Michael Bourn came up with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. He laced a single up the middle for just the team's second hit of the game. Nothing much to get excited about. But then, a Nick Swisher home run. And aJason Kipnis walk. And a Mike Aviles home run.

Just like that, the much-needed and long overdue offense outburst happened. Angels starter Jerome Williams is a contact pitcher who relies on commanding the edges and producing weak and/or confused swings. He started floating towards the middle of the zone, and he was made to pay for it.

Carlos Santana led off the next inning with a third long ball in the span of five batters, and the game was tied. Bourn, the rally-starter from an inning before, pushed another run across later in the frame to give the Indians six unanswered, and their first lead. It would hold up.

As a lineup that had been scuffling, from essentially top to bottom for a full week now, it had to have been nothing short of a weight off their shoulders. They had absolutely nothing going through five innings, and out of nowhere, everything changed. Such is baseball. 

And such is this offense throughout most of the season. This is a very capable group of hitters, and they have proven that. They ran into a string of excellent starting pitching, and other areas also faltered simultaneously, resulting in a perfect storm of failure. The team as a whole was looking for a win -- any win. But a win in this fashion, coming back from a five-run deficit in a game where their number one starter didn't have it... This could be exactly the mental boost that everyone needed.

Up next: The Indians hit the road for a nine-game trip, starting tonight in Minneosta. Danny Salazar will take the ball, opposed by fellow rookie Andrew Albers (no relation to Matt).

User Comments

August 12, 2013 - 12:18 PM EDT
Biggest difference between Santana of 2010 and Gomes of 2013:

'10 Santana: .277 BABIP
'13 Gomes: .338 BABIP

August 12, 2013 - 11:48 AM EDT
I say 20 points becuase , i expect som regression even if minimal, and 68 at max. Now he always could do exact polar opisite, °180. I hope for latter, add 68 to that ops, i
August 12, 2013 - 11:44 AM EDT
In Santana rookie season
46 games
150 ab
6 hr
22 rbi
.260 avg
. .401 obp
+.467 slg = ops =868

Yan gomes
168 ab
51 games
28 rbi
.310 avg
.353 obp
+.536 slg =.889

Santana2010 rookie season, in comparison to gomes at age 26 2nd season, still a rookie tho. (B4 anyone can say it i get the difference but 20 points in regression is still good) ( 68 points shaved off is still a .800 ops guy, good for a top 3 player(kip santana, and i believe brantley has an ops at .800 now) [so at most tied for third with brantley]

{swisher should have better year next year, bourn too.and a rotation led by masterson,kluber,kazmir*,Salazar could be craaazy} *tribe most likely will resign

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