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Second Thoughts Game #17: Indians 5, Astros 4

Tribe bats rally late to net their second straight win

Second Thoughts Game #17: Indians 5, Astros 4
April 22, 2013
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Player of the Game: Mark Reynolds (1-for-3 with the game’s deciding homer and 1 RBI)

The Leadoff

It was a wild one for the Tribe in Houston, as the Indians squeezed by the Astros, 5-4 in the series finale to win their second straight. In what was a back-and-forth seesaw battle of one run leads, Mark Reynolds would hit the game’s go-ahead homer to give Cleveland another much needed victory.

Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez looked better than his two previous outings, but needed to rely on the bullpen to once again bail him out of trouble. The right-hander left the ballgame through just five innings, surrendering four runs on four hits as he was handed a no-decision.

The Top 9

  • Touch ‘em all time! What a difference one year makes when it comes to hitting the long ball. Raking another four homers out of Minute Maid Park on Sunday, Cleveland now is tied for second in the American League with 25 home runs through 17 games. I know chicks dig the long ball, but all Tribe fans have to be liking this new power hitting offense ownership has rolled out this season. 
  • Mark exceeding his mark. At the center of it all offensively when it comes to mashing home runs is Indians third baseman Mark Reynolds. Clubbing another long ball to left field, Reynolds has put on a display offensively through this first month, and there are still eight more games to be played this month. The right handed slugger is now tied for the AL lead with seven homers and also tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera having collected 18 RBI.
  • Santana keeps rockin’. Carlos Santana also continued his hot offensive tear on Sunday, as the first baseman went 2-for-5 with a double, homer and an RBI. He now leads all catchers in baseball with a .380 average and seven doubles on the year. What is also a great sign from the Indians backstop is that he is hitting great from both sides of the plate: (.375 average against right-handers and .385 average against lefties).
  • Yan Gomes. I think Lou Marson’s days as backup catcher for the Indians are numbered, as Yan Gomes has become a pleasant surprise for the Tribe both offensively and defensively. His solo homer in the second inning was already the Brazilian native’s second home run of the season in just six games. Gomes also hit a long triple in the ballgame that would have gone for a long ball in any other park in the majors. I think it’s safe to say he will become Jimenez’s full-time battery mate behind the plate going forward.
  • Butterball. With Cleveland up 3-2 with one out in the sixth inning, Drew Stubbs stayed on a pitch nicely and took the ball to the opposite field for his first home run of the year. It wasn’t just any homer though, as Stubbs’ home run ball landed in a fans popcorn bucket sending popcorn kernels all over the warning track in right field. A nice catch by an Astros fan and definitely nice to see Stubbs find his power stroke. 
  • Bullpen Mafia. The Bullpen Mafia was back doing what they do best on Sunday, as relievers Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano combined with a nail biting ninth inning for closer Chris Perez for three scoreless innings to secure the one run victory. Perez would load the bases with just one out in the ninth, but managed to work around trouble to notch his second save, and also save Tribe Town from a furious frenzy. Mark Reynolds also helped out with the glove at third, making a great play to end the ballgame.
  • Allen gets the ‘W’. He may have only thrown a 1/3 of an inning, but it was just enough for reliever Cody Allen, who picked up his first major league win on Sunday. On the season, Allen has 12 strikeouts through nine innings of work out of the ‘pen.
  • One through nine. Excluding shortstop Mike Aviles, everyone in the Tribe starting nine contributed in the ballgame with at least one hit. After not being able to reach double-digits in hits for 10 consecutive games, the Indians have now collected at least 10 hits in two straight.
  • Won the series. Even with dropping the first game on Friday, Cleveland managed to win the three-game series against Houston. It was certainly a relief for both players and fans to see the Tribe go on the road and take two out of three, after having a dismal five game losing streak earlier in the week.

The Bottom 3

  • UGH-baldo. He looked better, but Jimenez still didn’t get the job done for the Tribe yielding four runs in the game through just five innings of work. There was a point where he set down 14 straight Astros hitters, but until Jimenez can start consistently netting quality starts, it will be a roller coaster for the Indians all season long.
  • Dismal with RISP. After going 11-for-22 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, the Indians were just 1-for-10 with RISP on Sunday, leaving eight runners on base. They were victorious, but Cleveland had opportunities to put the game away early and did not cash in on them.
  • Strikeouts. Tribe hitters struck out 10 times in the ballgame, as they move into fifth place in the American League with 144 strikeouts as a team on the year. Yes, there’s no question this number will grow as the season progresses, but journeyman Astros starter Erik Bedard struck out eight batters in just four innings, which is inexcusable.

Closing Time

With the series win against the Astros, Cleveland moves three games in back of first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 7-10 on the season.

Up next for the Indians: The first of a three-game series on Monday against the Chicago White Sox, as Tribe ace Justin Masterson (3-1, 1.67 ERA) takes the mound versus White Sox righty Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.70 ERA) at 8:10 p.m.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Seth
April 22, 2013 - 10:25 AM EDT
That one to Raburn was not an easy play, and regardless, it was a rocket that looked like it was gone off Altuve's bat. Stubbs maybe catches it, Choo definitely wouldn't have. Ubaldo is mostly lucky that Altuve isn't a little stronger. About 3 pitches before that, when he threw a 92 mph fastball up and over the plate to Gonzalez that was fouled back, I was thinking to myself, that is exactly what Ubaldo can't get away with now that he throws 92. Then he gave up a hard single to Gonzalez and the blast from Altuve. Agree that this was a "good" start from Ubaldo, going 5 innings with a 7.20 ERA against the Astros, and that is sad.

Gomes has looked good. I would imagine they'll stick with the original plan of having him work full time in the minors at catching. He actually seems like he's better at framing than Marson or Santana, and nothing stood out as far as bad game calling. Like in game 1, the best moment was when Chisenhall flew out of his shoes at a first pitch breaking ball in the dirt that he missed by a foot, and then somehow the catcher and pitcher thought it was a good idea to throw a fastball down and in on the next pitch. It was like: "Oh, you were looking for us to throw THIS pitch. Here you go." Chisenhall took the same swing, and it was gone. I didn't see Gomes make any weird pitch calls like that.
Rich
April 22, 2013 - 8:28 AM EDT
The more I see of Gomes the more I like him. Aviles and Gomes for Esmil Rogers? Another steal for the Tribe. Cody Allen is an upgrade over Rogers in the same role, so we gave up nothing for these guys.

Gomes crushed that home run and his triple would have been a homer anywhere else. I wonder if he can hit right-handed pitching?

Reynolds and Santana have been keeping the offense afloat until Asdrubal, Chiz, and Kipnis show up. But they better show up soon because Reynolds and Santana can't keep this up for long.

Speaking of Kipnis, it was great to see him bunt for a base hit against a lefty. Then Brantley took his cue and did the same thing. Really smart baseball. Find a way to get on base ahead of Swisher, Santana, and Reynolds.
Tony
April 22, 2013 - 8:27 AM EDT
I did not take much from the start. It was better than his previous outings, yet again, it was a subpar outing giving up 4 runs in 5 innings and not pitching at least 6 innings. Should Raburn have caught that ball? Probably. But the same could be said for the ball that Stubbs caught in the first inning. Without that catch, Ubaldo maybe gives up 4-5 runs that inning. So, to me, it evened out.

It was good to at least see Ubaldo throw strikes, then again, the lineup he was throwing to was awful, so I really don't know what to take from it. He really looks like he struggles from the stretch as his command drops significantly once he has to pitch from it. Will be interesting to track that in his next start or two. In any case, he needs to start pitching deeper into games and being effective from pitch one until the last one and not have those lapses where things get away from him like they always do.
Rich
April 22, 2013 - 8:21 AM EDT
I had a more positive view of Ubaldo's performance. After the rocky first inning he was completely dominant through the fifth, retiring 14 straight hitters on a minimum number of pitches. He only threw 58 pitches through the first five innings, which is unheard of for him. Usually he's at 60 pitches before the 3rd inning is over and 100 pitches by the 5th.

He was ahead in the count and in complete control, mixing his pitches effectively, getting the off-speed stuff AND the fastball over, and making the hitters hit his pitch.

In the 6th he gave up an opposite field single, then a fly ball that should have been caught by Raburn, but somehow it bounced off his shoulder. If Rayburn makes that catch there's one out with a runner on first - no big deal. But he misplayed it into a triple.

I think Francona wanted to pull him while he still had a successful start to build off of. He wasn't knocked out by any stretch.

If he can capture what he was doing from the 2nd through the 5th innings he has a chance to have a decent season. He was throwing 94 mph fastballs in on the hands and then hitting the outside corner with changeups, and the hitters were helpless.

The problem is that there is a very fine line between him being a very good pitcher and being one of the worst pitchers in baseball, and he can go from one to the other in a single inning at any point in the game. He's like the tightrope walker whose skill you marvel at when everything is locked in, but the smallest gust of wind blows him right off.

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