Second Thoughts: Game #39-Marlins 3, Indians 2
|W: Zambrano (2-2) L: Sipp (0-2) S: Bell (4)
Player of the Game: Carlos Zambrano (7 innings 4 hits 2 ER 5 BB 2 SO)
The Indians snapped their four-game winning streak against the Marlins on Friday night, as the Tribe bats just could not get anything going even with an early 2-0 lead. After the second inning, it was all Miami through the final six frames as they would go onto win 3-2 at Progressive Field.
Tribe starter Justin Masterson was solid through seven strong innings in what hopes to be a start to build on for the Indians ace going forward. He did walk three and struggled with command early in the ballgame, but I think the Tribe and their fans will no doubt take that kind of start from Masterson any day of the week even if it didn’t result in a win for the big right hander.
The Top 7
- Masterson back to being Masterful. There were times he fell behind the count, but for the most part Masterson pitched great last night and gave the Tribe a chance to win. The Tribe ace went seven innings for the first time in just about a month, when he went eight innings against the L.A. Angels back on April 27. First pitch strikes aside, I think he’s finally back for good!
- Santana with a cannon behind the dish. Not once, not twice, but three times Carlos Santana threw out runners trying to steal second base, upping his total of would be base stealers to 32 percent. Lou Marson who?
- Attendance jump! 29,378 fans showed up to watch the Tribe fall to the Marlins last night, which ended up being the second highest attendance at Progressive Field in 2012. I’ve been hard on fans over the last few weeks about showing up to games and they finally delivered last night. Proud to say I was one part of the 6,100 other fans who chose to walk-up and buy tickets to the game last night. Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!
- Kotchman stays hot. With an RBI single on Friday, Casey Kotchman has now hit in four of his last five games and is now hitting .306 over his last 10 games. With Matt LaPorta possibly on his way up from Triple-A Columbus, could Kotchman be finally breaking through? I would say yes, but there’s no stopping LaPorta from making a potential appearance soon.
- Choo continues be consistent hitting leadoff. To be honest at first I did not like moving Choo to the leadoff spot in the lineup. He just seemed like he belonged in the middle of the Tribe lineup even if he was not putting up staggering numbers. I was wrong, as Choo is now hitting .368 batting leadoff (7-for-19) with four extra base-hits including a home run, and an OPS of 1.113.
- Taking walks. Three of them may have come from the same hitter (Johnny Damon) but the Tribe still took their walks on Friday night. Unfortunately without any consistent and timely hitting, the walks amounted to just one of the Indians two runs on the night. While they still lead all of MLB in total team walks, the Tribe must need to find a way to capitalize on their walks each and every game if they want to continue to build a lead in the Central Division.
- LoMo infield shifts. In all three of his at-bats on Friday, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison grounded out to second baseman Jason Kipnis in short right field after the Tribe put an infield shift on him throughout the game. Talk about some bad luck.
The Bottom 7
- Offense starts off well…doesn’t finish. Two runs on four hits, that’s it…and three of the four came within the first two innings! Absolutely unacceptable. Yes, Zambrano pitched great, but for a team that was coming off a big comeback win against Seattle the previous day, the Indians just never looked like themselves against the Marlins on Friday.
- Joe Smith’s decision. I learned it in little league and through high school baseball: Always get the out. It’s as simple as that. Tony Sipp may have gotten the loss last night, but Joe Smith is the one who really cost the Tribe the victory not throwing the ball to first after Omar Infante grounded out to Smith in the eighth inning. Instead of getting the easy out at first after the slow groundout, the sidearm specialist threw the ball in the dirt to second base and into right field, leading to Miami’s go ahead and eventual game winning run.
- Why Tony Sipp? Why oh why Manny why? Game tied 2-2 heading into the top of the eighth inning and Indians manager Manny Acta calls on Sipp to start the inning? Sure Marlins leadoff man in the inning Bryan Petersen is lefty, but why not bring in Vinnie Pestano? Or even Nick Hagadone? I just don’t get it.
- Hitters 3 thru 7 held hitless. Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, Santana, Michael Brantley, and Damon went a combined 0-for-17 against Zambrano and the rest of the Miami pitching staff last night. For a team that already lacks consistency offensively, it was just one of those nights to say the least.
- Bottom of the lineup in bottom of the 9th. There’s nothing like watching a potential walk-off win unfolding right before your eyes. Unfortunately, there was no walk-off victory for the Tribe last night, and to be completely honest there shouldn’t have been. Especially after looking at who the Indians sent to the plate in the final inning. Damon, Kotchman, and Lopez. Sure both Kotchman and Lopez have been getting on base of late, but c'mon, you can't tell me it's still painful to see their names littering the bottom of the line-up.
- Walking too many hitters. Between Masterson and teammate Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians may just have enough walks to raise money for a walk-a-thon of their own. First and third in all of MLB in walks, both of the Tribe’s front two starters need to cut down on the free passes. On Friday, Masterson walked three more batters and has now walked nine in his last 19 innings pitched. We all know for a fact he’s better than that. The problem cost the Indians last night, as all three runs that scored were off of walks.
- Losing the first game of a series. The loss to the Marlins marks just the third time this season that the Tribe lost the first game of a series. Bad thing is, Cleveland has gone onto lose the series after being defeated in the first game two out of three times this year.
With the loss, the Indians (22-17) still remain in first place three games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the Central Division. Friday’s game against Miami marked the first time the Tribe played the Marlins since 2007, and the first time they played in Cleveland since 2004. It was just the fourth meeting between the two ball clubs at Progressive Field since Game 5 of the 1997 World Series, and the first 3-2 loss by the Indians against the Marlins since the heartbreaking Game 7 of the ’97 World Series.
Up next for the Indians: The second game of the three-game series against the Marlins rolls on with afternoon baseball on Saturday, as it will be Jeanmar Gomez (2-2, 3.75 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 2.28 ERA) at 4:05 pm.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.