Second Thoughts: Game #55 - Indians 9, Tigers 6
|W: J. Gomez (4-4) L: M. Scherzer (5-4) S: Perez (19)|
The Line: 5IP, 7H, 6/6R/ER. 1BB, 0K. 0GIDP
The Results: 66pitches, 65% strikes, 11GB, 4FB, 1PO, 5LD
The Write-up: Tuesday night the Indians were humiliated by Drew Smyly the first time through the order; striking out in more than half of their at bats. The rest of the game saw the Indians ending more than half of their at bats with hits, walks or line drives that happened to be hit too close to a Detroit fielder. The Indians made adjustments the 2nd time through the order and started to absolutely beat up on the Detroit lefty. In the end, the Indians had chased the starter during their 3rd time through the lineup.
A similar story occurred last night as Jeanmar Gomez cruised the first time through, despite registering no strikeouts, and looked to be in control. However, things became troublesome very quickly as the Detroit lineup got their 2nd look at Gomez. Despite holding an 8-3 lead in the 5th inning, Manny Acta’s decision to keep Gomez in to face Cabrera and Fielder (who had already homered and almost homered) resulted in a more closely contested game than was probably necessary.
The Line: 4IP, 1H, 0BB, 3K
The Results: 45pitches, 69% strikes, 4GB, 3FB, 2PO, 1LD
The Write-up: We should be running out of superlatives at a certain point when talking about the Indians bullpen, but then they go into lockdown mode and we have to invent new nice things to say. I would be willing to argue that the Indians have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues. Chris Perez is the AL leader in Saves and has converted 19 straight. Vinnie Pestano has a wOBA-against versus RHB (all-inclusive stats that basically calculates how much offensive production is incurred against a pitcher, as opposed to how man runs are scored against, which can be dictated by pitching changes and runners already on base) of .199 which is just ridiculously low. Nick Hagadone has a wOBA against versus LHB of just .187.
If Tony Sipp and Joe Smith can pitch like they did last night, the Tribe has five stellar arms with two solid arms in relief (Barnes and Accardo) and have a great balance of lefties and righties in addition to some really high K/9 guys that can get you out of a jam. Manny Acta has a luxury few teams can claim and that is being able to pull starters after 5 innings and easily getting to the end of the game without relying on a couple guys to stretch out to 5 or 6 outs.
The Starting Lineup
The Line: 9/33, 1 2B, 2HR, 4BB, 1SB
The Results: 9R, 16TB, 14LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 243/317/432
The Write-up: The Indians exploded for 9 runs, but did it with realtivley few hits. The key, like most things in life, was timing. Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman both hit home runs with men on base and the team just bunched up hits against Max Scherzer last night. With the exception of a pair of walks in the 3rd and 7th inning, the Indians either went 1-2-3 or scored at least one run. The Indians also managed to answer every single rally that Detroit staged. The psychological advantage you hold when your team is always pulling a little farther away, regardless of how many runs the opposing team scores in the previous half inning, is huge.
Michael Brantley seems to be turning a corner in his game. We are used to him getting hot and serving lots of line drives in left and left center to keep the average just below .300. What he did last night was turn on a mistake and take it out of the park AND drill a ball in the left-center gap that would have been at least a double, if not for an incredible play by Tigers’ centerfielder Quintin Berry.
Choo seems incredibly at home in the leadoff position and though his power numbers may struggle, his average, on base and runs scored will all continue to flourish. Carlos Santana needs to get back on track as he is 0-9 since returning from the 7-day DL and 0 for his last 19 at bats with no walks.
The Indians are making highlight plays all over the field in recent weeks, and at the center of this, as usual, is Asdrubal Cabrera. He made another beautiful bare-handed play to get Delmon Young on a slow-roller that got by Jeanmar Gomez. Asdrubal has extremely high awareness of his own arm and range limitations and the runner’s speed. He attempts to make these amazing plays because there is no other play to make.
Johnny Damon took a home-run away from Prince Fielder and showed that he definitely got a feel for left field during his season at Detroit because he timed his jump perfectly. Knowing the field you play on is such an advantage for the home team’s outfielders because they know all the caroms and how far back the wall is, even if they are on a dead-sprint. Damon used that knowledge well last night to take a run from the Tigers.
The Indians still can’t lose to the Tigers. They scored 9 runs on 9 hits and had a dominant bullpen performance. Sprinkle in some solid defense and you have a recipe to beat just about any team. Combined with another loss by the White Sox to the Blue Jays, the Indians are just 0.5 games out of first again. Derek Lowe will go for the Tribe at 1pm and look for the 2nd sweep of the season against the divisional rival.
Nice to see Sipp finally have a solid outing. Hopefully he can turn his season around because it has been crap so far.
Gomez's performance has really dropped off lately. I wonder if teams are figuring out how to attack him or if his stufff just doesn't play against the better offensive teams like Detroit and Chicago.
Best game of the year by far for Damon. Let's give him another three days off.
About time Brantley hit a home run. Maybe we'll start seeing a few long balls. I can't remember the last time the Tribe hit two home runs in a game.
Santana is just wilding flailing away right now. He's chasing bad pitches which he normally doesn't do. Hope he shakes off the rust soon, but he only hit .203 from the left side last year, so even under normal conditions it's all or nothing when he hits left-handed.