Second Thoughts: Game #59 - Indians 4, Cardinals 1
|W: V. Pestano (3-0) L: J. Motte (3-3) S: C. Perez (20)
Sunday's rubber match between the Indians and Cardinals played out a lot like the previous game early on. Both teams received great outings from their starters, and the Cardinals took an early lead. However, the Indians tied the game on this day, and they were the team that eventually added on in a later round. And in dramatic fashion.
For a second consecutive start, Ubaldo Jimenez has looked like the kind of pitcher that the Indians thought they were trading for last July. After giving up a solo home run to Carlos Beltran in the first inning, Jimenez settled in for his best (and longest) performance of the season. He commanded all of his pitches, and his velocity has continued to increase over what it had been earlier on in the year. PITCHf/x seem to show that his release point has been slightly higher in the last handful of starts, and that could be making the difference. Proper mechanics and repetition limit balls and keep pitch counts down, and that is what he has been able to do in these last two outings. 11 strikeouts to one walk from a pitcher that was leading the world in free passes for the first two months of the season. 67 of his 102 pitches went for strikes, and an impressive 11 of them came on swings and misses. Over his first 11 starts, he averaged just 6.6 swinging strikes. Is this just a small sample tease, or will two effective days of work turn into three, four, five...?
Jason Kipnis came a triple short of the cycle. What an overachiever that dude is... His day was capped off by a go-ahead three-run deposit in the ninth inning. He also walked, and stole a base against the best catcher in the game. Over his last 17 games, he is 25-for-70 with four home runs, 15 runs batted in and nine stolen bases. 10 of those 17 games are multi-hit efforts.
Another game, another hit for Michael Brantley. Before extending his streak to 18 in the sixth, he recorded two well-struck outs, showing just how zoned in he is. During the run, he is 25-for-70 with 15 runs batted in and six stolen bases. Very similar to Kipnis' numbers in one more game.
Not only did Shelley Duncan collect two hits, but he collected two hits that didn't end up in left field. He singled to right in the second, and singled right back up the box in the fourth. Still, he is an abysmal 16-for-93 since April 17.
Shin-Soo Choo kept his production out of the leadoff spot going with two more hits, both of which actually came while leading off an inning. He has now led off for 25 games, and has a slash line of .308/.379/.452, to go along with 23 runs scored, six runs batted in and three stolen bases.
It looked like trouble for Vinnie Pestano when he walked the bases loaded with one out in a tie ballgame. Alas, he escaped, as he usually does, unscathed. He put away two straight hitters with hard-biting sliders in the dirt to end the eighth.
Despite there being a right-hander on the mound, Johnny Damon was left out of the starting lineup. He pinch-hit to lead off the ninth and started the rally with a seeing-eye single up the middle. So far in June, he is 6-for-18 with four runs batted in and three walks.
Chris Perez wasn't able to get into either of the first two games against his former club, but he left his mark on this one...
Carlos Santana had a prime opportunity to get the Indians on the board in the first, but struck out with runners on first and third and one down. He was able to get the Indians' first run across with a short sacrifice fly in the same situation two innings later, but he has been scuffling. In his last 10 games, he is 3-for-36, and his OPS has dropped 99 points.
Not only is Lonnie Chisenhall not playing against left-handers, but now he was benched against a right-hander? Tough to understand.
The Indians were able to pull this win out thanks to Kipnis' clutch three-pointer, but they left 10 on base, and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
By "left his mark," I mean Perez came off the mound after earning his 20th save and heaved. About as ugly as ugly gets.
Monday is another off day before the next installment of the Ohio Cup. The Indians will see three right-handers in the series, so they have to feel confident about winning another series on the road and turning this tough trip into an overwhelming success.
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