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Second Thoughts: Game #67 - Reds 2, Indians 3

Second Thoughts: Game #67 - Reds 2, Indians 3
June 20, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
CIN 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 9 1
CLE 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 10 1
W: N. Hagadone (1-0) L: A. Chapman (4-3)

Starting Pitching

The Line: 6.2IP, 6H, 1/1 R/ER. 2BB, 2K, 2GIDP

The Results: 95pitches, 63% strikes, 13GB, 5FB, 2PO, 2LD

The Write-up: Josh Tomlin pitched a great game against a hot-hitting Reds lineup. Tomlin really had his cutter and curveball going last night. It was great to see him set guys up and execute the plan that was clearly drawn up going into the game. An example of this plan and execution occurred against Joey Votto in the 1st inning. With a runner on 1st, Tomlin worked inside to tie-up the NL’s best hitter. Fastball, cutter, cutter and he induced a pop-up all while keeping a dangerous runner close to the bag. If you are looking for why Tomlin stays in the rotation with middling stuff, look no further than this type of performance. Keeping a runner close with a few pick-off’s all while throwing strikes on the inside-black against a great hitter is incredibly taxing on a pitcher and difficult to avoid making the mistake pitch that leads to crooked numbers.

Tomlin cruised after the first and only allowed three base runners until the 7th when a single followed by a walk brought Acta to the mound and finished Tomlin’s night. The only shame is that Tomlin (and Leake for that matter) deserved the win for going almost seven innings and giving up only a single run.

The Bullpen

The Line: 3.1 IP, 3H, 0BB, 2K

The Results: pitches, 64% strikes, 6GB, 4FB, 1PO, 2LD

The Write-up: The Indians bullpen continues its stellar season. Only allowing a run (and a run scored on two wild pitches) over 3 1/3 innings is great work and gave the Indians offense just enough life to get going. Chris Perez pulled off the (seemingly) rare feat by going 1-2-3 in a non-save situation. For those interested, Tony and I looked at save/non-save stats earlier in the year when people were calling for Perez’s head. Perez’s stats in save situations and non-save situations are eerily similar, as are most closer’s; most fans, myself included just remember the blow-up’s in non-save situations for whatever reason, so let’s try and commit nights like last night to memory rather than the ugly nights.

Esmil Rogers has been nothing short of spectacular for the Indians in his 6.0 innings of work: 6IP, 3H, 2/1 R/ER, 0BB and 7K. His strikeout of Devin Mesoraco to end the 7th and get Tomlin out of the jam was a big point in the game and moved things over to Pestano and Perez. It’s hard to believe the Rockies gave up on a guy throwing 95-98 with an above average off-speed pitch. Even if he isn’t your closer of the future, that is valuable and the Indians ability to build bullpen’s through every way possible, except free agency, continues to be an organizational strength.

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 10/37, 2 2B, 1HR, 1BB, 0 SB, 0 CS

The Results: 3R, 15TB, 17LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 270/290/405

The Write-up: The Indians still can’t draw a walk, but the home run has come back in a big way this series. Santana is finally showing some signs of life, though his patient approach that pairs, (1) aggressive cuts at good pitches and (2) an ability to not chase pitches outside the zone/not swing at unhittable strikes, still isn’t showing itself.

Shin-soo Choo is still performing extremely well in the leadoff position, though he is producing in an odd sort of way. Choo’s K:BB in 2012:

Position in Order K:BB OBP SLG
1st 12:34 .364 .500
3rd 10:16 .375 .322
6th 6:09 .340 .349

What we have here is a leadoff hitter who still gets on base at a good clip (.364) but who slugs extremely well and is not worrying about working the count. Choo clearly has decided to get on via the hit and forego the walks that, up until now, have been such a big part of his offensive value. It could be a mental thing, but at a certain point, you would like to see Choo slide down the order and have those doubles and home run’s come with runner’s on-base.

Though, until Brantley learns to take a walk, he is not a viable candidate for the leadoff spot. Even though he is seeing and squaring the ball very well right now, he  still has only drawn 14 walks on the season and is registering a well-below average (for a lead-off hitter) .320 on-base percentage.

Of course, the big story of the night was the two-run walk-off homer by Asdrubal Cabrera. He did exactly what you want your better hitter’s to do: get ahead in the count and sit on one pitch. He was clearly looking for a fastball on the outer-half of the plate and when he got it, he drove it. The less-heralded hit was the single that Choo delivered to get on-base and make Asdrubal the winning run. He also got ahead 3-1 and sat on an inside pitch and ripped it into right field.

The Reds had been working Choo inside most of the night because of his ability to drive the ball off the left field fence on outside fastballs. The real story is how the Indians better hitters approached their at bats against a top-flight reliever like Chapman. Everyone on the team could take a page from that book because it is textbook and essentially the only way to consistently hit a guy with the stuff like that.

The Defense

There were several great plays on the night including a leaping catch at the wall by Brantley that was a lot tougher than he made it look, a heads-up play by Joe Smith on a bunt and a leaning catch in the stands that Kotchman made while battling an Indians fan who was more worried about a souvenir than watching his team win baseball game.

Brantley’s catch was so difficult because of the timing required to plant his foot on the wall while keeping his eye on the ball and glove-hand steady. He is starting to get a flare for the big-play and is looking a lot better out there in center. It still remains to be seen if his range is improved, but he definitely makes some great plays on balls he can get to. (One bad play was the double that Joey Votto hit, Brantley needs to cut that ball off, even if the ball is tattooed).

Joe Smith fielded a bunt slightly up the 3rd base-line with the speedy Willie Harris on 2nd base. He had no hesitation in firing to 3rd and Harris was out by a whisker (due to an ill-advised hook slide that caused his back foot to drag behind enough for Hannahan to apply the tag). The play was risky, but necessary at that point in the game. Both teams had trouble scoring runs and a leadoff double spelled trouble. Good teams not only possess the ability to make tough plays, but the intelligence to know the context of the game. Joe Smith had both last night and it very well could have been the difference.

The Takeaways

The Indians are back in 1st place in the AL Central following a White Sox loss to the Cubs. Justin Masterson will be looking to return the favor to the Reds after last week’s sweep in Cincinnati. You can’t say enough good things about the Indians pitching last night and the offense did just enough to pull out a much-needed win.

User Comments

June 20, 2012 - 12:32 PM EDT
How do you not mention Hanahan's play at third with the razor-sharp broken bat whirling by underneath him. For me, that was the most amazing play of the season.

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