Second Thoughts Game #7: Yankees 11, Indians 6
Yankees pound Ubaldo and Indians pitching
Baseball returned to Cleveland yesterday. Optimism surrounding the Indians was in the air and everywhere to be seen downtown. That is, until Ubaldo Jimenez fell into a familiar set of bad habits, and a familiar face crashed the annual party.
Don't let an average spring and one start fool you. This is still the same Jimenez that we have seen before. He continued to be a mechanical disaster, as evidenced by a number of bounced pitches - both straight and breaking - early on in this game. He didn't have a feel for any one pitch, and anything that did manage to find its way around the zone tended to get hit hard and far.
It also didn't help that Jimenez's velocity was down from the first start in Toronto. He was sitting 89-91, as opposed to 92-94 then. Whether he is traded, released, or moved to the bullpen, I firmly believe that the Indians' number two starter will not finish this season in the Indians rotation.
A quick answer
After a three-run top of the first, the Indians responded in a way that felt like a bit of Opening Day magic. After a leadoff walk drawn by Michael Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a hard groundball back up the middle. What might have been a double play turned into a single when the ball found second base and deflected into the outfield. Three batters later, Brantley hit a similar ball to the right side of the infield. Nick Swisher, running from first, managed to dance his way into the fielder's line of vision and the relatively routine play turned into another single. Despite how the game ultimately turned out, the lineup did an excellent job of answering right away.
As if Jimenez allowing seven runs over his 4.1 innings didn't create enough of a deficit, the bullpen suffered a huge letdown when Matt Albers and Rich Hill spelled him to allow four more runs. The offense made a late push that would have been far more threatening if the battle didn't feel like such an uphill one. There was a very clear deflation throughout the stadium during the middle innings that the Yankees owned.
Steady diet of breaking balls
While poor pitching was clearly the determining factor in this game, and six runs scored is a good amount, the team did collect 17 baserunners and strand 10 (including six in scoring position).
Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, Yankees pitchers threw a combined 90 breaking balls in this game (of 198 total pitches). 53 went for strikes, 17 of the swing and miss variety. It seemed clear that their plan was to attack the Indians' lineup with soft stuff, and it worked. They struck out 13 times, the highest total so far this season. One pitch really stood out to me: a 3-1 breaking ball to Mark Reynolds in the first inning... with the bases loaded. Whiff. He swung right through a breaking ball right over the plate. He did end up putting a run on the board with a sacrifice fly, but get used to seeing teams pitch backwards to them, and especially to him.
Santana stays locked in
So as not to be a complete downer about the holiday that is Opening Day, I would be remiss not to mention Carlos Santana, who continued to roll. He reached base three more times, and is now 13-for-26 on the young season, six of which have went for extra bases, and has four walks and just two strikeouts. As expected, the removed pressure of him no longer having to be the centerpiece of the offense looks to be paying off in the early going.
Speaking of Santana, he was removed in the ninth inning after getting crossed up by a Chris Perez pitch and taking it off the exposed part of his catching hand. Luckily, X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. And more positive news on the catching front: Lou Marson replaced him, which seems to insist that he is fine after Saturday night's scary collision at the plate.
Next up: Game two of the home-opening series against the Yankees and of a 10-game homestand. Carlos Carrasco will make his first start in 20 months.
Bring up Hagadone
unfortunately thats how it all went yesterday...