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Second Thoughts: Game #75 - Indians 7, Orioles 2

Second Thoughts: Game #75 - Indians 7, Orioles 2
June 29, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 3 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 7 9 0
BAL 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 7 1
W: Z. McAllister (2-1) L: W. Chen (7-4)

The Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles squared off in Baltimore Thursday night, the first in a four-game set with serious implications for both teams.  Both the Tribe and Orioles came into the series with their seasons heading in the wrong direction after hot starts.  Zach McAllister was called up Thursday to replace Jeanmar Gomez in the rotation.  On the flip side the Orioles called on lefty starter Wei-Yen Chen to try and right the birds flight path.

Scoring Recap

The Indians struck first, with Johnny Damon hitting a three-run homer in the 2nd, after Jose Lopez singled and Michael Brantley walked, to put the Indians up 3-0.  Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo homer to left field to make it 4-0 in the fifth.

J.J. Hardy answered in the fifth with a two-run shot, cutting the Indians lead to 4-2.

Lou Marson doubled with one out in the seventh and Choo followed with a walk.  Orioles manager Buck Showalter had seen enough of Chen and pulled him in favor of Luis Ayala who promptly gave up a three-run bomb to Asdrubal Cabrera to make it 7-2 Indians.

What Went Right

Starting Pitching

Zach McAllister – 5 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 K

- McAllister pitched well, despite giving up a two-run shot to J.J. Hardy in the 5th on a hanging slider.  He was spotting his fastball very well, despite home plate umpire Joe West’s squeezing of the strike zone.  McAllister didn’t have all of his pitches working and he performed well, exactly what the Indians needed.  If he can continue to give the Indians quality starts he is in Cleveland for good.

- At 105 pitches Wilson Betemit doubled down the right field line with two outs in the 6th and Manny Acta pulled McAllister in favor of Joe Smith.  A move that was probably necessary as the Indians could not afford to let this game slip away.

Offense

- The Indians came in tied for last in the American League in home runs and facing a left-handed starter.  It certainly didn’t look like a promising night for the Tribe to regain their offensive form, but . . .

- The long ball finally showed up for the Tribe.  Cabrera, Damon and Choo all hit home runs to give the Indians the burst of offense they have really needed lately.

- More importantly perhaps is that the Tribe put 16 runners on base (9 hits and 7 walks) including 9 base runners against the lefty Chen (6 hits and 3 walks).

- Michael Brantley had a nice night getting on base four times (2 hits, 2 walks). 

- Kipnis did not register a hit, but did walk twice

Bullpen

Joe Smith/Esmil Rogers – 3 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

- What can you say really, the numbers say it all.

- Joe Smith came in when it was close and easily got through 1 1/3 and Rogers cut through two perfect innings, notching all three strikeouts.  Bravo.

What Went Wrong

Starting Pitching

- McAllister worked out of a few jams but one thing it seems he needs work on is holding runners on.  When Matt Wieters steals second you know there is a problem.

Wrap

The offense has been the subject of so much animosity and grief over the last week it’s easy to forget that the reason for the Indians success thus far has really been the starting pitching.  When the starters give them a chance to win, usually they scratch enough runs across to do so.  Damon’s three-run blast in the second certainly helped McAllister relax and pitch with the lead and the offense that followed was just the icing on the cake.

Derek Lowe (7-6, 4.28 ERA) will square off Friday night against Jake Arrieta (3-9, 5.55 ERA) in the second game of this series.  The Orioles have lined up lefty starters for the Saturday and Sunday games so the Tribe needs to win Friday if they want to guarantee the split.

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