Second Thoughts: Indians, Yankees split doubleheader
Indians score just one run in 17 innings, Masterson dominates game one
Monday at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario featured a traditional doubleheader against the Yankees, and a few people were actually there to see it and everything! The Indians scored a grand total of one run, but managed to split the day, thanks to the team's best pitching performance of the young campaign.
Insert "Master" pun here
I will spare you any more of those puns derived from Justin Masterson's last name because there are more than enough to go around every time he turns in a great start. Quite simply, he was dominant in game one.
Two of the four hits he allowed in his nine innings of work - both of the infield variety - came in the second inning (plus a walk). Aside from that bit of traffic, he pitched stress-free and without incident. The other two hits were yet another infield single and one that finally left the infield thanks to an Asdrubal Cabrera misread. Credit is due to Cabrera, however, as he saved what turned out to be an invaluable run in that second inning by keeping a hit on the infield with a great diving stab.
Masterson tied a career-high with 118 pitches. 79 of them (67%) went for strikes as he spent all afternoon ahead of the opposition. He threw 12 pitches or less in six innings, and only eclipsed 20 twice. His pitch usage held pattern for 2013: lots of sinker/two-seam fastballs, more sliders than in years past (particularly to left-handers) and a decent dose of the four-seam. I wish I could find/post a .gif of the two-strike slider he threw to Ichiro to end the eighth inning - filth. This refined repertoire may just be the key to his sustained success, and it has shown quite well so far this season.
The Bauer enigma
I have come to terms with the fact that Trevor Bauer cannot be judged the same way that other pitchers are. He prepares differently (well documented). He attacks hitters differently (he tries to pitch up in the zone). He has been asked to do a lot for this team (just three starts in 37 days).
Monday was both his longest start as an Indian (6.1 innings), and the one in which he threw the most strikes (58%). There's likely a correlation in there somewhere. He was probably left in too long, but that's not something we can criticize him for. Aside from that and a first inning in which he got no help from his friends, this was a strong start. To further expand on the point of more strikes, he improved on his 6.5 walk-per-game average by handing out just two.
The inning in question was the seventh. Bauer came back out with just under 100 pitches on the day, and surrendered bookend doubles with a botched sacrifice bunt attempt in between that prevented even more trouble for him. The inning would then go to hell when he was spelled, and he would be charged with a second run that he wasn't in the game for.
Like both his routine and the general perception of his introverted personality, Bauer's tenure with the big league club has been... different. For getting called on just three times over the span of five weeks (on the Major League stage, at least), he has been excellent. Performing well in the midst of that uncertainty speaks to his unflappable demeanor, mental toughness and general preparedness.
An odd note about the three games that he has started: all of them have been shutouts. Twice, the Indians; once, the other team.
Let's just pretend that didn't happen
Nick Hagadone was the pitcher to come on in "relief" of Bauer. His performance only relieved Yankees fans of not having to lose two games in a single day.
He was only able to record one out, and was waxed for four runs on three hits (plus a walk). More concerning was the fact that it was his second straight blow-up; he handed out three more runs on Saturday and wasn't able to get even one out then.
I am one of the biggest proponents of Hagadone out there. He is a potential backend weapon with two plus pitches and the ability to throw more than one inning if needed. Right now, though, he is throwing too many balls and too many hittable strikes. It is the classic recipe for failure as a pitcher: fall behind early, have to give in, get knocked around.
The offense takes a timeout
17 innings, one run.
The Indians' bats were bound to cool off at some point. It just so happened on a rare day that they played double the games. Jason Kipnis provided the lone crossing of home plate with yet another first-inning home run in game one. It should have resulted in two runs because Michael Bourn was hosed on a steal attempt, but that is neither here nor there.
After that, the lineup(s) went 9-for-58 the rest of the day, and 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The drought also came against less-than-imposing pitching, but I feel quite safe in saying that this was nothing more than the law of averages playing out.
With a doubleheader on the docket, a roster move was certain, as teams are afforded a 26th player for them. We got that before the game, and another that was less expected. Bauer was named the 26th man, but David Huff also came with him - at the expense of Lonnie Chisenhall.
The demotion comes off as a bit premature to me, but I imagine that most people will be fine with it or have even called for it before this. It's been six weeks. However, his issues remain the same. He will have to make an adjustment to left-handed pitching and generally increase his contact to improve. He knows that. We all know that. It's very fixable.
Up next: After Monday's pit stop in Cleveland, the Indians move on to Philadelphia for two games. The home team scored 20 runs in two games against them just two weeks ago. Scott Kazmir will take the ball Tuesday night in the follow-up to his wonderful start last Thursday.
I disagree with Seth - surprise! - there hasn't been any Hagadone mishandling - except maybe last year when his yo-yoing led to a self-inflicted broken hand and the subsequent union dispute over how much to pay him while he healed.
He has great stuff but has a problem with consistency. The guy gets wild and loses his confidence and gets shelled trowing BP fastballs.
The offense picked him up in Detroit after he destroyed a great Ubaldo start. He's used up all his 'left-handed' mulligan chips.
I like both moves - even though throwing Reynolds to 3rd in a doubleheader (where he immediately had an E) should stop.
Both Nicky and Lonny need to earn the right to play on a winner -rather than a celler dweller where devoloping latent talent in the Majors is the priority.
The latter is a big reason why the seats are empty.
Hagadone looked like crap, bad mechanics and nothing on the ball and no command. Huff- who couldn't get claimed on waivers had 2-3 MPH more on the ball than Hagadone, supposedly a "power" arm. Huff looked good, like he's mastered a swing and miss curve ball after 6 years- maybe there is something there now that was missing. Chisenhall going down, I don't like that on the surface, but I trust Francona. Cabrera is not hitting well at all- I would rather see Aviles play short againts lefties w Reynolds at 3rd. And while I'm on a rant, Michael Brantley needs to lose the sunglasses when he bats. Nobody should wear dark glasses in the batter's box, Nobody. I don't like them in the field either, while we're on the subject. The Indians took far too many plain strikes in game 2 yesterday, they just stood there transfixed. Maybe they were
I feel like they've mis-managed Hagadone as well, while it's up to him to perform, I'm sure it didn't help things how they kept sending him down to the minors. Since he's come back the second time he's been wild, but they've also forced him into a situation where he's bound to try to do too much, since even when he was pitching well he was shipped to Columbus twice. I have a bad feeling about the Chisenhall/Huff moves.
It's either feast or famine with this guy and you never know what you're going to get. He's been a classic talented-but-inconsistent pitcher ever since we got him. He still can't command his fastball.
I've never been a big David Huff fan, but he looked like a major league pitcher yesterday. He got his fastball up to 94 mph and was commanding all his pitches. I'm liking Huff and Hill a lot more than Hags and Barnes as our lefty relievers right now.
Nuno was outstanding. Too bad we let him get away. He's also the fastest working pitcher I've ever seen. But once he had to pitch from the stretch his control suffered. The key may be to slow him down and take him out of his rhythm.
I hate to see us get shut out by two rookies, but they pitched extremely well.
Three wins out of five against the Yankees and Tigers. I'll take that any day.
Chisenhall was a black hole in the lineup. The Indians are better with Reynolds at 3rd, which allows Gomes to catch and Santana/Swisher to share the 1B/DH jobs.
The Tribe lost with Gomes catching yesterday - only the 3rd time that's happened in 15 games. Sending Chiz down will get Gomes into the lineup more often, which is a good thing.