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Second Thoughts: Game #32 – Red Sox 7, Indians 5

Second Thoughts: Game #32 – Red Sox 7, Indians 5
May 12, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLEVELAND 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 5 12 0
BOS 2 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 x 7 12 1
W: C. Buchholz (4-1) L: U. Jimenez (3-3) S: Aceves (6)

Player of the Game: Dustin Pedroia (3-for-4 with 3 RBI, extending his hitting streak to 12 games). The Red Sox second baseman has now gone 4-for-9 in the series against the Tribe, with a double, home run, and 4 RBI.

The Leadoff

It was another roller coaster ride for the Tribe on Friday night in Boston as the Red Sox scored early and never looked back, winning the second game of the four-game series at Fenway Park, 7-5. The Indians did battle back and make the game interesting after being down 7-1 early, but there would be no late inning heroics for the best road team in baseball on this night. Boston starter Clay Buchholz gave up just three runs on eight hits against the Tribe offense in 6 1/3 innings, notching his fourth win of the season.

Any Tribe fan could have easily mistaken Ubaldo Jimenez for Fausto Carmona (Roberto Hernandez) in this game, as the one time ace struggled with his control on the mound once again. The Indians starter went just 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits walking five and striking out four. This looks like it’s just going to be a reoccurring thing for the Tribe right hander as the season progresses…is there even something that can be fixed?  

The Top 9

  • Tribe made a game out of it. Though the rally ultimately fell short, it was nice to see the Indians make the comeback they did after being down six runs by the fifth inning. Not many teams can consistently dig themselves out of a big deficit and make a game out of it, so it goes to show both fans and other teams around the league that the Tribe will not go quietly in defeat.  
  • Walk the walk. The Indians had another six walks on Friday, increasing their already big lead in the majors in team walks. What is interesting is 11 of the last 12 teams to lead the big leagues in walks by the end of the season, have all made the playoffs. What if?
  • Manny Acta coaching third base. After third base coach Steve Smith was ejected from the ballgame after arguing with the home plate umpire Derryl Cousins that Jack Hannahan was safe at the plate, Indians skipper Manny Acta came out and coached the hot corner the rest of the game. Not many managers would put a helmet on and try to be more involved in the game being on the field, but I guess that’s just Manny being Manny.
  • Everyone contributed 1 thru 9 in the lineup. Only Asdrubal Cabrera was left without a hit in the ballgame as the Tribe banged out 12 hits against the Red Sox for the second straight night. I don’t know what it is, but the Indians always seem to hit well at Fenway Park…if only they can start playing as well at Progressive Field as they have been on the road so far this year.
  • Cutting back on K’s. Even though it came with two men on and one out in the ninth inning, Jack Hannahan had the lone Indians strikeout on the night, showing that the Tribe put the ball in play against the Red Sox all night. If they have any chance at winning the series, the Indians need to keep making contact and finding holes around the diamond.
  • Bullpen Mafia gave the Tribe a chance. After Jimenez exited after just 4 1/3 innings, Dan Wheeler and Tony Sipp put up zeros on the board for the final 3 2/3 innings. While they aren’t viewed or looked to like setup men Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano, both Wheeler and Sipp did a nice job giving the Indians bats a chance to comeback.
  • Kipnis continues Fenway tear. With another two hits against Boston on Friday, Jason Kipnis continues to rake the ball at Fenway Park. Like his opposing second baseman, the Indians slugger is also 4-for-9 in the series so far.
  • Still in first place. Even though the Indians have now lost three out of their last four ballgames, they still remain in first place. The main key for the Tribe now is to try to win the series, which is something Cleveland has done in three of their past four series.
  • No Valentine in Cleveland. Yes it’s early, but I cannot be happier that the Indians organization chose Acta as manager over Bobby Valentine who interviewed to be the Tribe skipper back in 2010. Acta may not have the track record that Valentine has, but then again the new Boston manager may not have a job at all by the end of this season.

The Bottom 9

  • Ugh-baldo. He may have showed signs of finally regaining his form in his previous outing against Texas, but at no point did Jimenez show any sign of consistency last night. In his last three starts, the Indians right hander has now given up 16 walks to only 11 strikeouts. Four of his five walks against Boston also came when he was pitching out of the stretch…could that be his problem? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Giving up too many walks. Not only does Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Indians starter Justin Masterson is right behind him giving up the second most walks in the big leagues. Ubaldo has walked five or more batters four times this season and Masterson has done it three times. Way too many free passes to give any team and with an already up and down Tribe offense as well.
  • Leaving 14 runners on base. The game could have been very different even if the Tribe left 10 runners on base instead of 14. Opportunities to take advantage and drive in runs only come around so often, and the Indians did not capitalize with a big hit when they needed it the most.
  • Where’s Johnny? Don’t get me wrong, I like Johnny Damon both as a player and the veteran leadership he brings with him to the Tribe, but so far in his 10 games with the Indians he hasn’t looked anything like the Damon we all know he can be. We’re talking about a guy who hit .261 and had 16 home runs with Tampa Bay last season, not to mention his 73 RBI and 19 SBs as well. If he wants to stay around if and when Grady Sizemore comes back this year, Damon has to start producing at the top of the lineup.
  • Not getting the leadoff man on. It wasn’t until the eighth and ninth innings that the Tribe got the leadoff man on to start off an inning. The Red Sox on the other hand had their leadoff man reach in four of their eight times during the ballgame.
  • Not holding the early lead. I don’t care if they are in last place or first place, it’s never good letting Boston rally to take the lead right back in the first inning. This hasn’t happened much this season with the Tribe having good consistent starting pitching, but with Jimenez on the mound last night that’s another story.
  • Wheeler of fortune. Yes, he pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, but I can’t see Dan Wheeler lasting much longer in the Tribe ‘pen if the Indians are really serious about contending for the American League Central Division crown. While he does give the Indians a veteran presence in the bullpen, he reminds me too much of what Chad Durbin was last year. Just a reliever with a 5.00+ ERA who is way past their prime. Wheeler has six walks in his 11 1/3 innings with the Tribe this season and just two strikeouts. The Indians have also lost the game in eight of his 11 appearances as well. Coincidence?
  • No big bats off the bench. With the Tribe down by two with one out and Brantley on first in the ninth inning, in stepped Casey Kotchman. While the first baseman did get a clutch hit, I couldn’t help but think about the Indians subbing Kotchman for a pinch hitter. Looking at the bench though with the likes of Jason Donald, Aaron Cunningham, Shelley Duncan, and Lou Marson I thought otherwise. We just do not have a bat on the bench we can consistently go to in late situations like this. There could be a case made for Duncan, but he is hitting just .159 against right-handers compared to .278 vs. lefties.
  • Michael Brantley clutch, but not clutch enough. Brantley did not capitalize on two big opportunities for the Indians early in the ballgame. The Tribe center fielder grounded out with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, and flew out with runners on second and third with two outs in the third inning. I like him hitting seventh, but Brantley has to get some runs home at least in one of those key situations.

Closing Time

The loss still keeps the Indians (18-14) in first place, two games ahead of second place Detroit in the Central Division. It also marks the first time that the Tribe has lost on a Friday night this year. Cleveland would now need to go 12-1 over their next 13 games in order to match the 30-15 record they had at the start of last season.

Up next for the Indians: The third game in the four-game series against Boston on Saturday, as it will be Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.67 ERA) vs. Felix Doubront (2-1, 5.01 ERA) at 7:10 pm. This will be the first time the Tribe will face the lefty Doubront as a starter.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

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