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Second Thoughts: Game #38 - Mariners 5, Indians 6

Second Thoughts: Game #38 - Mariners 5, Indians 6
May 18, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
SEA 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 5 8 0
CLE 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 2 6 10 1
W: J. Smith (4-1) L: B. League (0-3)

Pre-Game Notes

Let me start off by saying I did not watch this game. The noon start time, coupled with the lack of a telecast prevented me from watching or listening to the game. I did however follow along (to the best of my ability) while at work using MLB.com's GameCast feature and I scoured the Internet for video clips and play-by-play after the fact.  Anyway, let’s get on with it.

After an ugly ending to the Boston series the Indians have been beating up on some lesser teams, sweeping Minnesota in a 2-game series and taking it to the Mariners on Wednesday night.  So the Tribe entered Thursday afternoon's game riding a three-game win streak.  While it was a quick turnaround the Tribe had to be hoping that they could continue their hot streak against Mariners starter Hector Noesi, who hasn't exactly been lighting up opposing hitters.  The Tribe would counter with Zach McAllister who in limited duty this year has pitched well, turning in a 7 inning, 4 run performance against Boston and a 6 inning, 2 run performance against the White Sox.

What Went Right

Starting Pitching

- McAllister labored through 5 2/3 innings.  He did not seem to have great control and he was constantly falling behind hitters.  In spite of this he only gave up three earned runs, almost earning himself a quality start.  He ran into trouble with walks, giving up five free passes on the day.

-  McAllister did have six strikeouts and gave up only three hits.  When he keeps the free passes under control he may prove to be an effective starter.

Offense

- The clutch hitting finally came through again.  After struggling with runners in scoring position in the early going the Tribe bats woke up just in time again finishing the game 4-12 w/RISP.  This team just doesn’t give up.  If they are in the game, they are going to make it a game.  It’s a wonderful thing because you never want to give up on them.

- The clutch hitting started with Jose Lopez bashing a three-run, game-tying home run in the 8th, notching him three, 2-out RBI on the day. Asdrubal Cabrera chipped in with a 2-out RBI as well.

- Cabrera absolutely laced his RBI single to right in the 11th.  Santana, Hafner, Kipnis and Choo are all good hitters but Cabrera is such an important part of this team.  When he is clicking in the number three hole everything comes together nicely.

- It was great to see Santana put up a nice left-handed at-bat in the 11th.  He didn’t try to do too much with the bases loaded and the game on the line.  As he said in his post-game interview, he just focused on making solid contact, and going back up the middle.  Exactly what he needs to do to find his groove from the left-hand side.

- Jose Lopez really turned on that ball in the 8th to swat his second home run of the year and completely change the dynamic of the game.  I like Jason Donald a lot, but this is why Jose Lopez is a better fit for this team.  There was a time when he was a really good hitter, with substantial power from the right side.  Exactly what this team needs, and hopefully he is starting to find it.

Bullpen

-  Six different Tribe relievers combined for 1 run over 5 1/3 innings.  There are moments when this bullpen falters but in reality it is the greatest strength of this team.

- Over 5 1/3 innings the Tribe pen gave up 5 hits, 1 ER and 2 walks while putting up 8 strikeouts. A bullpen like that will keep you in a lot of games and as we can see if this team is in the game, they have a shot to win it.

- With all that being said Chris Perez looked a little shaky out there yesterday. He managed to escape without any damage but he made it interesting.

- Jeremy Accardo continues to pitch well.  I always thought he should have made the team out of spring training over Wheeler.  I understand Wheeler had a nice track record and it was worth a shot, but I think Accardo will be a nice piece for this bullpen.

- Joe Smith gives up the go-ahead run and then gets the win.  A few nights ago he pitched to one batter and got the win.  Thus proving that wins are a completely unpredictable and ridiculous stat.

What Went Wrong

Starting Pitching

- McAllister certainly had some control issues yesterday.  It's difficulty to know how accurately the GameCast feature is tracking pitches but regardless 5 walks in 5 2/3 innings is not going to cut it, even against teams like the Mariners.

- Side Note:  If GameCast was accurately tracking the pitches there were some absolutely terrible calls on both sides. Kipnis took a ball at one point that GameCast tracked almost right down the middle.  Either their system needs recalibrated or the umpires do.

- It took McAllister 100 pitches to get through those 5 2/3 innings, with only 55 of those pitches going for strikes.  To make matters worse, only 15 of the 26 batters he faced saw a first pitch strike.  It doesn't matter what kind of stuff you have (and McAllister's stuff is not really that special), if you are pitching from behind you are going to struggle.  Double that when you are giving up a walk an inning.

- McAllister had four groundball outs compared to seven fly ball outs.  Again, that's a difficult way to make a living, especially with runners littered all over the bases every inning, and being a sinkerballer to boot.

Offense

- Johnny Damon.  Johnny Damon.  Johnny Damon.

- Casey Kotchman and Jose Lopez should both be embarrassed about having to hit behind Damon right now. Damon is rarely driving the ball and looks more anxious than usual at the plate.

- It only makes sense to bat Damon 9th right now.  He is currently the worst hitter on the team but he does have speed and should have on-base skills.  If you bat him ninth you don’t squash rallies with his poor at-bats and if he does get on the lineup rolls over to Choo and Kipnis.  Maybe he would get better pitches to hit with Choo behind him rather than Kotchman.

- Eight walks and 10 hits equals 18 baserunners.  That’s quite a few opportunities for the Tribe.  Unfortunately they left 13 of those runners on base yesterday.  There will be days where the Indians pay dearly for this habit.  Yesterday was almost one of those days.

Defense

- Defense is hard to grade when you can't actually see the game or at least have a radio announcer describe it to you but some defensive miscues certainly cost the Indians on Thursday.

- Carlos Santana seemed to have a rough day behind the plate.  Between being charged for a passed ball and not being able to throw out either Brendan Ryan or Dustin Ackley on a double steal Santana didn't quite have it on defense yesterday.  Maybe he was a bit worn out on the quick turnaround, who knows, but yesterday was not a great day for Santana defensively.

Random Notes

Seattle closer Brandon League has now blown 7 of his 9 career save chances against the Indians . . . League is 2-5 with a 9.18 ERA against Cleveland in his career . . . Today the Indians will get their first taste of interleague play in 2012 as they square off against the new look Miami Marlins . . . The Marlins will start Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 1.88 ERA) against Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.40 ERA) at 7:05 in Cleveland . . . The Marlins have the most runs, hits, doubles, and RBIs all-time of any National League club in the history of interleague play.

User Comments

Tony
May 18, 2012 - 9:24 AM EDT
One thing I continue to take away from these games is the Indians are not even close to hitting on all cylinders, yet they are 22-16. The offense has been inconsistent and the rotation has had some good outings but has been inconsistent as a whole in itself. Only the bullpen has been rock solid all year. This pales in comparison to last year when they raced out to a 30-15 start as they were clicking in all three phases. Give me hope their success to date is sustainable and that they could get better once they get in sync.
Rich
May 18, 2012 - 7:22 AM EDT
I watched the game on Extra Innings. McAlister's command came and went. Twice he walked the #9 hitter (Ryan) on four pitches. Ryan is hitting .137 and was 0-for-17. There were times when McAlister just could not throw a strike.

That being said, of the 20 hitters he did not walk, only 3 got base hits, so when his pitches were over the M's could not square them up. If he can just keep his mechanics in line he can be fairly effective.

Santana did not have a bad day defensively. He was crossed up on the passed ball and the stolen base was on the pitcher.

The home plate umpire was totally incompetent, missing ball/strike calls all day. He even screwed up an obvious call on a dropped pop-up in fair territory. Another umpire had to overrule him as he apparently didn't understand the rule. At least he didn't favor either team with his bad calls.

The main thing to get out of this game was that the Tribe never quit, coming from behind twice late in the game. Acta said that even after falling behind in the 11th everybody was saying let's go, we can win this, which they did. Game 1 they trashed the M's best starter and Game 2 they trashed their closer. A real nice series and the kind of games the Tribe needs to consistently win to stay in the picture.

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