This game came down to a battle of the bullpens; you knew as this one progressed that the first bullpen to blink would be the team to lose the game. Due to a two hour and three minute rain delay prior to the 3rd inning, the night’s starters, Justin Masterson and Doug Fister, were done after just two innings on the mound. Overall, there were 439 pitches thrown in this game – 220 by Cleveland and 219 by Detroit in the longest game either team played this year. Of those 220 pitches, the Cleveland bullpen threw 183 and of their 219 Detroit’s bullpen had 180. After the second inning, Detroit only had a total of 8 base runners, while the Indians had just 5 before they loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 14th.
When Kosuke Fukudome came to the plate in the bottom of the 14th, he was 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts. I didn’t have much faith in him at that point, and I secretly hoped he’d just strike out for a 5th time – I didn’t want him to end the inning with a double play. In a bizarre turn (which fit with the somewhat bizarre game), Fukudome was hit by a pitch from David Pauley with a 1-2 count for the walk off hit by pitch. (I should also mention – this was the Tribe’s first walk-off hit by pitch since Alex Cole was beaned in June of 1991 against the Toronto Blue Jays). So in baseball this season there have been walk off walks and a walk off balk; now there’s a walk off HBP.
Of course the Tribe had a chance to win this one in the 8th when Jason Donald pummeled a double off of the outfield wall to lead off the inning. At that moment, Manny Acta looked pretty smart. Donald was pinch hitting for Lonnie Chisenhall, who was having a pretty rough night (0-2, including grounding into a double play). So Acta’s decision to go with Donald appeared to be a good one. Before the inning was over, he made a decision that did not pan out nearly as well – Michael Brantley attempted to sacrifice squeeze Donald home. The pitch from Daniel Schlereth was way outside and Brantley wasn’t able to get his bat on it; Donald was nailed well before he made it to the plate. Brantley hit a fly ball to left that was relatively deep; it’s possible that could’ve provided the go-ahead run. I’m less annoyed about this whole scenario since the Tribe won!
Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore update: Choo went 0-2 at Lake County last night, and went 0-2 again tonight. It sounds like they want to have him move through the minor league system over the next week, upgrading him to more advanced pitching every few days. If all goes well, Choo could be back within a week or two. The news is significantly less positive for Grady Sizemore – it sounds like he’ll be back in late September, if at all. I said before I didn’t expect him back this year (I don’t think he ever fully healed in the first place), so this news just confirms what I already expected.
Some random thoughts from this one:
- I’m now fully aware that Jerad Head is the Indians’ minor league player of the week. Thank you for showing that commercial a bazillion times tonight.
- How many foul tips nailed Carlos Santana tonight? Not only did he catch for 14 innings, but he was getting knocked around quite a bit while doing so.
- I’m going to Wednesday night’s game, and for a little while I started to think I may end up actually seeing the tail end of this one instead. You know, because they’d still be playing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. I’m sorry, that was a lousy joke…I need sleep.
- Did you notice who was warming up in the bullpen, if the Indians wouldn’t have won this one in the bottom of the 14th? Josh Tomlin was set to go in when Frank Herrmann came out of this one.
- The entire bullpen contributed to this one, putting up 12 scoreless innings. The bullpen was knocked around a bit on the road this past week, but they certainly made a strong statement about their abilities tonight.
- What if the starters get into trouble early on Wednesday night? Maybe we could see a pitching matchup between Austin Kearns vs. Miguel Cabrera? Because that would be a nice night for Tribe fans if we were assured that neither of those guys would be hitting during the game.