Tomorrow night, I’m heading to PNC Park in Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates take on the Houston Astros. I got my bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, so it’s always nice to visit the old stomping grounds. Plus my friend is an Astros fan, so he’ll get a chance to see his team in person. I’ve decided that there’s another benefit to this trip – the Pirates offense will make me feel better about the Indians offense. They’re ranked 30th in the majors, they’ve only scored 89 runs all season (the Indians have scored 140), and only three regulars are hitting above .250. I’m hoping this will make me feel better about the fact that the Indians stranded 14 runners on base tonight and seemed to miss multiple golden opportunities to exploit the soft underbelly of the Boston bullpen. Heck, they even missed chances to beat up on a vulnerable Clay Buchholz.
When this game started tonight, I anticipated a train wreck vs. train wreck scenario since Ubaldo Jimenez and Clay Buchholz have both been extremely shaky at times this season. Buchholz went golfing with Josh Beckett, so who knows…maybe there was some kind of golf-related curse that could affect him as well. Both struggled with command early and it looked like both may take an early exit. Buchholz skirted early trouble, while Jimenez seemed to get worse as time went by. When I can type this phrase – “Dan Wheeler pitched better for the Indians than Ubaldo Jimenez,” you know it wasn’t really a good night for Jimenez or the Tribe. You can tell early what type of Jimenez has showed up to that night’s game, the lights-out version, or the train wreck. At the point you realize it’s the train wreck version, you’ve almost resigned yourself to what type of game you’re going to see that night.
Perhaps that’s why the offense seemed to irritate me more? Because when you think about it, the bullpen did a respectable job of keeping this game close; the damage Jimenez caused could be undone with a few decent innings. Even though Johnny Damon actually got a hit tonight, I’m already kind of sick of seeing him bat. He’s become almost as big of a rally-killer as Casey Kotchman (who actually singled in the ninth inning tonight). You have the tying runs in scoring position in the ninth, and a closer (Alfredo Aceves) who has already been booed off the field in Boston a few times this year. A single from Damon could have tied the game, but instead his fly out ended it.
A few additional random bits:
– While I complain about Jimenez, it’s probably worth pointing out that Drew Pomeranz was sent down to Triple-A today by Colorado in order to work on his mechanics. He is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA.
– When Steve Smith was tossed from the game arguing the Jack Hannahan play at the plate, Manny Acta took over coaching duties at third. I’ve been making jokes lately about how Acta always seems to have on a different pair of glasses each game. Did he have to switch when he went out to third? Are there such a thing as “third base coach glasses” that are somehow different than “manager glasses?” Can he find some glasses that will help him see why Jimenez looks great one day (like he did against a tough Texas lineup) and just dreadful a few days later?
– Michael Brantley followed up on his hot night last night with 2 hits and 2 RBI this evening. I’ll ignore the fact that he blew one of the golden opportunities for more runs in the first inning. I’d suggest putting him back in the leadoff spot, but I’m almost afraid to mess with anything at this point!