On May 21, 2009 Jeanmar Gomez pitched a perfect game for the Double-AA Akron Aeros, striking out eight and throwing just 87 pitches. Almost three years later to the day, Gomez wasn’t quite perfect against the Miami Marlins…but he was still awfully good. Through six and a third innings Gomez allowed no runs on just three hits, striking out four and walking two. Anibal Sanchez was almost as good – he pitched seven innings, allowing 2 runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking two. The Indians were able to exploit his mistakes, as Asdrubal Cabrera homered and Jason Kipnis knocked Shelley Duncan in on a sacrifice fly.
As good as Gomez pitched today, the bullpen was even better. Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez combined to pitch a perfect 2 and 2/3 innings; Perez struck out the side in the ninth and made the Marlins hitters look lost and foolish. With the Marlins’ pitchers dealing as well, there was little room for error from the Tribe’s staff. They really stepped forward and held the Marlins’ offense in check.
So far, the series with the Marlins was billed as a potential pitchers duel, and it has yet to disappoint. Carlos Zambrano and Justin Masterson, both with their share of struggles on the mound (Zambrano prior to this season and Masterson, this season) pitched a great game on Friday evening. Sanchez (2-2, 2.32 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) has had a good 2012 season so far, and outside of the one blip against the White Sox a couple of weeks ago, Gomez has been strong as well. Tomorrow’s game has Marlins ace Josh Johnson going against Derek Lowe, the man who has stepped forward as the most consistent pitcher for the Tribe this season.
I’ve always thought highly of Gomez since his days in Akron, and I’m really glad to see him finding his spot in the Indians rotation. If Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez hadn’t had his “issues” this offseason, Gomez would have started the year in Columbus rather than Cleveland. Sure, he would’ve probably gotten the call-up once Josh Tomlin was injured, but he’s been a treat to watch this year (outside of that one forgettable game).
As a side note, attendance at Progressive Field was much higher last night and today. Roughly 30,000 saw last night’s game, and today’s attendance was announced as 29,799. While I ultimately want fans to come out and see this team (they’re often quite fun to watch, despite their offensive issues), I have to admit that I selfishly enjoy when there are only about 10,000 people at the park. It brings out the die-hards first of all, and everyone seems much more engaged/interested in the game on the field.
Today marked my 14th game of the season (12 Indians and 2 Pirates games) and only the second time this season that there were more than 15,000 people at Progressive Field with me (the other game was Opening Day). I feel I should mention this, since I wrote those fandom posts – half of the people around me were driving me nuts today. Some were so drunk they could hardly stand up. One guy in front of me (loudly) kept trying to start the wave. It obviously just wasn’t happening…he wasn’t about to give up though. (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?…HELL NO!) In the mad scramble for a free t-shirt, someone punched me in the head…hard. Nobody apologized, and when the stray shirt pretty much landed right in my lap, the guy in front of me ripped it right out of my hands. This was despite the fact that he’d already caught two other identical t-shirts earlier in the game, and didn’t have any children with him or anything.
So while I’m glad that attendance is better, since this team deserves to have fans cheering for them, I guess I’ll have to get used to the negatives that come with that fact!
EDIT: And speaking of fans, apparently Chris Perez had quite a mouthful about the fans after the game today. Ripped the attendance and said he understood why Carlos Beltran preferred St. Louis over Cleveland. Also expressed anger over being booed on Thursday against the Mariners. While I get the frustration, and in many ways it’s justified, to me it’s kind of a slap in the face at the fans that have been coming out to see the team. Diss people for not coming out, but acknowledge the fact that there are a few die-hards that stick with this team no matter what.