When the Indians traded Mark DeRosa to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009 for Chris Perez (and Jess Todd), Perez was grateful for the opportunity to close with a major league team. It seemed as if the Cardinals were more interested in bullpen prospect Jason Motte, and he was crowned closer of the future.
With the game on the line today in a 1-1 tie, the Cardinals went to Motte, the man that got the save in yesterday’s low-scoring 2-0 affair. Damon led off the inning with a single, and after a Shin-Soo Choo strikeout, Motte got a little wild. Everything seemed to be up and away, and he walked Asdrubal Cabrera to make it two on, one out for the Indians. Motte was wild with Jason Kipnis as well, and got a bit of help in the form of a strike call on yet another pitch up and outside. Rather than let the bad call get to him, Kipnis ended up hitting an absolute bomb off of Motte to give the Indians a 4-1 lead. Even though Chris Perez allowed a single to David Freese, his half of the 9th was fairly uneventful and he notched his 20th save of the season. For today at least, Perez may have given the Cardinals, and their fans, a twinge of regret for the one that got away.
Even though the decision in this one came down to the bullpens, Ubaldo Jimenez should get some attention and praise for his second great start in a row. He allowed 5 hits and 1 ER in 7 innings pitched; the only blemish was a first inning home run by Carlos Beltran, who leads the National League in homers. One slight mistake in an otherwise solid start. In my opinion the most positive aspect of Jimenez’s start today was the fact that he walked zero and struck out seven. There have been several times this season I’ve thought to myself, “maybe Jimenez has really turned the corner this time,” only to be severely disappointed in his next start. I’m really hoping that he continues to please fans when he takes on A.J. Burnett next Saturday against the Pirates. Jimenez and Justin Masterson both have had their share of struggles this season, but both pitched well enough to win this weekend.
Until the Kipnis home run, I thought I’d be writing a very different post about this game. It’s not that the Indians didn’t get hits today – the only starters in today’s game that didn’t get at least one hit were Carlos Santana, Jose Lopez, Lou Marson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Santana at least had the lone RBI for much of the game after he hit a sacrifice fly in the 3rd. The Indians left 10 on base, 5 of which were stranded in scoring position. Fortunately for the Indians, the Cardinals missed opportunities as well. In the bottom of the 8th, they loaded the bases with one out after a wild Vinnie Pestano walked three. Pestano managed to turn it around in the nick of time though, and all three runners were stranded with the score remaining 1-1. When you miss a golden opportunity like that, you’re often not likely to get a second chance. The Indians, and Jason Kipnis, made sure that the Cardinals did not.
The Indians remain the only team in baseball that the Cardinals have not won a series against.
UPDATE: Somehow I missed this. Chris Perez apparently got so excited he spewed all over the mound.
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