The first two times that the Royals’ rookie pitcher Jake Odorizzi went through the Indians’ lineup, he baffled everyone except for Shin-Soo Choo. When he entered the sixth inning, the only two hits allowed by Odorizzi were singles by Choo in the first and third innings. With a 1-0 lead by the Royals, I started to wonder if a good start by David Huff would be wasted by the offense’s inability to solve Odorizzi. Once the Indians faced the young pitcher for the third time in the sixth, it seemed as if they had finally figured him out. They put three runs on the board in the inning and never looked back. From the sixth inning on, the Indians scored 15 runs and collected 14 hits. In two different innings (the 7th and the 9th) they sent 11 men to the plate.
So just how rare was this offensive explosion by the Indians? This is the most runs the team has scored all season, and their largest margin of victory as well (15-4). This is only the second time the Indians have scored double-digit runs since the All Star break; the other time came on July 18 against the Rays when they won 10-6. If you look at the entire season, this is only the seventh time that the Indians scored double-digit runs; three of those seven came against the Kansas City Royals. (The Indians beat the Royals 11-9 and 13-7 on April 14-15). Everyone in the lineup got a hit except for Lou Marson, although Marson did manage to walk three times. Carlos Santana had a huge day as he went 3 for 6 with two home runs and five RBI. In fact, at least everyone in the starting lineup had an RBI except for Michael Brantley and Lou Marson.
I’ve said a number of times that I don’t trust David Huff on the mound on most days. If he’s not locating his fast ball, the day can get really ugly, really quickly. He can seem fine, and then everything just seems to fall apart. When he gave up the home run to Adam Moore in the third inning, I immediately thought “oh boy, here we go.” However, Huff buckled down and did not allow another run. In fact, he only allowed three hits in his 5 2/3 innings pitched. I don’t know if I will ever be fully trusting of Huff (I’ll still be hesitant the next time he pitches) but it was nice to see a Tribe pitcher that didn’t let the game get out of reach in the first inning or two of the game.
The only negative I can point to in this game is Tony Sipp’s brief appearance in the 8th inning when the Indians were up 8-2. This is a non-pressure situation, a chance for Sipp to come into the game and get some work without automatically giving up a ton of hits or home runs. After he gave up two runs on three hits in just 2/3 of an inning, Acta had to pull him and go with Joe Smith. I’ve always liked Sipp, and he put together a great 2011 season. I hate to think that last season was a fluke, but there’s a realistic chance that he doesn’t make this team out of spring training next year. With Rafael Perez injured most of the year, the Indians really needed Sipp to step up and be a reliable left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. Alas, he has not been.
One last thought – I hate to end this post as a buzz kill, particularly when the Indians had a great performance today. However, I got to thinking about something after Tom Hamilton pointed out that the Royals had gotten Odorizzi in the Zach Greinke trade with Milwaukee. The Royals also got shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, as they also sent shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee in December of 2010. This meant that the Brewers gave up a great deal of talent to get a Cy Young-winning pitcher, even if they were assured at least two years of Greinke. I don’t think you could really compare this to the Indians’ deal with Milwaukee involving CC Sabathia (it was only a part-season rental), but the Cliff Lee deal is probably a fair comparison. All four of the players the Royals received are expected to have an impact in the majors, so it seems as if (barring injury and other bizarre things) the Royals really made out on this deal. On the radio, Tom Hamilton actually compared it to the Sizemore-Phillips-Lee deal for Bartolo Colon. While I’m not sure if it’s quite as good as that, it’s still an excellent deal. Escobar was one of the players mentioned when the Indians sent Sabathia to Milwaukee, but Matt LaPorta appeared to better fill a need at the time. I guess I’m just wondering what might have been, if the Indians would have gotten a better return for at least a year and a half of Cliff Lee. This team may not have as many gaping holes right now.
The Indians will now head to Chicago and have a chance to play spoiler – the White Sox and Tigers are neck and neck, and the Indians play the Sox six times in the next week and a half. We shall see if they look like the Indians of today, or if they look more like what we’ve come to expect – lots of runs surrendered and a sputtering offense.