The Indians had a mix of good and bad pitching performances over the weekend, as they lost to the San Diego Padres 11-8 on Saturday in Goodyear and lost to the Dodgers 5-1 in Glendale this afternoon. The World Baseball Classic participants will now be leaving camp, so it’s an opportunity for some players to have more opportunities to make an impression.
On Saturday, Ubaldo Jimenez started the game for the Indians and gave up 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 1 walk over 2+ innings. During Sunday’s radio broadcast, Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus said that Terry Francona saw some improvement in Jimenez on Saturday, despite the rough outing. Jimenez was fairly good during his first two innings, but then fell apart during the third inning as the Padres obliterated the Indians’ early 6-0 lead. As Hamilton and Rosenhaus pointed out – Jimenez had to stay in there until he hit his pitch count. You need to start stretching him out bit by bit, which means that he may have been out of gas by the time he reached the third inning. He finally left the game in that inning after failing to record an out. Even though it’s still early in spring training, it’s somewhat representative of Jimenez during the 2012 season – he’d start off sharp in a game, then would end up falling apart. I guess all we can hope for at this point is that Jimenez continues to improve from start to start. We may never see the 2010 version return, but they at least need to find a way to keep him from complete melt-downs.
As for the rest of Saturday’s pitchers – Edward Paredes followed Jimenez and gave up 2 earned runs on 3 hits over an inning pitched. Matt Albers continued to struggle this spring, pitching for an inning and surrendering an earned run on three hits. Jerry Gil and Scott Barnes were responsible for the Padres’ other runs – Gil gave up 2 earned runs on 1 hit and 3 walks over an inning pitched, while Barnes gave up a run on 2 hits in one inning pitched. Bryan Shaw, one of the other players acquired in this winter’s Shin-Soo Choo trade, had a good day as he gave up no runs on 1 hit over an inning pitched, striking out 2. Non-roster invitee Rich Hill has yet to allow an earned run this spring – he pitched an inning, allowing 1 hit. Matt Packer, who spent last season in Columbus, closed out the game by allowing no earned runs and 1 hit over an inning pitched.
Saturday’s big offensive performance came from a couple of Indians regulars – Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher. Cabrera went out with a bang before he departed for the Venezuelan WBC team – he went 3 for 3 with a double, a triple, and a stolen base. Swisher also went 3 for 3 with a double. The Indians put up most of their runs in the first inning off of Edinson Volquez; Ryan Raburn also hit yet another home run. While Raburn is bound to cool off some (it will be tough to maintain a .600 average throughout the rest of the spring) he’s making a great case on why he should make the Opening Day roster. Ben Francisco has also had a great spring thus far, but unfortunately he’s less versatile in the field and is more likely to draw the short straw. The Indians managed to put up two more runs in the fourth, while most of the regulars were still in the game. They were unable to score again after the substitutes entered.
In today’s game against the Dodgers, the Indians struggled to score runs and were burned by a 3-run home run off the bat of Yasiel Puig. The first few innings were a pitching duel between Josh Beckett and Corey Kluber. Kluber had a great day, as he pitched three innings, allowing no earned runs on 4 hits, striking out two. His last outing was shaky, but it sounds as if he was pretty impressive today. Vinnie Pestano had another shaky outing, as he gave up an earned run on three hits during an inning pitched. It was his last performance before he joins the USA squad to prepare for the WBC (the USA team has their first game on Friday night against Mexico.) Fernando Nieve gave up the Puig homer; his final line was 4 earned runs on 4 hits and walk over 1 inning pitched. Cody Allen, Nick Hagadone, and Matt Langwell all had solid performances – Allen and Langwell each pitched a perfect inning, while Hagadone pitched a scoreless inning, surrendering a hit.
Much like Thursday’s game against the Rangers, the Indians’ offense struggled – they got just 5 hits, and their lone RBI came off the bat of Juan Diaz in the form of a sacrifice fly. Yan Gomes went 1 for 2 with a walk, Ben Francisco went 1 for 1, Mike McDade went 1 for 3, and Tim Fedroff went 2 for 3. The only absolutely confirmed starter in today’s lineup was Michael Bourn; he went 0 for 3 as his spring average dropped to .071. It sounds as if he made a nice running catch in center field, and made the long run to the wall look effortless as he chased down a ball off the bat of Matt Kemp.
The Indians travel to Mesa tomorrow to take on the Cubs at 3:05 ET. For a moment I got excited, thinking that tomorrow’s game was set to be broadcast on the MLB Network. I realized that it was next Monday’s game (the 11th) that will be broadcast at a slight delay. I’ll be at next Monday’s game, so this doesn’t really help me at all…but keep it in mind so you can finally see the Indians in action. (It will be an Angels broadcast, but you can still catch it on the MLB Network…likely after the 1 p.m. Grapefruit League game is complete).