Daisuke Matsuzaka had a solid outing for the Indians as he threw three innings, allowing 0 earned runs on 5 hits as the Indians beat the Giants 4-3 in Scottsdale this afternoon. It sounded as if this was his best outing to date, and that there was some good movement on his pitches. If he and Scott Kazmir both pitch well this spring, it could create a predicament when the Indians go to set their Opening Day roster. With Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers and Zach McAllister penciled into the starting rotation it really only leaves one spot available. If both Matsuzaka and Kazmir earn a spot, it will probably be McAllister that draws the short straw since he still has options remaining.
Joe Smith, Bryan Shaw, David Huff and Joe Martinez also pitched today. Smith was knocked around a bit, surrendering 2 earned runs on 2 hits in an inning pitched. He’s just working his way back from an oblique injury, and this is the first game action he’s seen since he dialed things back. Like Matsuzaka, Huff also pitched three innings and gave up 1 earned run on 3 hits and a walk. While Huff formally hasn’t been excluded from winning a spot in the starting rotation, I find it hard to imagine a way that he does so. He’s extremely inconsistent and there are a number of more viable options. He could make the bullpen as a long relief arm, especially since it sounds like Frank Herrmann’s injury may be serious. (He could require Tommy John surgery). Huff needs to work on his control, and staying ahead in the count. Batters were hitting .500 off of Huff when they got ahead in the count 2-0. Shaw and Martinez each pitched a perfect inning to close out the game.
As for the offense, the Indians scored 3 of their 4 runs on the long ball. Nick Swisher, Juan Diaz, and Roberto Perez all hit solo home runs during the game. Perez, who played at Double-A Akron last season, hit his in the top of the ninth, representing the go-ahead run for the Indians.
In other news:
This is a bit off-topic (but not that off-topic, since all teams have baseball academies in the Dominican Republic) – A story just came out about a young player that died at a Washington Nationals academy in the Dominican Republic. The story itself shines a light on some of the issues that you see in places like this, and I think it’s a really good (and sad) read. You can find the original story here, as well as a follow-up here.
The Indians are back in Goodyear tomorrow, where they take on the Dodgers at 3:05 ET.