Hey, we won a game!
After a nightmarish road trip that saw the Indians drop six straight games in California, the Tribe returned home and promptly trounced the White Sox 12-5. This game was long, and not nearly as easy to watch as the score might indicate.
The game started off with a flourish, as the Indians plated five runs in the first inning. Michael Bourn made two of the three outs in the inning (Elliot Johnson — more on him in a minute — made the other out), but at some point in the first seven straight Indians reached base. It was an impressive start for a team that was frustrated and (frankly) embarrassed on the West Coast.
Of course, this game would not be so easy for the hometown Tribe — why would it be? After the team scored those five runs in the first, the defense helped Danny Salazar give three of those runs right back. After a leadoff walk in the second, Elliot “Designated For Assignment” Johnson dropped a perfect feed on a would-be 6-4-3 double play, resulting in no outs and several runs for the White Sox. I am as cynical as they come, and even I can’t fault Salazar for throwing nearly 50 pitches in two innings — he basically had to get 8 outs to get through two innings, and that’s a shame.
Elliot “DFA” Johnson would go on to drop another perfect double-play feed later in the evening, but the Indians offense was just too powerful on this evening.
Carlos Santana (who I wrote about earlier in the week) is finally driving the ball over the wall, but also getting some of his line drives to fall in. He went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored on the evening.
Michael Brantley, who either went 0-for-California or came very close, was back in Dr. Smooth form tonight — he had three hits and three RBIs.
Yan Gomes continues to struggle defensively, but his offense has been very impressive for the catcher position. I could write an entire article on Gomes’ struggles in the field, but I really feel like his errors are the result of over-thinking or over-playing after signing the big extension. It’s been ugly for the first month of the season, but when you hear Gomes talk (as he did in the postgame interview) he demonstrates a high level of self-awareness. I remain convinced that Gomes’ defensive stats will normalize soon, and he will remind us why he was so sensational behind the plate in 2013.
Danny Salazar was okay tonight. He struck out six, but only lasted five innings. You could pin some of that on the shoddy defense around him, but he still walked three and allowed seven hits. He was charged with three earned runs in five innings (2 unearned runs also scored), and that seems fair. He probably didn’t deserve to win, but he got his first win of 2014 nevertheless.
Tomorrow the first pitch is at 6:05 pm (adjust your baseball clocks!). Justin Masterson (0-1) will go against right-hander Scott Carroll (1-0, and yes, I had to look up his first name). The Indians should win this game, but they should also be better than 12-17, too. Masterson needs to get his first win of 2014.
Overall, the team is still struggling, and many of their warts were on display Friday night. But… we won.
And winning is what matters.