It is a good thing I am comfortable staying up past 2 AM on a semi-regular basis. After writing about the 13 inning contest last week against the Orioles, tonight I am recapping a game that spent almost as much time in delay (2:39) as it did in actual game action (3:05).
I think Dick Goddard needs to take a trip to Chicago to teach their meteorologists how to better predict rain, as the start of the game was delayed by about 41 minutes over the fear of a storm at U.S. Cellular Field. Very little rain fell during this pregame delay, pushing an 8:10 scheduled start time back to almost 9 PM. The only good news to come out of this delay was that I was able to watch a good chunk of the season premiere of America’s Got Talent.
I was looking forward to the pitching matchup of Justin Masterson and Chris Sale because I was hoping Masty would rise to the occasion and break out of his season long slump. In the first inning, Masterson was flustered, walking two and loading the bases, but he got out of the jam without giving up a run. After a 1-2-3 second inning, Masty allowed three hits in the third, including an RBI single off the bat of Conor Gillaspie. On the other end of the spectrum, Sale mowed through the Tribe lineup through three innings, facing just one over the minimum while not allowing a hit.
Before the fourth inning could begin, the game went into rain delay again, this time for just under two hours (1:58 to be exact). During this time, STO played plenty of highlights of old walkoffs, including Kelly Shoppach in 2007 and Jason Giambi last season. STO also decided to air some player specials, including one on Nick Swisher.
When play resumed, both starters’ nights were over. Gordon Beckham made the score 2-0 in the fifth with a solo homer off of Mark Lowe. Terry Francona then decided to use both Josh Outman and John Axford in the inning and I cannot figure out why. His micromanaging is risky because it leaves the bullpen nearly empty should games go into extra innings. Maybe I am still slightly paranoid after back-to-back 13 inning games last week, but no team ever wants to run out of relievers.
The Indians finally got on the board at 1:09 AM eastern time, when Lonnie Chisenhall scored on a Mike Aviles fielder’s choice. Lonnie came into the game as a pinch hitter in the fourth inning before leading off the seventh with a single off of lefty (!) reliever Scott Downs. David Murphy followed the Chiz kid with a single of his own, and Lonnie hustled to third. Jake Petricka relieved Downs and got Aviles to hit into a fielder’s choice at shortstop, but it was good enough to cut the deficit lead in half. Francona’s micromanaging side reappeared when he attempted a hit and run with the light hitting Justin Sellers at the plate. Sellers couldn’t quite make contact and Aviles was hung out to dry.
Mark Rzepczynski pitched a scoreless seventh, even with mud building up under his cleats. At one point during the inning, he even asked for more dirt on the front of the mound. It was not enjoyable watching U.S. Cellular grounds crew move at the speed of post office workers to try and fix the problem.
Michael Bourn led off the eighth inning with a single, career hit number 999, but the Tribe could not capitalize as Asdrubal Cabrera popped out and Michael Brantley grounded into a double play. In the home half of the inning, Cody Allen pitched for the first time since May 22nd and showed some signs of rust. Alexei Ramirez fouled out to first base, where Lonnie Chisenhall made an impressive basket catch while on the run. Allen then allowed a single to Dayan Viciedo before tossing up a meatball to Paul Konerko. Michael Bourn made a spectacular play in center to rob Konerko of a home run. Alejandro De Aza followed Konerko with a double to put runners on second and third, but Allen was able to strand both runners by getting Tyler Flowers to ground out.
Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect ninth inning to get his third save of the season. At 1:54 AM eastern, Lonnie watched strike three fly by and umpire Ed Hickox rang him up. Scott Carroll got the win and improved to 2-3 while Justin Masterson took a tough luck loss, falling to 2-4.
The Indians did not make an error tonight and the pitching staff did a good job in allowing just two runs. At 24-29, the Tribe fall to 7.5 games out of first place. The Indians had eight hits, once again all singles. This is their third straight game with no extra base hits, a feat last accomplished by the 105-loss 1991 Indians. During their current three game losing streak, the team has scored a total of five runs, making it nearly impossible to stay competitive.
The Indians look to avoid a sweep tomorrow night when T.J. House goes up against Hector Noesi. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM, barring the threat of more rain.