One bad inning

June 5, 2013

For the most part, Indians starter Scott Kazmir had a good game against the Yankees on Tuesday evening. He went six innings and only ran into difficulty in one of them. But that bad inning, in which he gave up four runs on five consecutive hits, was a very bad inning indeed. With the score 1-0 in favor of the Yankees, Mark Teixeira, who hit a grand slam on Monday, capped the inning with a three-run blast to left field. Not a bad performance for a guy who was on the disabled list a week ago.

Yankees starter David Phelps pitched very well, giving up only one hit and four walks over six innings. He was relieved by Joba Chamberlain at the top of the seventh inning. Chamberlain, whom I’ll never be able to think of without recalling the time the poor man was nearly pestered to death by midges, had a bad inning of his own. After walking Mark Reynolds, then giving up a one-out single to Mike Aviles, Drew Stubbs, batting ninth, hit a home run to right on a fly ball which would have been caught at the warning track in most other MLB parks, and probably at least one or two softball fields, to bring the Indians within a run.

The Tribe tried to rally in the eighth, when Jason Kipnis walked to lead off the inning, followed by a Michael Brantley single. Nick Swisher then hit a line dive which Yankees second baseman Jayson Nix caught. Nix then tossed the ball to shortstop Reid Brignac, thus retiring Kipnis, who broke with the crack of the bat, and stifling the rally.

Reid Brignac, by the way, is an anagram for cigar binder, or acid bringer, or carbide ring. If that information isn’t part of the Yankees media guide, it should be. Feel free to make up your own anagram for Reid Brignac. There are many.

The game ended as Yankees games so often do, with closer Mariano Rivera pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Rivera got a little unneeded help from home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. With two out, Rivera’s first pitch to Mike Aviles was high, and it bounced off the mitt of Yankees catcher Chris Stewart. Aviles, who didn’t swing at the pitch, naturally thought the count was 1-0, and was visibly upset to see the scoreboard show a count of 0-1. He turned to Randazzo, who apparently thought that Aviles had fouled off the pitch. Indians manager Terry Francona came out to argue, but Randazzo, who for all we at IPL know had to hurry to get to Peter Luger’s after the game, didn’t want to hear about it. Two pitches later, Aviles flied out to right, and the game was over, Yankees 4, Indians 3. Aviles then sought out Randazzo to tell him he blew the strike call, which caused the angry Randazzo to eject Aviles from the game which had ended less than ten seconds earlier. In a season which has seen so many inexplicable bad calls, this kind of thing just seems par for the course.

Of course, I’m not saying that call cost the Indians the game. It’s hard to beat the New York Yankees when you get only four hits. Since the Tigers won, the Tribe has fallen to two games out of first in the AL Central. They’ll have to find a way to beat C. C. Sabathia today to avoid their fourth consecutive loss. Given the Indians’ propensity for beating Cy Young winners this season, maybe they will do just that.


  • The Doctor says:

    you’re absolutely right, the call in the 9th didn’t cost them the game – it was the other 30 odd strike calls on obvious balls that had a larger impact on the outcome.

    Randazzo was easily player of the game for the yankees. when you’re forced to defend a strike zone that extends into the other batter’s box and which spans from ankle to chin height, it can be tough to score runs. the fact that the tribe somehow managed to draw 6 walks is impressive – if he’d been calling anything that remotely resembled the strike zone we could have had 15.

  • Cale says:

    I hate using the arguement that a strike zone cost the team a win. It’s something that is beyond the control of the players, and a good team should be able to adjust accordingly. Randazzo was calling that low strike all game long…it shouldn’t have been a surprise in the 8th inning when it was called a strike again. It’s like saying the wind cost us a game because that warning track fly ball would have been a HR. No one ever complains about that.

    It seems more like a easy excuse for a team that is struggling all around right now. The pitching isn’t performing like they did during that good run in the beginning of May, they’re only averaging 3.5 runs per game over the past 2 weeks when they were up around 5.4 runs per game earlier in the season.

    • The Doctor says:

      i disagree – it always drives me crazy when whoever is calling the game on tv/radio suggests that the players should just “adjust” because they “know the umpire is giving the pitchers that strike”.

      i just find it incredibly difficult to believe that when you’re a professional ballplayer who has been conditioned for 15+ years to understand what is a strike and what isn’t, that it’s easy to simply (for any one individual game) go, “oh ok, this weird non-strike zone thing is what the strike zone is for tonight, no problem.”.

      i mean, sure, the players are of course going to swing at more questionable pitches if they know the pitcher is getting a lot of questionable calls, but that’s exactly why it makes it harder to win.

      and besides, even if they “knew” those pitches at ankle height were strikes, what are they supposed to do about that? even if “adjusting” to the faux-strike zone on an individual game basis is a real thing, there’s no way you’re going to get a hit swinging at pitches at your ankles (unless of course, you’re vlad guererro).

      • Cale says:

        That strike zone exists for both teams, and it varies EVERY game. No 2 umpires call the exact same pitches balls and strikes. There’s a general guideline they all try to follow, but it’s going to vary by nature because you have human interpretation involved. If they want a uniform strike zone every single game, they need to introduce technology to do so, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

        One team is going to win either way, it just wasn’t the Indians tonight because they left too many walks (especially leading off the inning) on base. New York capitalized in the one real chance they had by getting 5 straight hits. Cleveland did not by having 2 on, no out in the 5th and 8th. Simple as that.