For all the rumors that center on the Indians in acquiring a starter at the non-waiver trade deadline, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that bullpen help might be taking a higher priority on Chris Antonetti’s shopping list.

Tonight’s offender is Joe Smith, who surrendered a back-breaking two-run double to the Blue Jays’ Munenori Kawasaki, who sliced the eventual game-winning hit. The deciding run would also score as speedster Emilio Bonafacio scored on Michael Bourn’s bobble. Thanks to Smith’s troubles, Rich Hill was saddled with the tough-luck loss.

Indians’ starter Justin Masterson (6.2 INN/4 H/2 ER/6 SO/5 BB) was solid, but his mechanics seemed off all night and to run out of gas with an out remaining in the seventh. Nursing a 1-0 lead and bases loaded with two outs, he surrendered a two-run single to Bonifacio. Preston Guilmet made his Major League debut in short mop-up duty.

But the story of the game is how the Indians let former Mafia member Esmil Rogers (6 INN/4 H/1 ER/7 SO/3 BB) off the hook early. Now a converted starter for Toronto, the Tribe seemed to have another “small village” of baserunners out there, but once again, failed to get the knockout punch.  From there, the stage was effectively set for the Blue Jay’s diminutive second baseman’s late heroics.

This sent a small, but very vocal contingent of Blue Jays fans bonkers.

The Indians made one final push in the bottom of the ninth. And Kawasaki nearly undid his clutch hit. With the Tribe down to their final out, Nick Swisher rolled over on a groundball that Kawasaki air-mailed over first-baseman Adam Lind’s head. Having scored two runs already against Jays’ closer, Casey Janssen, it set the stage for probably the hottest hitter on the team, Michael Brantley.

Who lined out on the first pitch from Steve Delabar, who relieved Janssen. Right to Colby Rasmus.

To make matters worse, the Tribe also fell back to 3.5 games behind the Tigers. They’ll try again to claim the series with a noontime matinee tomorrow with Danny Salazar making his Major League debut against the knuckleballer, RA Dickey.

And I might as well throw this out there: Can Andrew Bynum pitch?

W: Neil Wagner (2-3); L: Rich Hill (0-1); S: Steve Delabar (1)


  • The Doctor says:

    7-8-9 hitters: 3-9, 2R, 4 RBI, 3 BB. and the 6 hitter drew 2 BB as well.

    batting averages of the guys who hit 7-8-9 tonight – .111, .220, .208, .214

    as gob bluth would say, c-c-COME ON.

    i can ALMOST excuse the hits – even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes, but the walks, good lord. walking these sort of guys is MADDENING. they are the very definition of quad-A/”replacement players”.

    maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems like ever since the yankees sweep, 7-8-9 guys have just been battering us. i’d love for someone to pull the numbers on that, as i simply don’t have the time to do it myself.

    on a side note, swisher seems to possibly be coming around (batting .298 in his last 28 days), but he looks like a completely different batter with men on base – i have never seen someone who is so obviously pressing when he comes up with guys on.

    tough to win games when you go 4-14 with RISP and blow huge chances in the first and second innings to knock the starter out. what a frustrating game.

    • Chris Burnham says:

      Yeah, you shouldn’t be walking those guys. I’d much rather get beat by them hitting on than having it given to them because there’s a reluctance to throw strikes.

  • Andrew says:

    This loss is really all on Francona though. Anyone watching the game could see Masterson hit a wall in the 7th and yet Francona waited to pull him. Then, the decision to pull Hill was mind-boggling with 2 outs and a runner only on 1st. Having said that though, our starters inability to go much more than into the 6th is killing the pen.

  • DaveR says:

    Guys, the 2012 Indian’s starters were no studs. Everyone has been talking about a spent pen this half-season. I just did simple math on avg IP for 2012, Masterson(6.0), Jimenez (5.6) and McAllister (5.6). The so-called Bullpen Mafia had to pitch just as often last season. Maybe they were more relaxed because the team was down 11-2 by the 6th inning most games. This is like the 2011-2012 Browns having the a top 10 Passing Defense because everyone puts 200 yards on them via the ground game.

  • Thatoneguy says:

    6 innings is good from a starter. Bullpens are stocked well enough to handle 3 innings every night. 7 or more is awesome. Less than 6, ugh. Masterson has only gone fewer than 6 twice all year. His only problem this year is walks, but even then, look at his WHIP. Those walks aren’t even hurting him most games.

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