So I wrote this post the other day about how I never have a good experience on Opening Day.  I’m proud to say that the streak stays alive!  This afternoon when I was waiting for the game to start, I had this post planned about the magic of Opening Day (even if the Indians lost).  I have pictures on my camera of the balloons being released before the game, of Omar Vizquel tipping his cap to the crowd in pre-game introductions; I wanted to share those pictures and talk about the fact that I even like to see folks like the assistant trainer and clubhouse manager introduced before the starting 9.  That was before I sat outside in the freezing cold for over 5 hours, watching an absolutely dreadful game unfold.  I have no desire to share pictures, or talk about anything warm and fuzzy.  It was an historic game for several reasons – largest attendance for a home opener at Progressive Field, and the longest opening day game in major league history.  To go with this “historic” theme, I also have an historic level of anger and frustration right now.

Where do I even begin?  Why don’t I start at the point that the train really went off the rails.  Heading into the 9th inning, I was feeling pretty good.  It was sunny, I was still relatively warm (I took a lot of warm clothes) and the Tribe was up by 3.  Justin Masterson had pitched an incredible game, and was at 99 pitches after the 8th.  I knew it could go either way, but I was really hoping that Masterson got the opportunity to pitch a complete game.  He gave up just 2 hits and one earned run, striking out 10.  That run was a Jose Bautista home run, so making one mistake to a great hitter isn’t exactly terrible.  From the second Chris Perez came into the game, I had a bad feeling.  I even turned to my dad and said, “We should just go now and pretend they won 4-1.  Then never check to see if it ended otherwise.”

Nevermind the fact that Perez basically had just a week or two of spring training.  From the minute he started to pitch, you could see where this was headed.  He had no control, he was barely touching 90 mph on the gun…the Indians are lucky he only gave up the three runs, to be honest.  The biggest mistake that Acta made, in my opinion, is that he didn’t have anyone even warming up in the bullpen until the game was already tied.  It was so obvious that Perez just didn’t have it, yet he just let him stand on the mound and make a fool of himself.  When he threw inside and knocked a Toronto batter down, I actually screamed, “Toss him!  You issued warnings!”  Just hoping and praying that the umpire would make the move for Acta.

So the game is tied, what’s done is done.  Vinnie Pestano came in and got out of trouble; he probably should’ve been called upon in the first place if you’re not going to stick with Masterson.  He was followed by Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, both of whom did well.  To be fair, even Jairo Asencio did well for a few innings; I was really shocked when he was sent out there for a third inning (the 16th).  He was able to get out of trouble in the 14th and 15th, but by the 16th his luck had run out and J.P Arencibia (previously 0-6 on the day) took advantage of his mistake.

I’m not even that mad at Asencio, to be honest.  Because by that point, the offense had umpteen chances to end this game and choked on every one of them.  Honestly, I would still be sitting there, frozen to my seat, if Arencibia hadn’t mercifully ended the game.  The Indians scored all of their runs in the second inning and were shut out for the next 14 innings.  That’s like being shut out for almost a game and a half.  The lineup was without the big bats of Travis Hafner and Shelley Duncan after they were removed for pinch runners, but they still managed to put together opportunities, that they would later blow.

My personal favorite offensive chokes: Hafner makes it to second and Jason Donald enters as a pinch runner in the bottom of the 9th.  Aaron Cunningham manages to lay down a nice sacrifice bunt to move him over to third.  All Casey Kotchman had to do was hit a ball out of the infield, yet he grounded out to first.  I have to say, it’s almost impressive that Kotchman came to the plate seven different times today, yet never got a ball out of the infield.  That’s a level of lousy that almost takes some skill.  Then in the bottom of the 12th, the bases are loaded with just one out.  Now this…this is where the Indians end it in a walk-off.  Their big hitters – Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana are coming to the plate.  Again, a simple fly ball could even send everyone home happy.  Luis Perez was kind of wild for Toronto at that point, he’d already given up a single and walked two.  If I’m Asdrubal Cabrera, I make him work for it.  I stand there and make him throw the ball over the plate with no room for error.  Instead, he swings at the first freaking pitch and grounds into a double play.  They almost deserved to lose after that.

I could go on all night about this.  In fact, these few things I’ve mentioned made me so mad, I feel like maybe I should just go ahead and start complaining about them a second time for good measure.  The bottom line is that this game was poorly managed, and poorly played by almost everyone whose name was not Justin Masterson or Jack Hannahan.  I have tickets for Saturday, and I don’t even want to go anymore.  What I saw today left me feeling a sense of defeat and surrender that I’ve never really felt on opening day before.  This was the kind of game where you snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Before my dad left to drive home he said, “So what if you get stuck with another extra inning game on Saturday?”  This was my response: “Well, since Jimenez is pitching, I imagine he’ll give up a good 7 or 8 runs before the 4th inning.  Dan Wheeler will be sent in for mop-up duty, and he’ll give up another few runs.  This offense looks so pathetic, they’ll be lucky to score 2 runs…it will definitely end by 9 innings.”

And THAT is the level of faith that I have in the Indians at this point.


  • Brenden Lowery says:

    I definitely feel the same way Stephanie. After watching Masterson dominate for 8 innings, I cringed seeing Perez come out for the 9th. You could tell he was not ready mentally or physically to be in that game. I was particularly annoyed by Acta deciding to bring Pestano in AFTER the game was tied as well. I know it is just the first game of the season, but I think Perez is already on the hot seat and one more outing like today should displace him from the closer role. All in all, just a terribly managed game by Acta.

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    And I particularly enjoy the fact that you tagged the word garbage with this post!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    What was so infuriating was that he didn’t even have anyone *warming up* until it was tied. I kept looking back at the bullpen after every freaking pitch, since I knew how it was going to end. That’s what made the whole thing so terrible. Was he worried about hurting Chris Perez’s feelings?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Oh, and garbage was the nicest of the words I originally had as a tag.

  • Will McIlroy says:

    Thoughts of a random mime:

    — Cabrera’s at bat looked like an ego play, not a professional hitter

    — With Kotchman’s approach at the plate I’m not sure how he ever squares the ball up; his glove does play, though

    — Interesting Acta never got Wheeler up and left Asencio in for a 3d inning, yet he insisted Wheeler make the team over Hagadone or Accardo

    — Only a one game sample but Asencio was afraid to throw a fastball and looked suspiciously like Jose Veras and Luis Vizcaino

    — Painful to watch

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    I just cracked up when I realized that you tagged the post with “garbage.” And as to Will’s comment, I still cannot explain why Cabrera decided to swing right after the 4 pitch walk. I am absolutely baffled by that approach. Hope these next 161 are better than the 1st.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I will give Kotchman that – he made a nice defensive play to prevent even more runs in the 9th. Looked like he had a couple of nice stretches at first too.

    And you’re right about Wheeler – he’s on the team, but obviously Acta doesn’t feel comfortable using him in close situations. And what about Rafael Perez? He had some injury issues this spring, but is not on the DL and is on the roster. What happens when he’s finally in a game? Duplicate of Chris Perez?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier – Brenden, I hope you’re right and that one more bad outing does knock him out of the closer’s role. My fear is that he just keeps putting him out there every few days because “he’s the closer” or some dumb crap like that.

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    Well, Acta does like to stick with players until its incredibly painful to watch…we may have to watch Chris Perez for a couple of months unfortunately.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I’m afraid you’re right, unfortunately.

    Side note: My d-bag husband keeps putting the replay of the game on, just to watch me get worked up. It looks even worse now that I can see everything up close.

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    Ouch, you must really be pissed, considering the use of the word garbage, and now d-bag. I just cannot imagine how Justin Masterson feels. He poured so much energy into his start today, and he pitched magnificent. I just hope that Masterson ND’s not become a regular occurrence in 2012 like they were in 2011.

  • Rick in Austin says:

    I just started reading your blog, and just loved feeling the distain in your observations. I live in Austin and am a diehard Cleveland fan and listened to it on the radio. You just hate to see a team screw up tactically like Cabrera did with a man on 3rd one out and Acta going by “his book” vs. trying to win. Its only game one, but this could really be damaging to this team…no faith in closer = starters press…hitters want to show they can hit us out of a slump = too anxious. This is supposed to be a 85 win team this year…lets see if this team has smarts and guts to play to their potential this year!

  • Rick says:

    As sorry as the Perez situation is, I’m much more worried about the offense. As much as I hate spring training records/stats/anything, it seems like the spring trend of over reliance on the home run has carried into game one of the regular season.

    No timely hitting = long season.

  • Scott says:

    Well, I’m actually more disappointed in the offense than Perez here. Even Acta can be excused to a point. You’ve got to push across a run in those opportunities. Leaving Perez in is debatable, but closers are touchy. It might have been better to let him blow this one than to quick hook him and send a signal in the first game that you don’t trust him. If you pull him there you might have to be ready to make Vinny the closer immediately. (Agreed, maybe not the worst idea)
    This almost makes me nostalgic for Borowski (who probably would have given up 2 runs, had the bases loaded, and gotten the last guy to line out on a 3-1 count on a ball that nearly takes off someone’s head.

  • Cathy says:

    Not that I watched or listened to much of the game. All I could say, first ball swinging with bases loaded and the pitcher having control issues.

  • Mike H says:

    So true – Cabrera’s at bat summed the whole damn feeling up. The fact that nobody even came out to talk to Perez makes me sick – this wasn’t a bang-bang implosion, it was a long slow burn of horrificness. I have no problem with him bringing in the closer – that’s what you do, especially after 99 pitches in the opener. But to not be able to handle the situation after that is what makes me sad and disappointed.

  • Frank says:

    I wasn’t able to watch…or even listen to the 9th (I live in New Orleans – and my work place locks MLBtv down like it’s carrying a contagion) but watching the Gamecast on ESPN was a exercise in frustration. It would take awhile to load and then in rapid fire sequences you’d get updates bang-bang-bang…and watching that little blue line run all over the field when Perez pitched was like watching a machine gun nest take out guys storming a beach.

    I dunno…Manny says he’s got a better team this year than last, and baseball is about 162 games, not one – so I’ll give them 3 weeks and 6.5 games back of DET before I rule on this year’s edition.

    However, the most emotionally depressing part was blowing the game for Masterson – he deserved that one.

  • The Doctor says:

    no mention of jack handy’s inexplicable decision not to take 2nd on the pitch that got away down the 3rd base line? granted, asdrubal’s decision to swing on the first pitch was concentrated idiocy, but that was a close second.

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    I think if the Indians had a game like this at the end of April, or beginning of May, we would not be as angry. Opening Day brings a lot of expectations for every team, and yesterday’s loss really hit home for many fans, myself included. Justin Masterson pitched excellent, and the bullpen besides Perez threw well. I just feel like the Indians had many chances to win the ballgame in extra innings, and did not come through not only because of mental mistakes, but also because of mismanagement by Acta.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    First, I would like to state that I feel like I have a hang over today even though I had nothing to drink yesterday. I think it’s from rage. I don’t know what to call that, but I’ve been going with rageover for most of the morning.

    Brenden – If I were Justin Masterson, I would’ve set something on fire. Thankfully, I’m not Justin Masterson. Also, I was trying to think about why this game made me so mad…I think it’s because it was so long, while it was so cold outside. I swear it felt like 12 losses.

    Rick in Austin – I’m glad you pitched in on the discussion! I think listening on the radio curbs some of my anger sometimes. At least I would’ve been warm if I stayed home and watched it or listened to it!

    Rick and Scott – I’m disappointed in the offense as well. It got to the point that I realized they weren’t going to score again…it was just a matter of when Toronto would finally put the game out of its misery.

    Cathy – It’s merciful that you did not watch/listen to this.

    Mike H. – Yeah, when I think about it I’m way more angry that Perez was left to flounder. I at least give him credit; he showed up after the game and took the blame for it.

    Frank – That happened to me one year. I wasn’t able to get off work, and watched the game cast online. There would be nothing for a few minutes, and then all hell would break loose! Masterson did deserve that one though, I felt bad for him.

    The Doctor – Yeah, I forgot about that one. It looked much worse when I saw a replay this morning.

  • The Doctor says:

    I’m with you, I feel like I’m hungover from watching that debacle as well (though I’m partially actually hungover, but I’ll blame that on the game, too). What really disappointed me was how similiar that game felt to pretty much all of last year – particularly the 3rd inning. I feel like I watched that inning 25-30 times last season. First two guys get on, then one of our leadfooted oafs bounces into the DP, but, hey at least we still have a guy on third with a chance to get at least one! Then of course that ridiculous decision to try and dash home on that ball that wasn’t nearly far enough away from the plate to risk doing home on. Ugh, just typing it out makes me feel ill all over again. That double play, the Cabrera double play, and Kotchman’s inability to hit that one out of the infield are all going to haunt me for the next couple of weeks, until the next disgrace, of course. Seems like someone needs to remind them of when they’re supposed to try and uppercut the heck out of the ball.

  • Jeremy C says:

    There shouldn’t even be a “closers” role! It should just be your best pitcher in the bullpen which is definitely not Chris. The amazing thing was when he came into the game, half the people at the there (including me) were probably joking to the person next to them how he was going to blow the game!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    There was a lot of deja vu moments between today, Thursday and last year. Very frustrating.

    Everyone cheered Perez when he came in today (before he ever threw a pitch). It’s like they forgot what happened Thursday!

  • andrew says:

    Are you sure the cheering wasn’t from all of the Toronto fans attending the game? In all seriousness nice to see Perez come in and get the job down after the error.