June 20, 2012

On Monday, it was Asdrubal Cabrera Bobblehead Night at Progressive Field. The first 15,000 fans got to take home a bobblehead doll of the Tribe’s shortstop. Although he did draw a walk and score a run, Cabrera didn’t have a particularly great day at the plate on Monday, going 0 for 3.

The Cleveland Indians didn’t give out any bobblehead dolls on Tuesday, but Asdrubal Cabrera gave Indians fans something they’d probably rather have. With the Indians down 2-1 in the tenth inning, and with Shin-Soo Choo on first base, Cabrera hit a walk-off home run to right field, giving the Indians a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

The game started in an all-too-familiar fashion. Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who entered the game with a first-inning ERA of over 11 on the season, gave up a double to Reds leadoff batter Zack Cozart. Tomlin then threw a wild pitch while facing the next batter, Chris Helsey, allowing Cozart to advance to third. Helsey then beat out an infield hit, scoring Cozart and giving the Reds a 1-0 lead before some fans were able to get to their seats. With the best hitter in baseball, Joey Votto, at the plate, the Reds were poised to do more damage. But Tomlin got Votto to pop up to short, then got Brandon Phillips to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

The Indians tied the game in the fourth inning when Casey Kotchman’s single scored Carlos Santana, who had led off the inning with a double. Thanks to solid pitching and good defense, the score remained 1-1 until the tenth inning, when the Reds took a 2-1 lead due to two wild pitches by Indians reliever Nick Hagadone. The first wild pitch allowed Chris Heisey to advance from first to second. Votto’s infield single got Heisey to third, and the second wild pitch allowed him to score.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman came out to try to save the game for the Reds. After retiring Lonnie Chisenhall on a fly ball, Chapman gave up a single to Choo. A few pitches later, Cabrera sent Indians fans home happy with his walk-off homer, the first of the season for the Indians. They won seven games that way in 2011.

More good news for Indians fans: the White Sox lost to the Cubs, giving the Tribe the lead in the AL Central for the first time since May 28. Before you start planning your postseason parties, though, take a look at the AL Central standings:

The Indians have a run differential of -38, which means they’ve allowed 38 more runs than they’ve scored so far this season. The White Sox have a run differential of +26. With just over 40% of the season completed, it’s not very common for a division leader to have a run differential which is 64 points worse than that of the second-place team. Over a 162-game season, there is a very high correlation between a team’s run differential and its winning percentage, which is why the Indians’ projected chance of making the playoffs is 17.8%, while that of the White Sox is 65.4%. If the Indians legitimately want to contend for the AL Central title, or even for one of the two wild card slots, they simply have to get that run differential figure turned around, and that might not be easy to do. For example, if they were to outscore their opponents by two runs in each of their next 19 games, and of course that isn’t going to happen, the differential would be 0. On the other hand, a good old-fashioned 15-3 blowout here and there could help immensely!

The Indians have a chance to sweep the series on Wednesday, something they haven’t done since they took three from the Tigers in the third week in May. Let’s hope they can pull it off.

Yeah, I’m on Twitter: https://twitter.com/VernMorrison


  • Norm says:

    If you look at our record in one run games (12-2) it means either we are lucky (we are) or we have a good bullpen (we do). Hopefully those things will keep up for the rest of the season.

  • powza says:

    Starting pitching needs to step up. It was good to see Tomlin bounce back after the first innings today, but lately, apart from Masterson, every other starter has been pretty ordinary.

    • Swift says:

      I’m only being semi-funny, but for some starters, “pretty ordinary” would be a step up. Jimenez looked “pretty ordinary” in his last start, but the last 2 or 3 have been better. For the season, he has been less than ordinary.

      Gomez has looked much worse than ordinary lately, as has Lowe.

      If, as a whole, the starters ranged between ordinary and pretty good, we’d be fine for starting pitching.

  • Mike says:

    Norm, our bullpen stats are pretty dismal. However, when pitching with a lead, our big three of Smith, Pestano, and Perez are pretty much lights out.

  • Drew says:

    Out of curiosity, I ran some numbers and determined that when the Indians win, they do so by an average differential of 2.6 runs. When they lose, they lose by an average of 4 runs. Furthermore skewing these averages is that the Indians have +31 run differential this season in 57 games and -69 differential in 10 games.

    So as long as they keep winning by small margins and getting blown out when they lose, does it really matter? I know the correlation exists, but this team may be an outlier. For example, take a look at the pitchers who have the highest ERAs, 3 of top 5 are no longer with the team and two of those that were DFA’d were long-relief guys who only came in when the Indians were already being blown-out. It would be interesting to see if either Dan Wheeler or Jairo Asencio pitched in each of those ten worst losses.

    I would be willing to say that this trend cannot persist. Either this team is a lot worse than their record and they have been lucky to win, or they have DFA’d their bad eggs and that the run differential will improve.

    • Drew says:

      Just wanted to add that when the team wins by an average of only 2.6 runs, each of their wins on average is a save situation. This is why Chris Perez leads the MLB in saves. Contrasting the awful Asencio and Wheeler, those who contributed massively to the blow-outs, those who pitch in close games – Perez, Pestano, and Smith – are outstanding.

      Also went back and looked – Dan Wheeler or Jairo Asencio pitched in 4 of the 10 worst losses. Scott Barnes, also optioned to Columbus, pitched in 1, and Jeanmar Gomez, a pitcher I expect to take the trip down I-71 pitched in one.