One Bad Pitch

April 3, 2013

This was one of those games where you find yourself thinking, “oh boy…here we go.”  The Indians managed to pull ahead 2-1 in the top of the eighth, setting the stage for the duo of Pestano and Perez.  Perez comes into the game and and with one bad pitch surrenders a solo shot to Jose Bautista.  I immediately thought that this could be the beginning of the end for the Tribe.  Toronto has some big bats in that lineup, even if they’ve been silent for much of the series thus far.  One more bad pitch, one more swing, and the Blue Jays were going home with the W. Fortunately for the Indians, they weren’t the team that would make the final, fatal flaw.  The next bad pitch would come from Sergio Santos and Mark Reynolds didn’t let him get away with his mistake.

The Indians’ offense wasted a number of opportunities, many of which started with the hot bat of Michael Brantley.  Ubaldo Jimenez never really even gave Toronto that many opportunities.  Like Perez, and like Santos, he made just one bad pitch to Maicer Izturis, the Blue Jays’ number 8 hitter, and Izturis hit it out.  That was the only run Jimenez would allow over six innings; he allowed just three hits, striking out six and walking two.  As Ryan M. mentioned recently, Jimenez’s improved control was key.  He limited his walks in spring training, and he did the same tonight.  In fact both walks came with two outs and nobody on, and neither led to any damage.  Jimenez had nice movement on his pitches and kept the Toronto hitters off balance.  Even though we haven’t seen much from their offense over the past two games (they’ve scored just three runs combined between last night and tonight) it could be because the Indians’ pitching shut them down.  Masterson had some control issues last night, and you got the feeling that things could have unraveled for him at several points during the game (even though they did not).  Jimenez seemed to be in command the entire time tonight, outside of that one bad pitch to Izturis.  In the bottom of the sixth, Jimenez got a third strike call on Jose Reyes when he painted the inside corner.  Reyes was irate over the call, but it was a brilliant pitch.  If he locates his pitches that well all year, we could maybe finally exercise the demon known as “bad Jimenez.”

Prior to the broadcast of the game tonight, the STO/Fox Sports crew showed a private moment between Michael Brantley and his father Mickey as Mickey appeared to give Michael some batting advice.  I’m not sure what his dad suggested tonight, but perhaps they should talk before every game from now on.  Brantley, who went 1 for 2 with 2 walks last night, went 4 for 5 tonight with an RBI and a run scored.  I’m a big fan of Brantley’s, so I’m really hoping this is the start of a really great season for him.

Since I mentioned the offensive positives (Brantley and the Reynolds bomb) I have to also mention the negatives.  The Indians stranded 10 runners on base tonight, and outhit the Blue Jays 10-5.  While I’m glad the Indians were able to pull out the win in extra innings, if they would’ve plated a few more of those base runners, they never would have put themselves in that position in the first place.  Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall just looked bad tonight; everyone has a bad night now and again, but Kipnis really struggled this spring.  I hope that he just hasn’t found his timing yet, and that this isn’t a lingering/nagging injury of some sort.

Otherwise, there was a lot to like about this game.  Jimenez dazzled and had fantastic control.  Brantley put on an offensive show, and the Indians got a big hit from Reynolds when they needed it the most.  There were even a few positives with Chris Perez, despite the blown save.  While that is obviously annoying, Perez pulled it together and got out of the inning without further damage.  It’s the kind of thing that you can forgive now that the game ended in a win, but it would frustrate you if they ended up losing.  The Indians had a bit of luck go their way as well, when Toronto made a costly error in the eighth inning.  In a game this close, you have to minimize your mistakes or pay the price.  Just one bad pitch can kill you.

Additional Notes:

- Since Scott Kazmir won’t be making his start on Saturday, the Indians will have to use someone in his place.  It can’t be Carrasco, since he will still be serving his suspension.  There was speculation that Corey Kluber would come up from Columbus, but now it sounds like it may be Trevor Bauer.  Bauer was due to start for the Clippers tonight, but Joe Martinez went instead.  It could mean that they plan to use him Saturday, or maybe just that they wanted to keep their options open for the time being.  I didn’t think we’d be answering that question from our preseason predictions so soon, but it looks like we will.

- The Indians claimed RHP Robert Whitenack off waivers from the Cubs today.  They moved Frank Herrmann to the 60-day DL in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster.  Whitenack had a fantastic start to the 2011 season with the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies (4-0, 2.39 ERA)  before he was derailed by Tommy John surgery in June of 2011.  He’s struggled some since his return, but if he can find his pre-surgery form this could be quite a grab.

- The new film “42″ on Jackie Robinson will be out in theaters on April 12.  In anticipation of the film, I will be participating on a live chat on Canada.com this Friday at 1 p.m. ET.  (It will take place at that link.)  I’m part of the panel of experts that will discuss the life, career, and legacy of Robinson.  If you’re interested in the subject, or just want to learn more about it, I recommend checking it out.

The Indians go for the sweep tomorrow as Brett Myers takes on Mark Buehrle. (And I’d be lying if I said Brett Myers didn’t make me nervous.)  The Indians haven’ t started a season 3-0 since 1998.

8 Comments

  • Drew says:

    “Jimenez dazzled and had fantastic control”. Previously said by no Tribe fan ever.

    All jokes aside, if Trevor Bauer is getting the call-up, it means that Scott Kazmir’s injury is minor. I do expect them to send whoever they call-up back down immediately after the game, and would have to be a guy with a number of options who the Indians do not believe they will sending back down again. I would think that Dice-K’s contract would make this type of move very difficult and I am unsure how many options Corey Kluber has remaining.

    While you may have called Chris Perez’ pitch that blew the save, a bad pitch, I may have to disagree. It was an off-speed pitch, down and in to one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Jose Bautista will likely him 45 more of those shots this season. However, Rich Hill, Brian Shaw, and especially Joe Smith looked excellent last night, and I would believe that Pure Rage will have a short leash if he keeps that kind of behavior up.

  • thirdsaint says:

    Yeah, yesterday was a fantastic game despite all the runners stranded. Brantley is awesome and who would’ve thought years ago that he’d be the best player in that CC deal. Jimenez… man, if we can get this Jimenez for the rest of the season we’ll be a dangerous team. He had his control and pitched very effectively at key points in the game. Gotta love Santana hitting to start the season too.

    Perez’s blown save was definitely annoying and, like the announcers were saying, his ball was moving so much it was to his detriment against Bautista. It moved back in towards the plate where Jose was waiting. Other than that, our bullpen looks fantastic and that’s really the key to a winning season. No matter how good our offense or rotation has been in the past, our season has pretty much gone as our bullpen has. I don’t care for Perez at all though and wouldn’t mind seeing him traded.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t mind seeing Bauer this Saturday but I’m of the opinion that the Rays are the best team in the AL East and their offense will be better than people think. That would be a tough matchup for him.

    • Swift says:

      I’m not worried about Perez YET. We kind of had the same situation last year – because of an injury, he saw relatively little action in spring training, and if I remember correctly last year, he got off to a rather slow start (not just the blown save in the opener last year). I am cautiously hopeful that he’ll be back on track in a couple more weeks.

      • The Doctor says:

        Obviously it’s a new coaching regime, but seeing as the front office watched Perez meltdown a number of times early last season, this is one of the decisions that doesn’t make any sense to me. What was the harm in putting him on the DL and then letting him get loose in a AAA assignment first?

        I don’t think a whole lot of Perez even when 100% healthy, and you could make a case that there’s several relievers in the ‘pen that are better than him anyhow.

        It seems like there is really no upside here to having him on the roster to start the season, and a big downside in letting someone that may be quasi-injured/not entirely ready for the season just roll right into the closer spot.

  • DaveR says:

    I like everything the Indians are doing so far. Glad to see that 2 of the big boppers we brought in have already gone deep. Not much else to say this early in the season.

  • medfest says:

    Ubaldo had a nice outing,Morrow was pitching so well early on it was scary.
    Perez giving up a dinger to Joey Bats isn’t that big of a deal,Reynolds taking an eye high heater 460 feet into the second deck is!I still can’t believe it.

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