Kickin’ Astros

April 21, 2013

On Harry Nilsson’s 1972 album “Son Of Schmilsson,” there’s a song called “Joy.” It’s a sendup of maudlin country ballads (the chorus goes “Joy to the world was a beautiful girl, but to me Joy meant only sorrow”), with lyrics that mock the very notion that love and joy are even remotely attainable. Near the end of the song, Nilsson sings

Things went good
They went bad
Things went good
They went bad
Good, bad
Good, bad

Then to show his disgust with the entire tawdry affair, Nilsson spits out the next few words, if you can even call them words:

Goo, baa, goo, baa

I thought about that song as I watched Ubaldo Jimenez pitch today, although things didn’t go good at first. They went bad. Jimenez walked the first batter he faced on five pitches. His sixth pitch was the first pitch that Astros left fielder Fernando Martinez saw in 2013, and Martinez liked what he saw, as he hit that pitch for a home run to left field, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead. Jason Castro, the next batter, singled. Brandon Laird then hit a fly to deep right center. It looked to be a sure double, perhaps a triple, but Drew Stubbs made a great over-the-shoulder catch at the wall to retire Laird, and Castro failed to make it back to first in time: double play.

Jimenez retired the next hitter, and the next twelve hitters after that one. Yes, after that shaky start, Jimenez bore down, and things went good. He didn’t allow another baserunner until the sixth inning, by which time the Indians had taken a 4-2 lead. Then things went bad, as Jimenez gave up a leadoff single, followed by a run-scoring triple. Indians manager Terry Francona replaced Jimenez with Nick Hagadone, who retired the next hitter on a sacrifice fly, tying the game.

Jimenez’ line for the day: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. Most pitchers wouldn’t be happy with an outing like that one, but it was decidedly better than the last two starts Jimenez made. Still, he’s allowed 18 runs, all of them earned, over his last 11 innings of work. It would be a mistake to think that Jimenez is out of the woods just because he held the light-hitting Astros lineup to “only” four runs in five innings.

It’s a good thing that the Indians offense showed up again today. While they didn’t swing the bats quite as well as they did on Saturday night, they did score five runs, which was enough to win. Four of the runs came on solo homers by Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Reynolds. The bullpen also did its job, turning in four innings of scoreless work. Francona finally got to use the back end of the bullpen the way it’s structured to be used: Joe Smith in the seventh, Vinnie Pestano in the eighth, and Chris Perez for the save in the ninth.

But even that didn’t come easy, as each of those relievers allowed their leadoff hitters to reach base. Working with a 5-4 lead, Perez in particular made things downright uncomfortable, giving up a leadoff double, then hitting the next batter with a pitch. A sacrifice bunt put the tying and winning runs on third and second base, but Perez bore down and struck out the next hitter before getting the final out on a ground ball to third.

It wasn’t pretty, and it was only against the Houston Astros, but the Indians did win the game, and the series as well. So even though Nilsson may not have found any, there was some joy to be had for Indians fans today.

The Indians have had two or more homers in six of their 17 games, and three or more in four of them. They are 4-0 when they hit at least three home runs in a game. Reynolds leads the team with seven home runs, which is tied for the American League lead. Santana and Reynolds are second and third in the league in OPS. If they can continue to hit like that, this could be an interesting season indeed.


  • Wyatt says:

    At least they took a series against a team they should be able to beat, which is a good sign. Now it’s back to the White Sox, where they’ve had good luck so far. If they can take another series- against a division rival- they’ll be back in the thick of things.

  • medfest says:

    To be fair to Ubaldo,Raburn badly botched that fly ball that turned into a triple.Stubbs or Swisher makes that catch easily if they’re in RF, and it’s one out with a runner on first.

    I thought the back end of the bullpen was more than a little shaky,if they were playing anyone besides the Astros they would have blown the save.

  • Steve Alex says:

    Balls hit that hard are difficult to catch. Choo would not have caught that triple either. It was crushed. Francona pulled UJ after only 65 pitches with a lead in the 6th inning. He has no confidence in his pitcher, and for good reason. We’re calling 4 R in 5 IP a good outing. That’s a 7.20 ERA. He looked great for four innings, but as soon as you get him in the stretch it’s all over. Unfortunately, those four good innings probably bought him another month of chances that we will have to endure.

  • GG Allin says:

    Rumor has it we are in discussions with Al Nipper to replace Ubaldo.

  • The Doctor says:

    Classic Chris Perez outing.

    Why is it that every “closer” we’ve had over the last 10-12 years seems to require putting 2 men on before he decides it’s time to start getting outs?