Short Nerd Chief

Tribe-Sox Wrap: Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted by Fred on April 16, 2008

The Tribe wrapped up two mostly ugly games against Boston last night, in which they lost two games and a closer.  They should have won both games.  Losing the closer was inevitable.  The series was a microcosm of the season to date in many ways.  Two stats tell the tale of 2008: the relievers can’t keep the ball in the ballpark (9 HR in 41 IP, the same number given up by the starters in twice as many innings) and the bottom of the order can’t hit (Michaels, Cabrera, Gutierrez and Blake have a combined average of .155 with 37 strikeouts).  This held true for this two-game series – the relievers gave up three home runs, including the two ninth inning blasts that won the games for the Sox, and the Quartet of Ineptitude was 2-for-22 with 7 Ks.

The Good

  1. The starters.  Jake Westbrook pitched into the seventh inning Monday night, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits, striking out 5 and walking 3.  He left with a 4-2 lead, only to see Joe Borowski blow what was (hopefully) his second and last save for the Tribe.  Paul Byrd had his first effective start of 2008, pitching 6 innings while giving up no runs on 6 hits, with 6 strikeouts and no walks.  He left with a 2-1 lead, only to see a wild bullpen (4 walks and a HBP in 3 IP) lose the lead on yet another last inning HR (Jason Veritek off Jensen Lewis in the ninth).
  2. The middle of the order.  Travis Hafner had 2 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI in 8 AB.  Victor Martinez broke out of his slump with 6 hits and 3 RBI in 9 AB.  Ryan Garko had 2 hits, a HBP and 2 RBI in 7 AB.  Together they drove in all 7 of the team’s runs and had 10 of the 15 hits.  Garko (at .319) and Martinez (at .375) are the only Indians hitting over .300 for the year.

The Bad

  1. The relievers.  Together, Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez, Jorge Julio and Jensen Lewis gave up 8 hits, 2 HR and 5 ER in 5 innings of work.  Add in Borowski (more on him later) and the bullpen had a 12.68 ERA for the series (the starters combined for a 0.73 ERA over the two games).
  2. The bottom of the order.  Asdrubal Cabrera was hitless in 6 AB with 3 strikeouts.  Jason Michaels was hitless in 4 AB with one K, including a fly ball on his first pitch with two on in the fourth on Monday night.  Franklin Gutierrez had 1 hit in 7 AB, finishing off the 4th on Monday with a popup and grounding out with two on in the fourth last night.  Casey Blake had one hit in 5 AB.

The Ugly

  1. Joe Borowski.  JoBo entered the game Monday with a chance to save the win for Westbrook.  The 4-2 lead had become 4-3 thanks to an eighth inning homer off Betancourt.  Borowski proceeded to give up a double, bloop single and game-losing HR in two-thirds of an inning, recording his only outs on a sacrifice bunt (that Coco Crisp appeared to beat out) and sacrifice fly.  He immediately went on the DL with an alleged triceps injury.
  2. Eric Wedge.  I’ve generally been supportive of the skipper even when others have not been, but his “loyalty” burned the Tribe this time.  Sometimes it pays off, as when Byrd beat the Yankees in last year’s ALDS despite pleas to start Sabathia on short rest.  Sometimes it doesn’t – Wedge continued to run Borowski out to the mound in the ninth even though he clearly was helpless out there (his ERA for the season stands at 18.00).  Even his two saves weren’t great, as he gave up two walks and a HR in his 2 IP.  His blown saves have been disasters, with 7 ER and 2 more home runs in a total of an inning of work.  Wedge also continues to play Jason Michaels against left-handers, despite his .097 average and .276 OPS.  Dellucci isn’t great, but his OPS is second on the team.  Hell, stick Jamey Carroll out there – he played a half-dozen games in the outfield for Colorado, and is 2-for-8 with 4 runs in 4 games as a backup infielder this year.

Next up: a two-game series against Detroit that looked good on the schedule but now pits the bottom of the AL Central head to head.  C.C. Sabathia (0-2, 11.57) takes the hill tonight, still looking for his first quality start of 2008.  He’ll face Armando Galarraga, who is making his first start for the Tigers (he posted a 6.23 ERA in three appearances, including one start, last September for the Rangers).  Fausto Carmona (1-1, 2.20) goes against Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.52) on Thursday night.  Cleveland roughed up Verlander last year – he was 1-4 with a 8.13 ERA.  For his career, he’s 3-5 with a 5.85 ERA in 9 starts.  In two starts at the Jake last year, he was 0-2, giving up 14 runs on 14 hits and 6 HR in 10 innings.

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