Short Nerd Chief

Tribe-Tigers Wrap: Good, Bad & Ugly

Posted by Fred on April 18, 2008

All hail the power of the team meeting. After watching his team get shellacked by the Tigers 13-2 on Wednesday night, Tribe skipper Eric Wedge called a team meeting, where one imagines there was much ranting and pounding of fists.  The team followed said bull session with a shellacking of their own, pounding the Tigers 11-1 last night.  The efficacy of the team meeting is overstated, of course – these are multimillionaires being paid big bucks to play a game, and probably don’t really respond to being scolded by the schoolmarm.  The real difference?  Detroit’s version of 2008’s C.C. Sabathia was on the hill last night – Justin Verlander is now 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA, having given up at least 4 ER in each start, including losses of 13-2 and 11-1.  Verlander has never enjoyed success against Cleveland – he’s now 3-6 with a 7.03 ERA.

The Good

  1. Fausto Carmona. Sabathia and Carmona both had horrid starts against Oakland.  While Sabathia stunk up the joint against the Tigers, Fausto bounced back with his best start since his 7-2 victory over Chicago on April 2. Coming into the game, Carmona had walked 17 in 16 1/3 innings, but last night he walked only one in 6 1/3.  Coming in, he’d thrown 56% of his pitches for strikes; against the Tigers it was 68%.  The only downside is that he had too many fly balls – his GB/FB ratio was 30-3 in his first two starts, but 4-3 in his last outing at 11-9 last night.  Fausto needs ground balls to win.
  2. The Outfield.  Grady Sizemore was only 1-5, but his one hit was a double, and he didn’t strike out.  Franklin Gutierrez had 3 hits in 7 AB.  David Dellucci had a solo homer in two AB on Wednesday, accounting for half the Tribe runs.  He now sports a .915 OPS over 14 games.  Even Jason Michaels pitched in, going 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and a key outfield assist.
  3. Jamey Carroll.  Supersub (who expected that?) Carroll had 2 hits in 5 AB (including a triple), scored 3 runs and knocked in 2 more.  He’s hitting .308 for the year with a .988 OPS, and has scored 7 runs in 6 games.
  4. Ryan Garko.  The Tribe first baseman had two more hits in 7 AB (including a home run last night), scoring 3 runs and driving in 3.  His .315 average is second only to Victor Martinez, and his .948 OPS is best among the regulars.  He also leads the team in hits, doubles, walks and total bases, and is second in RBI behind Pronk.  Plus, he’s only struck out 6 times in 54 AB.
  5. Craig Breslow and Masahide Kobayashi.  Breslow was about the only bright spot among Tribe pitchers on Wednesday, giving up a hit and a walk in 1 2/3 IP.  Kobayashi gave up a run and 3 hits over his two appearances, which is not fantastic, but at least he’s throwing strikes (21 strikes in 31 pitches).  For the year, Masa sports a 2.84 ERA, although his 1.58 WHIP does give some pause.

The Bad

  1. Travis Hafner.  Pronk had only 1 hit in his 8 AB, although he did make it count with a 2-run homer.  Hafner is hitting only .242 so far, although a third of his hits have been for extra bases and he leads the team in RBI with 12.
  2. The rest of the infield.  While Garko, Martinez and Carroll combined to go 6-for-18 with 6 RBI, the rest of the infield just stunk.  Jhonny Peralta, Andy Marte, Asdrubal Cabrera, Casey Blake and Kelly Shoppach combined to go 2-for-20 with 5 strikeouts and just one RBI.  Peralta is now hitting .237 for the year.  Cabrera is in a serious second-year slump, hitting just .173 with 11 strikeouts.
  3. Tom Mastny and Jensen Lewis.  Over their 1 2/3 innings of work, Jensen and Lewis gave up 2 ER on 2 hits (both by Mastny).  Neither could throw strikes, as they walked 5 of the 12 batters they faced.  Only 43% of their pitches were strikes (Jensen only managed 3 strikes in his 13 pitches).

The Ugly

  1. C.C. Sabathia.  The AL’s reigning Cy Young winner had his fourth bad start in four tries, giving up 9 earned runs for the second start in a row.  He gave up 8 hits and walked 5 in 4 innings, and was booed lustily when he walked off the mound.  His Game Scores (a stat created by Bill James in which 50 is essentially a neutral score) have been 2 and 6.  Compare this to last year, when he had 15 starts with Game Scores above 60 and 7 above 70.  C.C.’s biggest problem appears to be an inability to control his pitches after getting two strikes.  Compare 2008 to 2007 with a two-strike count:
2007 34 452 78 17 1 8 20 209 .173 .485
2008 4 47 15 3 0 2 6 14 .319 .911

Last year, C.C. struck out 48% of the hitters he got ahead of 0-2.  This year, it’s 15%.  He’s also having a hard time once he gets to a three-ball count.  Last year, 27% of such plate appearances resulted in a walk.  This year, it’s 61%.  One presumes Sabathia will turn this around and the results will improve, but 18 ER over his last two starts is truly ugly.  His 27 ER allowed lead the team by far – he’s given up more earned runs than the rest of the rotation combined.

Next up: three games in Minnesota.  Cliff Lee (2-0, 0.61 ERA) faces Francisco Liriano (0-1, 7.71) tonight.  Jake Westbrook (1-1, 2.38) matches up against Nick Blackburn (0-1, 3.57) tomorrow afternoon, with Paul Byrd (0-2, 6.08) and Scott Baker (2-0, 4.34) in Sunday’s finale.  Jake’s had hard luck at the Metrodome, going 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA in nine appearances.  Byrd has been the opposite, going 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA in his 9 starts.


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