Short Nerd Chief

Tribe-Royals Wrap II: Paging Jobu…

Posted by Fred on May 5, 2008

My favorite sequence in major League is this exchange between Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross) and Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen):

Pedro Cerrano: Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.
Eddie Harris: You know you might think about taking Jesus Christ as your savior instead of fooling around with all this stuff.
Roger Dorn: Shit, Harris.
Pedro Cerrano: Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball.
Eddie Harris: You trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?

Not sure about Jesus, but the Tribe couldn’t hit much of anything against the Royals this weekend, managing a paltry .136 average and 2 runs over the two-game rain-shortened series. Clearly the team needs an offering to the gods, or hats for their bats. The series continued a recent trend of offensive ineptitude, and continued a pattern of turning inexperienced pitchers into Cy Young.  Over the past three seasons, the Indians have faced relatively new starters (defined as starters making 30 or fewer appearances) 88 times, with fair success at best:

Year W-L ERA BA OPS
2008 1-4 2.25 .170 .522
2007 20-21 4.66 .252 .745
2006 15-17 5.22 .263 .802
Total 36-42 4.70 .251 .754

In 2008, their only win came against Ian Kennedy, who hasn’t been able to beat anybody (and even then, the Indians managed only 3 runs off Kennedy in a 4-3 victory).  This weekend, it was Luke Hochevar, who held the Tribe to 2 runs on 3 hits over 6 innings.

The Good

  1. Aaron Laffey.  Laffey was one of the few bright spots in the entire series, as he surrendered only an unearned run on 4 hits over 7 innings.  He received no support from the offense, however, and was on the hook for the loss in the 2-0 Royals victory.
  2. C.C. Sabathia.  The good news is that C.C. didn’t give up 9 runs. The bad news is that he did give up 10 hits, leading to 4 Kansas City runs.  Nevertheless, he pitched into the 7th inning and gave the team a fighting chance, which they could not capitalize on against Hochevar.
  3. The bullpen.  With the exception yet again of Rafael Betancourt, the bullpen performed admirably.  Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez and Masa Kobayashi combined to pitch 4⅓ innings of shutout relief, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 3.  Kobayashi has been pitching particularly well, and has now allowed only one earned run over his past 9 appearances, covering 10⅓ innings.
  4. Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko.  There was little good on the offensive side of things this weekend.  One bright spot was Sizemore, who had 2 hits in 7 AB, including a solo homer that accounted for half the team’s run production for the series.  Garko had 2 hits and a walk in 6 AB. Since breaking an 0-for-21 slump, Garko has 4 hits in his last 10 AB.

The Bad

  1. The offense.  Even including Sizemore and Garko, the offense was anemic over these two games.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Casey Blake, Franklin Gutierrez, Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner combined for an 0-for-30 skunking, with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.  Sizemore, Garko, David Dellucci and Victor Martinez each collected 2 hits, but even they had almost as many strikeouts (6) as hits (8).

The Ugly

  1. Rafael Betancourt.  The Tribe’s putative closer had another bad outing in a non-save situation. After Perez retired the first two Royals in the top of the ninth with KC clinging to a 1-0 lead, Betancourt surrendered a solo homer to Miguel Olivo before striking out John Buck. Over his last three appearances, Betancourt has an ERA of 27.00, giving up 5 ER on 6 hits over 1⅔ innings. That’s not a whole lot better than Joe Borowski, who had an ERA of 31.50 over 2 innings in his last 3 appearances before going on the DL.  Their lines are remarkably similar, as each had twice as many HR (2) as strikeouts (1).  Betancourt will turn things around, however, which is more than one could hope for with Borowski.

Next up: The Tribe had a chance to move into first in the AL Central this weekend, but now has dropped back to 4th, 2.5 games behind the division-leading Twins. The Indians now travel to the Bronx for three games against the Yankees beginning tomorrow night.  Fausto Carmona (3-1, 2.60 ERA) faces Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3.93) in the opener.  Pettitte’s had some success against Cleveland, but not at Yankee Stadium, where he is just 1-4 with a 5.48 ERA.  Wednesday features a pair of undefeated starters, with Cliff Lee (5-0, 0.96) matching up against Chien-Ming Wang (6-0, 3.00).  Wang outdueled Sabathia 1-0 in his last outing against Cleveland.  In Thursday’s finale, Paul Byrd (1-2, 3.74) hopes for some rare run support against Mike Mussina (4-3, 4.23).  Over his last 4 starts, Byrd has an ERA of 1.71, but is just 1-0 with 3 no decisions because his teammates scored only 4 runs during his time on the mound over those 3 starts.

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