Short Nerd Chief

Tribe-Reds Wrap: Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted by Fred on May 19, 2008

The Indians have to be happy that the first interleague series is over and they can flee Cincinnati for the friendlier confines of the American League, following a truly ugly series at the Great American Ballpark.  The Tribe once again couldn’t score any runs, managing just 9 over the 3 games.  This series also saw the first bad start from Cliff Lee, the first blown save from Masa Kobayashi and a pitiful appearance by Jensen Lewis.  On the upside, there was the first hit from Michael Aubrey, a solo homer yesterday.  Overall, the hitting wasn’t that bad (.245 BA and .780 OPS), but with runners in scoring position, the Tribe managed just 3 hits in 27 tries, all coming yesterday. On Friday and Saturday, the boys were hitless in 16 AB with RISP.

The Good

  1. Fausto Carmona.  Carmona’s problem all year has been control, but his start on Saturday was by far his best of the year.  In 7⅓ innings, he didn’t walk anybody and gave up only 1 earned run on 4 hits.  For the first time, he showed signs of the form that led to 18 wins last year.  Unfortunately the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, as Masa Kobayashi gave up a walk-off three-run HR to Adam Dunn.
  2. Jorge Julio and Rafael Perez.  Other than Carmona, pitching stars were in short supply.  Julio and Perez, however, combined to throw 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks (all by Perez) while striking out 5.  Perez appeared in all three games, notable mostly because Rafael Betancourt appeared in none.
  3. Grady Sizemore.  In this series, Grady looked more like a leadoff hitter than the #3 hitter he sometimes seems to be.  In 15 plate appearances, Sizemore was on base 6 times on 3 hits and 3 walks.  He also only struck out twice.  The offense couldn’t pick him up, however, leaving Sizemore stranded on base 5 of those 6 times.
  4. Ben Francisco.  More and more it appears Francisco’s subpar AAA numbers this year were an aberration and his hot spring more indicative of his ability.  Against the Reds, Francisco hit .455 with two doubles and a home run.  Add in one HBP and he had a team-high 1.409 OPS for the series.  In 12 games since his most recent arrival from Buffalo, Francisco is hitting .378 with a 1.010 OPS.  He’s also riding a five-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .500 with a 1.359 OPS.
  5. Travis Hafner.  Yeah, it’s only two pinch-hit ABs due to loss of the DH in the NL park, but Hafner was on base both times with a walk and a home run.  Pronk continues to show signs of heating up (finally) at the plate. Over his last 10 games, Hafner is hitting .318 with a 1.028 OPS.  The big DH also has more walks (6) than strikeouts (4) during this period.  In the 30 games before that, he managed only 14 walks to 34 strikeouts.

The Bad

  1. Cliff Lee.  For the first time, Lee looked mortal, giving up 5 earned runs on 10 hits in 5⅔ innings.  The Reds hit .385 against Lee, who also gave up 2 home runs in watching his ERA swell to 1.37.
  2. Jensen Lewis.  Pitching for the first time in front of his hometown fans, the Cincinnati native clearly appeared to be affected by nerves, particularly in relief of Jeremy Sowers on Friday night, when he walked in the eventual winning run. Overall in that inning he gave up a bloop double and three walks.
  3. Asdrubal Cabrera.  Cabrera remains mired in a massive slump, as he is hitless in his last 13 at bats, and is hitting just .113 over his last 16 games.  Against Cincinnati, Cabrera was hitless in 10 ABs.
  4. David Dellucci and Victor Martinez.  Dellucci and Martinez combined to go 3-for-22 (.136) for the series.  Victor’s power outage continues this year – after hitting 25 HR last year and at least 16 each year for the past four years, Martinez is still looking for his first HR in 2008.

The Ugly

  1. Masa Kobayashi.  With the failures of Joe Borowski (18.00 ERA) and Rafael Betancourt (7.36 ERA) as closer, Kobayashi looked like the leading candidate for the back end of the bullpen with two straight converted save opportunities.  On Saturday in relief of Fausto Carmona he looked terrible, however, allowing a 3-run homer to Adam Dunn to lose the game.  At this point, he still looks like the best candidate for the job, unless the 3 ER, 2 hit, ⅓ IP is a sign of things to come.

Up next: Having watched the White Sox turn a 1½ game deficit into a 1½ game lead over a weekend, the Tribe travels to Chicago after an off-day today.  C.C. Sabathia (3-5, 5.47 ERA) faces Jose Contreras (4-3, 3.35) on Tuesday.  Sabathia appears to have put his horrible start behind him, as he is 3-2 with a 1.49 ERA over his last 5 starts, including a complete game shutout in his last oating against Oakland.  Paul Byrd (2-3, 3.61) matches up against Javier Vazquez (4-3, 3.53) on Wednesday.  Byrd’s problem has been the long ball, but he kept the ball in the yard in his last start, holding the A’s scoreless.  Aaron Laffey (2-2, 1.35) makes what may be his last start for a while on Thursday against mark Buehrle (2-5, 5.27), as Jake Westbrook is due to come off the DL soon.  Laffey has been fantastic, so Eric Wedge could take his time and let Westbrook have an extra rehab start or two.  Buerhle has had real trouble against Cleveland, with a lifetime record of 8-11 and a 4.93 ERA.  On Opening Day, Buerhle lasted just 1⅔ innings and giving up 7 runs on 7 hits.


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