Friday, June 18, 2010

Next Up - A Baker's Dozen

Put together two teams that are swinging whiffle ball bats and match them up against the best pitcher either can offer, and you have an idea of what tonight's game was all about.

The Tribe threatened first, and it took them until the seventh to do it against Paul Maholm. Jhonny Peralta took a changeup into right for a double, and an out later moved to third on a ground ball single by Anderson Hernandez.

Jason McDonald brought home the run with another groundball single past a lunging Garrett Jones, who was drawn up to cut off the run. Maholm threw the pitch he needed, but as it's been going lately, couldn't get the ball to cooperate.

After striking out the pitcher, Trevor Crowe lined a two-out single into left, and it was 2-0. Shin-Soo Choo four-hopped yet another ground ball single into right on the first pitch, and the game was getting out of hand. JR gave Maholm the hook after 6-1/3 innings, responsible for four runs on seven hits, two walks and five K's.

Joel Hanrahan came on and gave up a double to Carlos Santana (no doubt called up from Woodstock) to allow another run, though a Ryan Church-Neil Walker-Ryan Doumit mash up nailed the back runner. Still, it was 4-0 with nine outs to go and just two singles to show for the opening six frames; heck, no one even made it to second.

The Bucs started off the seventh like they meant business against Fausto Carmona when Walker legged out an infield single to the shortstop hole and Andrew McCutchen walked. Garrett Jones rolled a single into right, and the bases were juiced with nobody away.

Then the long overdue Church took a changeup for a called strike, and got a second one in the same spot. Fool me once, shame on you... He ripped that one to the Notch to clear the bases, and sat at second with no outs representing the tying run.

Lefty Rafael Perez came on to face Pedro, in yet another clutch spot. He lofted one deep enough into right to move Church to third and bring up Dewey, now turned around to his weaker right side. Dewy didn't; he popped out to short, seeing nothing but changeups at the knees.

Righty Frank Herrmann was called on to challenge Ronny Cedeno, who flew out to medium center to end the rally after being fed five straight fast balls, all but one pretty much down the middle. Runner on second, no one out...

Brendan Donnelly took the ball in the eighth, and pitched a clean frame. Chris Perez climbed the hill for the Indians. He got Delwyn Young on a borderline called strike three. Jose Tabata took a two-strike heater into left center for a one-out double and some life, but Walker flew out to right and McCutch popped out.

Octavio Dotel worked the ninth, and provided his usual drama, but got out of the inning stranding guys at second and third. Kerry Wood came on to close for the Tribe.

The Bucs last shot featured three lefties batting against the righty Wood, who had an 8.03 ERA and in 12-1/3 innings had given up 16 hits and seven walks. So much for match-ups; they went down 1-2-3, and he got his fifth save in the 4-3 win.

No problem dissecting tonight's game; the Indians scored three times with two outs, while the Pirates refused to bring guys at second around. And the 7-8 hitters for Cleveland had four hits, which is four more than the 6-7-8 batters for Pittsburgh collected.

So it's a dozen in row, in front of the 1960 World Champions gathered on the field and the 28,000+ in the stands. Will thirteen prove lucky tomorrow?

Jeff Karstens and David Huff get it on Saturday night.

-- They still have Dewey taking balls at first. If Garrett Jones is going to get the lion's share of work there, why don't they get Doumit back in the outfield where he has a fighting chance?

They keep trying to force square pegs into round holes, and it's apparent that the brass would rather have Ryan Church in the outfield than Steve Pearce back at first; otherwise the move makes no sense.

-- Andy LaRoche is taking grounders at second. By all reports, he's making the transition fairly well and working on the pivot now.

-- The Pirates signed fifth round pick Tyler Waldron from Oregon State, a RHP with a fastball-slider combo, and twelfth rounder Vincent Payne, a 19 year-old RHP from Cypress College who was a wild child this year with a lotta K's, a lotta walks, and a sky-high 7.03 ERA. Both project to be relievers down the road.

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