For the second time in less than a week, Travis Buck spent just one day in AAA due to an injury. This time it was Shin-Soo Choo breaking his left thumb on a pitch thrown by Jonathan Sanchez. This couldn't have come at a much worse time as Choo had been hitting much better of late with a .370 batting average over his last eight games. This will decimate the batting order again, removing the number four or five hitter and making everyone else move up. Since Matt LaPorta is still on the DL with his injury it makes it even worse as the bottom of the lineup will now have at least two backup players in it every day. This will also cripple the outfield defense as there is no right fielder with the range or arm of Choo. Choo has saved at least 10 runs this year either by actually throwing them out on the bases or by scaring them into not scoring. There is no one else on the entire team that has that kind of arm strength. There is no estimate on his return time at this moment, but I would expect him to miss at least a month.
Player of the Game
Carlos Carrasco pitched a complete game and only allowed 1 earned run against the World Series champion Giants. He earned the loss anyway due to Carlos Santana's errors, but he still won the 'Player of the Game.' His 8 inning, 6 hit performance garnered him a 'POG' score of 4.57. Carrasco's score was slightly lower than it normally would have been due to his 0-3 effort at the plate. It is his 4th consecutive start that he has won 'Player of the Game'.
The Indians took advantage of Jonathan Sanchez's wildness early on, walking 6 times and pushing him out of the game in the 5th inning. All three runs scored against Sanchez got on base initially with either walks or were batters that were hit by pitches.
I'm so glad that we finally get watch Carlos Carrasco strike out and hit weak ground balls. Isn't it great the National League is doing its best to live in the past and keep the glory of pitcher hitting alive?
Tonight's loss can be almost solely placed on Carlos Santana's shoulders as he knocked in two runs early in the game, then committed two errors that allowed 3 unearned runs to score.
If you are wondering why Michael Brantley was given both days off around an already scheduled off day, don't look here for the answer, because I'm wondering the exact same thing.
Final Score: Indians 3 - Giants 4
The Giants previously played Indians in 2008, losing two of three at Progressive Field. Of course, the Giants surprised the baseball world (but not me) by winning the world series last season. How did they do it? Primarily by a much improved defense from 2009, allowing the pitching staff, primarily made up of pitch-to-contact players, to enjoy nice years. They did not win the division until the last game of the season.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.87 ERA) vs. LHP Jonathan Sanchez (4-5, 3.71) Tonight at 10:15
RHP Justin Masterson (5-5, 3.18) vs. RHP Matt Cain (6-4, 3.44) Tomorrow at 4:11 p.m.
RHP Fausto Carmona (4-9, 6.17) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21), Sunday at 8:09 p.m
RHP Brian Wilson surrendered a run for the first time in 16 games but collected his 21st save. He entered the ninth inning with a 2-0 cushion but walked Minnesota's Alexi Casilla and surrendered a run-scoring double to Michael Cuddyer. The game ended curiously when 3B Pablo Sandoval gloved a grounder and ran down Cuddyer, who tried unsuccessfully to return to second. Sandoval made a diving lunge at Cuddyer to apply the tag.
C Buster Posey was seen in the Giants' dugout during the Twins series, and Minnesota All-Star C Joe Mauer was hoping for more. According to ESPN.com, Mauer said: "I was kind of excited when I saw San Francisco on the schedule—it was a chance for me to see Buster up close," Mauer said. But Posey is done for the season following his home-plate collision that left him with a blown-out ankle and busted leg. "He had a great start to his career and will be a good player in this league for a long time. You hate to see plays like that happen," Mauer said.
OF Gary Brown, 22, will represent the Giants in the Futures Game, played two days before the All-Star Game in Phoenix. Brown, the Giants' first-round pick in the 2010 draft, is hitting .328 with a .398 on-base percentage and 32 steals for Class A San Jose.
OF Aaron Rowand was hit on his left hand by a pitch in consecutive days. The latest came Thursday, when he was plunked by Twins RHP Alex Burnett, but he said he felt fine afterward. After he was struck Wednesday by a pitch from Twins RHP Nick Blackburn, Rowand was sore enough that he went for X-rays, which proved negative. He had two of the Giants' eight hits Thursday.
LHP Madison Bumgarner will make his next start Sunday against the Indians, manager Bruce Bochy said. It's no surprise. Bochy intimated as much after Bumgarner's meltdown (one-third of an inning, eight runs) on Tuesday, but it had been speculated that LHP Barry Zito would come off the disabled list and start Sunday. Not so, Bochy said. Zito will be needed during a doubleheader at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
Giant Injury Watch:
RHP Sergio Romo (hyperextended left knee) left the June 22 game, and he didn't pitch June 23. He is day-to-day.
2B Freddy Sanchez (dislocated right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list June 11. He will try to rehab the injury without undergoing surgery.
1B Brandon Belt (hairline fracture in left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 1. He began throwing and hitting off a tee June 21, and he was getting close to hitting off soft tosses. He might be able to begin a rehab assignment in early July.
LHP Barry Zito (strained right foot) went on the 15-day disabled list April 17. He did some flat-ground throwing May 7-8, and he threw a bullpen session May 11. He threw to hitters May 24. He began a rehab assignment with Class A San Jose on June 6, and he started for Class AAA Fresno on June 16 and June 21. He will be activated to start one game of a doubleheader June 28.
INF Mike Fontenot (left groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 26. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Fresno on June 9 but had to leave the June 10 game because of tightness in his groin. He might resume his rehab assignment during the week of June 20-26.
OF Darren Ford (sprained left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Fresno on June 16.
INF/OF Mark DeRosa (strained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list May 19. It's the same wrist he has had surgically repaired. He was hitting off a tee in mid-June.
C Buster Posey (broken left leg, strained ligaments in left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list May 26. He underwent season-ending surgery May 29.
Giants Ace Tim Lincecum.
Phew, we will miss this freak in this series. Hail Mary, full of grace...
Travis Buck was demoted to AAA Columbus earlier this afternoon to make room for the return of Shelley Duncan. This move is most certainly being made to allow Carlos Santana to move back behind the plate and to keep Orlando Cabrera from having to play third. The only surprise here is that this didn't happen a few days ago when Matt LaPorta was sent to the disabled list with his injured "right lower leg." This will also add an extra pinch hitter since currently the Indians are only carrying three extra batters (Lou Marson, Adam Everett and Orlando Cabrera) and will be playing the next 10 games in National League parks. Shelley Duncan has been the Indians best pinch-hitter over the past two seasons and will most likely be used as the second option behind Travis Hafner during the road trip. The news is sad for Buck who recently broke an 0-23 spell with an RBI single and has played well in his last two games. So goes the life of a man with minor league options.
This year's utter dominance by the bullpen makes you think one thing. Where does this one rank against the best Indians relievers of all time? So far this year the "Bullpen Mafia" has an league leading ERA of 2.99, 8 points better than the second place Yankees. This is in spite of having multiple relievers with ERAs of over 5. Since all relief corps have these mop up pitchers and call ups, I will be only comparing the best of the best on each team, the closers and set up men, to find where the 2011 bullpen ranks among the best Indians pens ever.
There are a couple parameters I am using to see which pitchers are the best. First, I'm only comparing bullpens since 1943 as this is the first time the Indians used a relief pitcher as their top closer (Joe Heving). Before this time starting pitchers did the majority of the bullpen work with the rest of the bullpen being made of the 5th-8th best pitchers rather than highly talented specialized short inning pitchers. Also, I will not be using saves, which weren't really considered relevant until the late 1980's and holds, which weren't even recorded until the 1990's. Instead I will compare pitchers using rate stats, so I don't have to extrapolate what this years bullpen will do for the rest of the season. The main stats I'm using are ERA [(ER*9)/IP], WHIP [(BB+H)/IP], batting average against [H/(IP*3+H)] and strike outs per 9 innings [(K*9)/IP].
Pitchers have been split between closers and other relievers as the closer should be the best pitcher in the bullpen. For a frame of reference, the best relief ERA for a closer in a single season was Jose Mesa in 1995 with a 1.13. In that season he gave up 8 runs, which is the same amount that Chris Perez has given up in about half a season in 2011. The top batting average against for a reliever is held by Vinnie Pestano so far this season with a .138. The top relief WHIP is held by Rafael Betancourt with his .759 in 2007. This means that during the entire season of 2007, Betancourt allowed 3 base runners every 4 innings. The top K/9 relief pitcher was George Zuverink in 1951, when he struck out 40 in 25.1 innings for a K/9 of 14.3. To make things a little more simple, I've taken the top 6 bullpens by ranking all time in these stats and will compare them to find which is the best all time. These six are 1995, 2007, 2011, 1976, 2005 and 1954.
There is no surprise that the years that had the best bullpens were some of the greatest years in Indians history. Two of these six years (1954 and 1995) ended in World Series for the Tribe, while 2007 ended one game short of the World Series. The worst season listed was 1976 when the Indians went 81-78. Every other season saw the Indians win at least 93 games and includes the top two teams in terms of winning percentage in Indians history. This goes well to illustrate the importance of a good bullpen in the modern age of baseball.
Each bullpen seems to be based around one or two fantastic pitchers, with a few other above average pitchers filling out the rest. Every pitcher listed below has a WHIP of under 1.30, a batting average against below .240, an ERA below 2.81 with the exception of Joe Borowski, who was probably the worst pitcher on the 2007 team outside of Edward Mujica and Roberto Hernandez. Of these pitchers, there were two among the top ten all time in every rate stat measured. These two pitchers are Dave LaRoche in 1976 and Vinnie Pestano in 2011. Pestano is exceptionally impressive as he ranks 3rd in ERA (1.33), 1st in BAA (.138), and 2nd in WHIP (.852) and K/9 (12.3) of all Indians non closing relievers since 1943. His numbers are so outrageous that if he maintains this pace, he will have the greatest single season of any Indians relief pitcher ever. What is most interesting about the 2011 team, is that while most of the teams in Indians history had only 2 to 4 stand out pitchers, this bullpen has 5.
The 2007 team can be thrown out of the discussion for best bullpen ever, simply because of the inclusion of Joe Borowski. While Raffy left and Raffy right may have had the best season by 2 set up men ever, Borowski ruined their nights on more than one occasion, blowing 8 saves and taking 5 losses along with an ERA of over 5. The 1954 team can also be removed because they simply did not use their pitchers enough. The 1954 team had 77 complete games, making relief pitching almost unneccessary. Their relief pitchers that are listed pitched almost the same amount of games in an entire (be it short) season as the 2011 pitchers have in less than half a season.
Unquestionably, the best closer listed and in Indians history was Jose Mesa in 1995. While both Mesa and Eric Plunk have come under scrutiny for their downfalls in the playoffs, you can't deny their performances during the regular season in 1995. Two other stand out pitchers on these teams are Bob Howry, who set the Indians record for appearances in 2005 with 79 and Rafael Perez, who is one of only two pitchers to appear on two separate great bullpens. While his 2007 effort has already been removed from contention, his numbers in 2011 are even better to this point then they were in that year. Another impressive stat about the 2011 bullpen is they have the number 1, 2 and 3 relief pitchers all time in earned run average. On this stat alone, they could be considered the best ever, as long as they can maintain for the rest of the season.
In my opinion, the 1995 team had the best bullpen of those listed. They are the only team that had a closer who was by far the best pitcher in the pen and they still had plenty of strong pitchers to fill around him. Along with Julian Tavarez and Eric Plunk, the 1995 team also had Jim Poole and lefty specialist Paul Assemacher. The pen was so deep, that Assemacher was able to be used so rarely that he averaged only 2 outs per appearance over his career, the least amount of IP/G of all Indians pitchers ever. The only other true competitor for the title is the 2011 team, but since they have only played half a season, it is unfair to really compare ERA and WHIP type stats. If they can keep it up, and Chris Perez can get himself into a few more save opportunities, this may become known as the best back-end of a bullpen in Indians history.
(The results of this discussion can be found here.)
Site note: In an effort to reduce the amount of negativity produced by BurningRiverBaseball.com we will no longer be making any mention of Austin Kearns until he either gets his batting average above .250 or is removed from the roster. I believe we have said all there is to be said about this particular outfielder and will now await the Indians response to the situation.
Player of the Game
Travis Hafner won his second 'Player of the Game' in the last three games, this time with a 2 run home run. Pronk has been on base in each of his last 22 games played and has a hit in each game since coming off the DL. Tonight, 3 of the 4 Indians runs scored came with Hafner at the plate, the other run coming when starting pitcher Jason Hammel balked home Jack Hannahan. Hammel obviously balked out of pure fear of Hafner. His final 'POG' score for the game was 4.12 and he has now won 6 total in 2011.
Like any pitcher, Josh Tomlin has had his struggles this season, but he crammed them all into 4 consecutive starts. Tomlin started the season with 9 straight great games, then fell off for the next four. In the two games since then, Tomlin has regained his stride and has pitched well in his last two games. Yes, he does give up a lot of home runs, but that is only because he pitches to contact and lets his fielders do the work. Very rarely are there base runners on for those home runs and he has yet to allow a steal attempt this season. Overall, Tomlin, along with Justin Masterson, has been one of the Indians most consistently successful starters all year.
Vinnie Pestano has earned a hold in 4 of his last 5 appearances and did not give up a run in any of them. His 10 holds are second on the Indians to Tony Sipp (14) and tied for 10th in the American League. Tonight Pestano struck out 3 batters in one inning of work (spread across the 7th and 8th). Over his last 4 games he has struck out 8 batters in 4.2 innings.
There was no rain tonight so we didn't get to hear Matt Underwood, Rick Manning and Mike Hargrove do their weatherman routine.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 4 - Colorado Rockies 3
Player of the Game
Asdrubal Cabrera continues to lead the Indians in every way possible and that includes 'Player of the Game' awards. Tonight he took home his 10th, three more than 2nd place Matt LaPorta. Asdrubal scored 2.74 by walking 3 times, scoring 2 runs, hitting a single and stealing a base. His last walk and steal came in the 9th inning with two outs, puting the Indians in a place where they could win the game with a single. Cord Phelps and Rafael each had notable games and tied with a score of 2.12. Phelps hit a single and a triple while Perez pitched an inning and two-thirds of shutout relief.
For anyone new to Burning River Baseball, here is an explanation of my 'Player of the Game' scoring system.
Shin-Soo Choo continues to increase his level of play and has now been on base in 7 straight games. Over that span of time he has increased his split stats from .231/.311/.340 to .244/.341/.353. He has also increased his production stats, scoring or knocking in a run in his last 4 games.
The Indians were able to knock Jhoulys Chacin out of the game in the 7th inning, even though he was pitching a 2 hitter, by being patient at the plate, working the count and taking a lot of walks. This drove his pitch count over 100, so that when he did give up his second hit, Rockies manager Jim Tracy felt he had to take him out of the game.
Cord Phelps provided some excitement again with a two out triple in the 9th inning down only one run, but the worst player on the Indians was unable to do anything about it as he struck out on a check swing to end the game.
Yesterday Carmona had trouble pitching with two outs, allowing 6 runs in the 5th after the first two batters were out with no one on, and tonight, Mitch Talbot also struggled with two outs and none on, giving up all 3 of his earned runs in that situation. Overall, Talbot was very mediocre as, while he only gave up 3 runs, he allowed 8 hits, three of them being extra base hits. He also walked 2 batters in 6.1 innings.
With the way Jason Giambi has been hitting this series, you would think he was back on steroids. He has destroyed Indians pitching more than any other Rockie so far. This is only the second time this season he has gotten more than one at bat in two consecutive games and he has delivered with a three run home run in game one and two doubles in game two.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Colorado Rockies 4
Player of the Game
Travis Hafner takes home tonight's 'Player of the Game' on the strength of his first inning 3 run home run. Hafner also walked later in the game, but the bulk of his 5.40 'POG' score came from the home run. Carlos Santana came in a close second with a score of 5.06, but was denied yet again even though he played well. Santana has now had a score of 4.70 or higher in 3 of the last 4 games, but has not won a 'Player of the Game' since April. After another bad outing, Fausto Carmona's season 'POG' score is now -18.8. He is currently one of three Indians with negative scores along with Mitch Talbot (-1.4) and Chad Durbin (-1.4)
The Indians did a great job scoring repsonse runs tonight, plating 3 after the Rockies scored in the first and 2 more after the Rockies scored 6 in the 5th. These runs really kept the Indians in a game that could have become a blowout. They also scored one run in the 8th inning after the Rockies got an unearned run off of an errant throw by Lou Marson.
The Rockies are a really talented offensive team and the Indians are lucky that they only have to face them once every couple years and that this year the games are taking place in Cleveland instead of Colorado.
After Chad Durbin had two of his worst outings of the season in consecutive appearances (6/10 and 6/12), the Indians gave him a week off either out of fear of putting him in a game or to give him a chance to get himself back together. Whatever the reason, it apparently worked and Durbin has now made two successful outings in consecutive days. Tonight's appearance was especially strong as he went 2 innings, allowing only one hit, stranding a runner that Carmona left on and striking out 3.
Fausto Carmona dug his own grave tonight. After pitching 4.2 very good innings, Carmona walked two and gave up 5 hits, all with two outs and nobody on in the 5th. This was capped when Jason Giambi hit a giant 3 run home run. Carmona hasn't had a decent start in his last 5 games and hasn't had a really good start in his last 8. You have to wonder just how long the Indians will allow Fausto to keep pitching at this level.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 7 - Colorado Rockies 8
The Rockies open a three-game series with the Tribe tonight here in Cleveland. They are 8-7 all-time against the Indians but 1-5 at Progressive Field. This will be the sixth year the clubs have played, the first since 2008. The teams last played in Cleveland in 2005. Thier record in the month of June is 10-7
(Sorry If you cannot pronounce the names of some of the Rockies starters.)
RHP Fausto Carmona (4-8, 5.79 ERA) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (2-1, 3.38), Tonight at 7:05
RHP Mitch Talbot (2-4, 5.02) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (8-4, 2.81), Tomorrow at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Josh Tomlin (8-4, 3.93) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (3-6, 3.65), Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.
The Rockies finished their longest homestand of the season with a 6-4 record against the Dodgers, Padres and Tigers. SS Troy Tulowitzki went 14-for-38 (.368) on the homestand with four doubles, two homers, 10 RBI and seven runs, raising his average 15 points to .276, the highest it has been since he was hitting .284 on May 3.
CF Carlos Gonzalez, although his season-long 11-game hitting streak ended, enjoyed a good homestand. He raised his average from .249 to .275 during the homestand by going 18-for-44 (.409) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBI and seven runs.
Rookie LHP Rex Brothers gave up three runs, two earned, in the seventh inning. Covering home on a passed ball by C Matt Pagnozzi, who made his Rockies debut, Brothers was spiked by Tigers RF Brennan Boesch and suffered a cut on his right (non-throwing) forearm that required four stitches to close. According to the Denver Post, manager Jim Tracy said Brothers would be available "in a day or so."
The Rockies had their second and third sellouts of the season Saturday and Sunday against the Tigers. They drew 48,555 on Saturday and 49,015 on Sunday. The latter attendance is the sixth highest in Coors Field history. The Rockies' other sellout this year was on Opening Day on April 1 when they drew 49,374.
The Rockies fell back to 35-36 with their loss Sunday to the Tigers. Beating Detroit in the first two games of the season to extend their winning streak to four games, the Rockies reached .500 (35-35) for the first time since they were 24-24 on May 25. In the interim, the Rockies fell four games below .500 five times.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez's two-run single in the second inning Saturday against the Tigers gave him his first career multi-RBI game and broke an 0-for-32 stretch since his last hit, Sept. 1 at San Francisco.
LHP Rex Brothers (cut on right forearm) left the June 19 game. He might be unavailable for a few days.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (right calf cramp) left his June 18 start. He doesn't expect to miss a start. He is not scheduled to pitch in this series.
C Jose Morales (fractured right thumb) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to June 16.
CF Dexter Fowler (left abdominal strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 5. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Colorado Springs on June 14.
RHP Matt Daley (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 1.
RHP Esmil Rogers (strained right lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2. He made rehab starts for Class AAA Colorado Springs on June 9 and June 14, but then he was shut down until late June due to a strained left ribcage muscle.
LHP Jorge De La Rosa (torn ulnar collateral ligament in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list May 25. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery June 3.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
RHP Jhoulys Chacin
RHP Jason Hammel
RHP Juan Nicasio
RHP Aaron Cook
RHP Huston Street (closer)
RHP Rafael Betancourt
RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Matt Lindstrom
LHP Matt Reynolds
LHP Rex Brothers
RHP Clayton Mortensen
1B Todd Helton
2B Jonathan Herrera
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Ty Wigginton
INF Jason Giambi
INF Chris Nelson
Rockies set-up man Rafael Bentancourt.
He played a vital role in the Indians bullpen in their division run of 2007.
(Photo Courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.)
Player of the Game
Cord Phelps grabbed another group of firsts today with his first double, home run, run scored, walk off hit and 'Player of the Game'. Phelps ended the game with a three run homerun to right field in the 11th inning off Pirates pitcher Tim Wood. Although he did have an error, Cord went 2-5 during the game with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI. His final 'POG' score was 6.68.
Travis Hafner has avoided a post DL slump by getting on base in 4 of his first 8 at bats. Pronk is a huge part of the Indians offense, so it was pivotal that he be able to come in playing strong. By stepping into the clean-up spot in the lineup, he moves everyone else down one place, making them all slightly better hitters for their spot in the order.
The Indians have dominated in their first two series of Interleague play so far going 6 and 0 against the Reds and Pirates. They will look to continue this play against the Rockies at home in the next series.
Justin Masterson was unable to get a win, yet again, despite only giving up 2 runs. Masterson hasn't gotten a win since May, when he went 5-0 for the month, even though he only allowed more than 2 earned runs 3 times. The big problem is that the Tribe offense has only scored more than 2 runs in 3 of those starts.
The Indians were third in the league in offensive strikeouts going into the game and did nothing to change that today. Grady Sizemore struck out 4 times on his own and the team added 3 more. Manager Manny Acta stated before the game that one of the reasons Jon Nunnally was fired and Bruce Fields brought in was because the team strikes out too much.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 - Pittsburgh Pirates 2