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Player of the Game
Jeanmar Gomez did not win today's 'Player of the Game' with a score of -4.51. It is not his first of the season after allowing 5 runs in 5.1 innings and taking a loss. In fact, Carlos Santana won the 'Player of the Game' with his mammoth solo home run in the first inning along with a single later on in the game. It is his 4th award of the season and he scored 3.48 points for the game. Santana is now third on the team in total points for the season behind only Asdrubal Cabrera (149.5) and Michael Brantley (115.6) with 107.3.
Travis Hafner hit a home run in the first inning, but was then overshadowed as the next hitter, Carlos Santana hit an even bigger home run, knocking it straight out of the stadium to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Early in the season I said that all the Indians would have to do to make the playoffs would be to win 50% of their games for the rest of the season. Since June 12th they have done the absolute minimum amount of winning necessary to stay in first place and they remain the 5 games over .500 that they were on that day. Since then, the Indians have never won or lost more than 3 consecutive games.
The Tribe had a bunch of two out run scoring opportunities, but were only able to take advantage once, when Travis Buck hit a 2 out double in the first inning. Overall the team left 11 runners on base.
As go Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera, so go the Indians. Today, their combined 0-10 leaves little surprise to why the Indians were only able to score 3 runs. The lineup after those two (outside of Lonnie Chisenhall) all played well, but for some reason were unable to knock in each other. Also, with no runners on base, Oriole pitching was able to work around Travis Hafner, not giving him a good pitch to hit after his home run in the first inning.
It took a squeeze bunt to ruin Joe Smith's scoreless streak as the Orioles ended his 27 straight games without allowing an earned run. Smith gave up a double, a ground out and a bunt to give up the run.
Grady Sizemore hurt his leg turning around first base on a double in the first inning. Grady was noticeably limping before he slid into second and was immediately removed with what was called a knee contusion. Of course it seems very improbable that he bruised his knee while running, but since the Indians never tell the whole truth about injuries, this is all we have to go on for now. Hopefully he will not need to go on the disabled list for the third time this season as the Indians are having major problems with outfield depth at the moment.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Baltimore Orioles 8
As expected the Indians brought up Jeanmar Gomez for today's start and dropped one of their 6 bench players. The interesting part is who they decided to drop (it was Shelley Duncan). Moves like this are what prompt me to say that the Indians do not have winning as their number one goal. Shelley Duncan is unquestionably better than Austin Kearns in every facet of the game. He is better defensively as both have no speed or range, but at least Duncan has a better arm. He's also available at first base if absolutely necessary. Offensively, there is no comparison. Duncan his batting more than 20 points higher and is slugging 100 points more (Kearns .300, Duncan .400). In 6 less games and 20 less at bats he has 15 more RBI and 2 more home runs. He has also only struck out 28 times while Austin has struck out 40. There is no issue of roster versatility as Travis Buck is an almost identical player to Kearns (although slightly better, Buck has an OPS of .642 while Kearns is at .604). The only reason the Indians made this move is so they don't have to pay Austin Kearns not to play, which they will have to do if they release him, while Shelley Duncan, Travis Buck and others still have minor league options left. You don't win championships making moves to save money, you win championships making moves to win baseball games. The prolonged stay in AAA of Lonnie Chisenhall was also based on financial motives as the point was to keep him around for one more season before he is arbitration eligible. As soon as upper management and team ownership figures out that increased attendance follows closely with increased winning percentage, maybe they will stop making stupid baseball moves and start trying to win.
Player of the Game
Today’s player of the game was Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera stole the award from Brantley with his bases clearing double in the 9th inning, giving him a “POG” score of 4.06. This was Cabrera’s sixth “POG” this year, tying him for 5th among active players on the team.
After a couple of horrible starts, Carlos Carrasco pitched well today in his 7 inning performance. Carrasco gave up only 3 runs on 5 hits and struck out 6 Birds.
Ezequiel Carrera showed off his arm today on a relay throw that nailed Derrek Lee at the plate. Carrera hit the cut-off man, Orlando Cabrera, setting up an accurate throw to Lou Marson to prevent another Oriole runner from scoring in the 4th.
The Indians showed great plate discipline in the 9th inning, drawing three straight walks with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. This set up for a bases-clearing double by Orlando Cabrera, bringing the Indians within one run.
The 6-man bench was put to use for the third game in a row. Grady Sizemore and Matt Laporta were used to pinch hit late in the game after they had both been given the day off.
The Bullpen Mafia was not too intimidating tonight. Rafael Perez had a rough outing, retiring only one batter and surrendered 1 run on two doubles. His relief, Frank Hermann, walked two batters and gave up a double. In total, the two gave up 3 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks.
The Indians batters were only able to get one hit through the first five innings of the game. Mchael Brantey reached on the first Indians hit of the day in the 4th inning, but was immediately erased on an Asdrubal Cabrera double play ball.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 - Baltimore Orioles 6no comments
Player of the Game
Grady Sizemore won tonight's player of the game after accounting for 3 of the 6 Indians runs in what ended up being a one run game. Grady hit a double and home run, scoring twice and knocking two in. For those who think the math is wrong a 2 run home run counts for 2 RBI and a run, but only 2 runs for the team. Grady scored 5.66 'POG' points giving him more than one point in each of the Indians last four games. It is Grady's 5th of the season. Asdrubal Cabrera (4.20 'POG' points) and Matt LaPorta (2.91) each had great games as well as did the entire bullpen (7.04 combined score).
It may seem repetitive to keep mentioning the bullpen night after night, but if a player hit a home run every single game it would be worth mentioning and what the Bullpen Mafia is doing is helping the team win a lot more than a single home run. Yet again the bullpen, tonight consisting of Chad Durbin, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez, kept the opposition from scoring a single run to maintain a perilous one run lead for 4 innings. Every relief pitcher tonight got a decision with the first 4 getting holds and Chris Perez getting a save.
The Indians had a 6 man bench available for the second night in a row and will have it for tomorrow's game as well as only 3 starting pitchers are currently on the roster. Of course everyone is well rested right now so it isn't really necessary and the 6 players, have had a total of one at bat in the last two games. Hopefully Ezequiel Carrera will at least get one start before he's removed from the roster either for Jeanmar Gomez or Fausto Carmona.
The Indians grabbed a tie for first place in the Central Division last night and maintained first tonight by beating the Orioles. If they can just win every game for the rest of the season, they will be all set as the 2011 Central Division Champions.
They are who we though they were. The Orioles score a lot of runs and have terrible pitching. Not many surprises so far this series.
We've mentioned this before on BurningRiverBaseball, but it may be time to move Carlos Santana down in the lineup. One spot lower would have helped today as Grady Sizemore had a great game from the 5 spot and the Indians probably would have scored a few more runs without Santana's 0-4 performance. Santana left two runners in scoring position and struck out twice. This is not to say he is not a good hitter, just that he isn't as good as Sizemore and could benefit from a position in the lineup with less pressure.
Josh Tomlin made it through 5 innings to keep his record going, but just barely. Tomlin allowed 3 home runs (his only weakness this season) for a total of 5 earned runs. The first home run came off a 3-1 count where one of the balls was called for Tomlin going to his mouth while on the mound. It is possible that the combination of his poor control and his distress over being called for a free ball lead to the meat ball pitches he threw to Matt Weiters and Nolan Reimold that turned into home runs in the second inning.
Orlando Cabrera was thrown out stealing by 5 feet after getting a great jump. Might be time to get some younger wheels in there at second base. Off the top of my head, maybe someone like Jason Kipnis. Just a suggestion.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 6 - Baltimore Orioles 5
Player of the Game
Carlos Santana hit a home run, a double and knocked in 3 to win tonight's 'Player of the Game' with a score of 6.01. This marks the first time that Justin Masterson didn't win this award in his last 4 starts. It is just Santana's third 'Player of the Game' of the season.
The Indians came back strong and well rested after the All-Star break, scoring 8 runs for the first time in the last 10 games. They started off especially strong with both Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana hitting home runs for a quick 3 run lead that the Indians would never relinquish.
Lonnie Chisenhall was back in action after having his face destroyed a week ago with the aid of a new batting helmet. Lonnie and his new helmet went 0-3, but it's just good to have him back in the lineup.
The Bullpen Mafia had another strong showing tonight, especially Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp who pitched a perfect 8th and 9th innings, striking out 5 of the 6 batters faced.
Justin Masterson allowed more than double his usual amount of runs by giving up 4 in 6 innings. He also allowed 8 hits, including 4 doubles. On a positive note, he struck out 8 batters in those innings.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 8 - Baltimore Orioles 4
The first half of 2011 couldn't have ended any uglier for the Orioles. The seven-game losing streak couldn't drown out the thud that was an ejection-marred series against the division rival Red Sox. The clubs emptied the benches twice Friday and some high-and-tight pitches Sunday rounded out the four-game Boston sweep as both managers were ejected. Orioles players insisted they were sticking up for themselves, perhaps after a breaking point in which they felt like Boston was having its way with the Baltimore club. This season was supposed to be one where the Orioles finally challenged the elusive .500 win percentage. The team upgraded its offense in the offseason through trades -- acquiring Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy -- and via free agency -- signing Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero. But the sore spot has been the rotation, which looked strong after the season's first two weeks. Now, the rotation is devoid of its most promising starters -- with Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman all in the minors. The only hope for the Orioles' fan base -- which hasn't seen a winner since the 1997 season -- is that the club will finish strong, like it did after manager Buck Showalter took over.
The Orioles were swept in Cleveland, April 15-17, by scores of 8-2, 8-3 and 4-2. Masterson and Tomlin each earned a victory.
RHP Justin Masterson (7-6, 2.64 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-12, 4.23), Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Josh Tomlin (10-4, 3.81) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (9-6, 4.90), Friday at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-6, 4.28) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (1-2, 4.85), Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Jeanmar Gomez (0-1, 4.91) vs. TBA, Sunday at 1:35 p.m.
RHP Brad Bergesen (right forearm contusion) left the July 8 game after being struck by a line drive. X-rays were negative, and he is day-to-day.
LF Luke Scott (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. A medical test July 8 found no need for surgery, and he is expected to be activated July 19.
2B Brian Roberts (concussion-like symptoms) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to May 17.
INF Cesar Izturis (ulnar nerve injury in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 21. He had surgery May 24. As of July 3, he was hitting and handling other baseball activities at the club's spring training base. He might be able to start a rehab assignment after the All-Star break.
RHP Justin Duchscherer (sore left hip, sore back) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22 and was moved to the 60-day list on April 18. He underwent a medical procedure April 7 to relieve back pain. He threw two innings in extended spring training May 13, but he was scratched from a scheduled May 18 appearance. He had another setback in extended spring training June 7, when he experienced gluteal spasms. He cut short another extended spring training outing June 16 because of pain in his left hip. On July 11, he was given clearance to resume workouts in Sarasota, Fla.
LF Luke Scott continues to make progress in his recovery from a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He is expected to be ready to come off the disabled list July 19, the first day he is eligible to return.
RHP Justin Duchscherer was given clearance Monday by Orioles ortopedist John Wilckens to resume working out at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla. Duchscherer has been on the disabled list all season because of hip and shoulder injuries.
RHP Mitch Atkins was officially welcomed to the American League East Sunday. After an impressive Orioles debut in his start at Texas last week, Atkins didn't escape the second inning Sunday. He allowed six runs on seven hits—including three homers—in 1 1/3 innings.
RHP Jeremy Guthrie was needed in relief Sunday, but is scheduled to start the opener of the second half Thursday. Guthrie fell to 3-12, despite giving up just one run on three hits over 3.1 innings. When the second half opens, he will be followed by RHP Jake Arrieta Friday and RHP Alfredo Simon Saturday. The remainder of the rotation was not announced Sunday.
3B Mark Reynolds left in the third inning after being hit on the right hand with a Kyle Wieland pitch. INF Robert Andino moved from second to third, and INF/OF Blake Davis entered to play second. Reynolds entered Sunday with 15 strikeouts in his previous 30 at-bats. The slugger has shown improvement in the first half in striking out less, but has been inconsistent offensively and defensively for much of the season.
DH Vladimir Guerrero followed in 3B Mark Reynold's footsteps, departing Sunday's game in the seventh after he was hit on the right hand. Guerrero was 1-for-2 with an RBI before he departed. OF Felix Pie replaced him at designated hitter.
LHP Zach Britton was surprised by his demotion Saturday, but the move could allow the Orioles to gain back the year of service time they planned to spare this spring. According to The Sun, the plan is for Britton to return June 30, providing him the necessary 20 days to gain back a year of service time. The Orioles initially planned to keep Britton in the minors through April, but they were forced to call him up when LHP Brian Matusz was hurt on opening day.
Player of the Game
This will be the only game of the season that the 'Player of the Game' is not an Indian. Try as hard as they could, neither Tribe representative was able to make a big enough difference in the outcome of the game. This is also the only game of the season where I keep track of both teams scores as this is very complex and time consuming. The final team 'POG' scores were 21.00 for the NL and 3.27 for the AL. Adrian Gonzalez was the American League's best player with a final score of 3.15, but the real 'Player of the Game' was Prince Fielder, who won the game with a 3 run home run and finished the game with a final 'POG' score of 5.42.
Asdrubal started at shortstop for the American League due to the fact that the shortstop who was voted into the game, Derek Jeter, didn't even bother to show up. While he absolutely deserved the start, he wasn't all that spectacular as he went 0-2 with a strike out before he was replaced by former Indian shortstop, Jhonny Peralta. Cabrera was unable to show off his glove as well as he muffed the only ball hit to him. Overall this game really isn't important and he didn't give up any unearned runs so hopefully he had a good time at his first of what should be many All-Star games.
The Rage was alive and raging in Phoenix as Chris Perez pitched a scoreless inning against the National League. He pitched the 6th inning and didn't have a lead at the time so it was a little different situation than he is used to. None of that mattered to Perez as he still excelled, striking out NL MVP Joey Votto and only allowing one hit to his former teammate Yadier Molina. His scoreless outing kept the American League within three runs. With Mariano Rivera also sitting out, Chris Perez was the best closer available to the AL, but manager Ron Washington still decided to use him early in the game.
Of the game itself, the American League was hurt by injuries and drop outs as some of the best players in baseball were kept out of the game. Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, C.C. Sabathia, David Price, James Shields, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez all dropped out of the game beforehand for one reason or another while Josh Beckett and Miguel Cabrera were each injured during the game and were unable to play. The players lost by the NL were no where near the stature of those lost by the AL and this really slanted the odds toward the NL before the game even started.
Final Score: American League 1 - National League 5
Best player: Righthander Alex White opened at Triple-A Columbus with a 1.90 ERA in four starts, then went 1-0, 3.60 in three big league starts before suffering a sprained right middle finger that has sidelined him since May 21.
As White rehabs, lefthander Drew Pomeranz is following in his footsteps as another fast-track draft pick. The fifth overall pick in 2010, Pomeranz, like White, began his career at high Class A Kinston. Pomeranz was off to a 2-2, 1.93 start through 12 outings in the Carolina League, with a potential promotion to Double-A looming.
Biggest Leap Forward: Infielder Cord Phelps wasn't a popular name on the lips of Tribe fans entering the season. Yet Phelps hit his way into the big league lineup just when the club needed an offensive spark. Originally a second baseman, Phelps has spent the last year and a half moving around the infield between second base, shortstop and third base, while mixing in appearances at Columbus as a DH. After batting .299/.391/.488 in 55 games for Columbus, Phelps was promoted to Cleveland in June. He was hitting .196/.315/.326 through 19 games, but he did chip in a three-run walkoff home run to help beat the Pirates on June 19.
Biggest Disappointment: The pure athleticism of outfielder LeVon Washington was too much for the Indians to pass up in last year's draft, despite warning signs about his maturity. Still, the Tribe rolled the dice and selected Washington out of Chipola (Fla.) CC with their second-round pick, handing him a $1.2 million bonus.
Considered raw with a below-average arm in the outfield, the one thing Washington was expected to do was hit. However, he has struggled at the plate at low Class A Lake County to start the season, batting .219/.330/.332 in 49 games.
Before the season, most members of the media and baseball experts saw the Indians finishing a distant fourth or perhaps even fifth in the 2011 Central. However, the team jumped out to a big early lead, and although things have slowed down for the Tribe, at the All-Star break they are only half a game behind division-leading Detroit. Players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Justin Masterson, JoshTomlin, and Carlos Carrasco have led the charge. Like all teams (especially those in the AL Central), the Indians have holes, especially with Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore taking their traditional stints to the disabled list. Such holes aren't always easy to fill. However, during yesterday’s Cleveland-Toronto tilt, as the Blue Jays’ announce team raved about Orlando Cabrera‘s status as a veteran leader and good luck charm, it struck me again that the Indians do have a obvious solution in at least one spot. According to second base prospect Jason Kipnis (who hit a home run in Sunday night’s Futures Game), the team has his phone number. Why won’t they give him a call?
I’ll be the first to admit that I have no way of knowing what sort of miraculous effects Orlando Cabrera’s intangibles have on a team — maybe he really is the cause of Cleveland’s run at the division title this season. Leaving that possibility aside, he’s been statistically bad this season. Yet he has started 70 games at second base. He might have made sense as a stopgap for the team before the season, but if they are serious about making a run at the division, it’s time to move on.
The real issue here is Kipnis. Along with recent call-up Lonnie Chisenhall, Kipnis is widely regarded as one of Cleveland’s top prospects. Indeed, I’ve even seen him listed ahead of Chisenhall in one or two places. It is interesting to compare Kipnis’s numbers in the minors to fellow-converted second baseman Dustin Ackley. While Ackley (23) is rightly considered the superior prospect, Kipnis (24) is only a year older, his numbers on similar levels are every bit as good as Ackley’s, and while Kipnis’s fielding at second is described as a work in progress, I don’t think that’s any different than Ackley’s situation. The Mariners probably are out of it for good this season, but they saw Ackley as ready, and called him up.
Of course, just because Seattle called their hot second base prospect up doesn’t mean that Cleveland should do the same. The more interesting comparison is with Cleveland’s own decision to call up Chisenhall (21) to play third base. Despite the exceptions I mentioned above, most prospect-watchers do consider Chisenhall to be the superior prospect to Kipnis, as his young age allows for greater upside. His glove is also better at his position. However, prior to the season few expected Chisenhall to be up before September. Moreover, Chisenhall wasn’t exactly tearing it up at AAA this season, and had some injury issues as well. However, one might be able to understand the Indians’ decision to call Chisenhall up given that they are in the divisional race and that Jack Hanahan is only a stopgap himself. However, just about any justification of that sort used for calling up Chisenhall applies even moreso to Kipnis. Hannahan is only a stopgap, but I would argue that he’s better than Cabrera (he at least isn’t worse). Whatever their respective upsides, Kipnis’ bat is clearly better than Chisenhall’s a the moment. If the team wants to preserve service time, then why would they call up Chisenhall?
There are other issues but they are easily set aside: the team does have more “depth” at second, but if they seriously wanted to give Luis Valbuena another chance, they wouldn’t have given Cabrera the job in the first place. Joe suggests the team even trade from this depth. Cord Phelps is a more interesting issue, but it isn’t clear that the team views him as a serious option (rightly or wrongly). If they are trying to win this season, they need to go with the best player at the position, and that this point, it’s Kipnis. Hopefully for Tribe fans, he comes up after the break is over. I’m sure the team has their reasons for the decisions they’ve made, but in light of the aggressive promotion of Chisenhall, I honestly can’t see why Kipnis isn’t up already.
Jason Kipnis needs to be called up from Columbus... soon.