Player of the Game
Shin-Soo Choo barely edged out Jack Hannahan for tonight's 'Player of the Game' against the Kansas City Royals. Choo went 2-4 with a single, a steal, a home run and 4 RBI. Hannahan almost matched him, going 3-4 with 2 solo home runs and 3 runs scored. Choo ended the game with a 'Player of the Game' score of 7.74, while Hannahan had a 7.48. Choo was guaranteed the award on the final out of the game, when he made an amazing diving catch in right field, saving a possible 2 runs from scoring.
After not hitting any home runs in Kansas City during the last four game series, the Indians hit 5 tonight at home. Along with those already mentioned, Hannahan with 2 and Choo with one, were Matt LaPorta and Grady Sizemore. Grady not only hit the home run, but also hit 2 doubles and scored 2 runs. Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan hit back to back (and belly to belly) home runs for the first time this season. The teams power stroke was back with a vengeance tonight. The Indians have now hit 17 home runs at home, compared to only 7 on the road.
If I picked 'Player of Game' by emotion, rather than by actual output, there is no question today's player of the game would have been Vinnie Pestano. After Tony Sipp started the 8th inning by allowing a single and 2 walks to load the bases, Pestano came in and decimated the middle of the Royals lineup. With nobody out, Vinnie got the first and third hitters to pop up and sandwiched a strike out in between to save the lead. This was probably the hardest spot any Indians pitcher has been put in this season, and Pestano excelled in it.
Everybody hit tonight. Only Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Santana failed to reach base safely and that was made up for by Grady and Hannahan's three hit performances. Strikeouts were down as well as the team only struck out three times, two of which were Santana and Cabrera, who each had an off night.
There are no surprises left between these two teams. While perennial playoff teams like the Twins may not have enough time to tell their players that Shin-Soo Choo has one of the best arms in the country, the Royals and Indians now know each other better than any other teams. This meant tonight that the Royals didn't test Choo's arm when they had the chance early in the game. It also meant that they knew they had to keep Choo and Grady close at first base, but let Asdrubal Cabrera stray a little, because they weren't worried about him stealing. It also helped the Indians tonight, because it meant that Luke Hochever didn't have anything the Indians didn't already see last week.
Carlos Santana had a really bad game. Its easy to overlook, because the rest of the team played so well, but Santana accounted for 6 outs in only 4 at bats. Carlos grounded into two double plays and struck out, leaving 2 runners in scoring position on during the game. As the old saying goes, somebody has to get out.
Final Score: Indians win and stay in first place over the third place Royals.
Cleveland Indians 9
Kansas City Royals 4