Somebody break up the Indians! They did it again!
The Indians actually look like a major league baseball team…and it’s fun. Last night they sent the Boston Red Sox to yet another loss by winning their third in a row. The win has improved their record to 3-2 to start the season while the Red Sox and their billion dollar payroll are 0-5. So much for spending all that money to get ahead.
In their defense, part of that offseason splurging paid off for them last night. Adrian Gonzalez sent a ball flying out into the right field stands off of Frank Herrmann, but it was nowhere near enough. It also hasn’t helped that Carl Crawford looks like Stevie Wonder in the batter’s box right now. He might be pressing juuuuuuust a little bit The Indians on the other hand were an offensive juggernaut. Shin-Soo Choo got things started in the bottom of the first with his first home run of the season. I think it’s safe to say everybody, myself included, can stop worrying about Choo and whether or not his bat will show up. Asdrubal Cabrera also got in on the fun. Up 4-2 in the 6th with two men on, Asdrubal Cabrera sent a Dan Wheeler fastball out to right field. It was Cabrera’s first home run of the season and put the Indians up for good. Not to be outdone, and possibly to respond to my pleading for some sign of life, matt LaPorta finally hit a home run. Granted it came off of the 97 year old knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, but it was a home run none the less.
While all of the home runs were fun, perhaps the play of the game had to come just prior to Asdrubal Cabrera’s home run. With the bases loaded no one out, Michael Brantley sent a screaming liner down to Kevin Youkilis at third. Stone Hands Youkilis dropped the liner and Travis Buck sprinted for home. As Youkilis picked the ball up and fired it home he stepped on third forcing out LaPorta. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek caught Youkilis’ throw and… did nothing. He stepped on the plate assuming it was still a force out. He never saw Youkilis step on third, or the umpire’s signal for “out.” Buck scored and everyone scratchedtheir heads. i was listening to the Indians radio feed and even I had no clue what was going on. The replay confirmed it. Varitek screwed up and Buck was safe. Francona didn’t even bother to argue the call even though he came out of the dugout.
Meanwhile, Indians Pitcher Mitch Talbot was good, but not great. OK, he wasn’t even good. I was reaching for a compliment. He only made it through 4.1 innings and they weren’t pretty. It was quite apparent the control problems that plagued him throughout the spring followed him back to Cleveland. But he didn’t give up the big hit and he found a way to get out of jams without giving up the big inning. Thanks to the pitching of Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin over the past two games, the bull pen was plenty rested and able to close out the game for him. Chad Durbin, Rafael Perez, Frank Hermann, Tony Sipp, and Vinnie Pestano threw 4.2 innings of 2 hit baseball giving up only 2 runs (the Gonzalez homerun). It was exceptional. The bull pen is a real strength for this team and if they can keep it up, the Indians will stick around longer than people think.
Talbot was also helped by the fact that Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was almost equally terrible. He managed to pitch five complete innings, but it was a slow, disjointed outing that lacked any kind of flow. Once again he was faced with an elevated pitch count early because he nibbled the strike zone rather than going right after hitters. I’d also like to ask an important question about the Red Sox bullpen. Why is Dennys Reyes their only left handed option out of the pen? He’s 35 years old and has been pitching in the major leagues since 1993 or 1994. They couldn’t find a better option off in the off season, or off of the waiver wire once camps broke last week? I have a feeling that decision is going to come back to bite them in the asses more than just last night.
It was a great win by the Indians and they’ll look to sweep the Red Sox today as Fausto Carmona faces off against Jon Lester in a matinée. Can they pull off the impossible and send the Red Sox back to Boston 0-6 to face the Yankees? Will the entire city of Boston be put on a suicide watch? I guess we’re just going to have to wait and find out.