I’m not going to sit here and tell you the sky is falling after last night’s 8-5 loss in Texas. The fact of the matter is it’s only two games. There are 160 more to go. The $215 million Yankees are also 0-2 after losing again in Baltimore yesterday. Neither C.C Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang made it out of the fifth inning and failed to record a strike out. Does that make you feel any better?
Now to our Wahoo Warriors. Last night’s starter Fausto Carmona was hoping to take his superb Spring with him into his regular season debut. Instead, he looked like Fausto version 2008; the one who was wild with all of his pitches. The Rangers, who seem to own the Tribe no matter the year in Arlington, jumped all over him for six runs and seven hits through five innings.
Like Cliff Lee the day before, the second inning sunk Carmona. Starting with Nelson Cruz’s leadoff homer (the first of his two on the evening) and bookended by Michael Young’s RBI groundout, the Rangers knocked Carmona around with five hits and four runs. And just like Lee, he got through his next to innings with no issues.
But in the fifth, he ran right back into problems. Michael Young led off with a double and Josh Hamilton followed with an RBI triple. Carmona then hit Hank Blalock putting runners and the corners with nobody out. Cruz hit a come-backer to the mound and Carmona, without even looking back Hamilton to third, went to second for the attempted double play. Jhonny Peralta caught Fausto’s throw and tried to come home to nab Hamilton. His throw came of his back foot and he didn’t get enough juice on it to get the speedy Hamilton. At that point, it was 6-1.
“Ideally, the way the ball was hit to the first-base side,” said Manager Eric Wedge, “you check the runner and get the out at second base and leave it at that. If Jhonny was in front of the runner (Blalock), he would have had a better throw home. But he took the throw behind the runner and was blocked off.”
Said Fausto: “I thought [Hamilton] would score easy. I went to second for the double play.”
At that point, the game seemed all but over the way the Tribe bats were looking. For some reason, they were stymied by Vincente Padilla, who, through five innings, had thrown the same amount of pitches as Carmona, yet held a 6-1 lead. His night was ended with two outs in the sixth when Benny Francisco crushed a two-run shot to left field – the Indians first homer of the year and first RBI’s that have come on a hit. Their previous two runs came on a fielder’s choice and a Hit by a pitch.
Trailing 6-3 in with three innings left is far from an insurmountable lead, especially against a below-average Rangers bullpen now in play. However, the problem turned out to be with the Tribe pen, which picked the wrong time to give up the big fly. Rafael Betancourt was called for to start the sixth and hold the Texas lineup in check. Instead, he allowed a solo shot to 20 year old rookie Elvis Andrus.
The Indians got that run back thanks to a Michael Young throwing error in the seventh, but Rafael Perez gave it right back in the seventh. Cruz absolutely hammered a Perez fastball into the upper deck to put Texas back ahead 8-4. But once again, the Tribe tried to fight back. Ryan Garko doubled home Shin-Soo Choo with nobody out and a big rally seemed on the horizon. With one out, C.J. Wilson’s error put Asdrubal Cabrera on first and the tying run to the plate. But as if we were in a time warp to April 2008, Grady Sizemore and Mark DeRosa both struck out and the rally was killed.
The 8-5 loss was peppered with disturbing trends. The wildness of Carmona, the inability of the bullpen to hold down the Rangers, and the lack of hitting in the clutch. For the night, The Indians were a paltry 1-16 with runners in scoring position. That is not going to win you any games. Interestingly, the Indians managed to score five runs despite their inefficiencies with men on second or third.
Meanwhile, the Indians two “aces” at the top of the rotation have allowed 13 earned runs in 10 innings to start the season. This can’t be the way Eric Wedge wanted to start the season. I’ve said this in the past, If Lee and Carmona don’t combine for 30-35 wins and 400-420 innings pitched, the Indians will be dead in the water, no matter how bad the AL Central may be.
This afternoon’s tilt isn’t a must win by any means, but you do not want to start 0-3. It’s Carl Pavano’s first start as and Indian and there is no time like the present for him to show that he is healthy and back to his pre-Yankee form.