For the second straight night at the Great American Ballpark, a Tribe starter lasted only three innings. David Huff gave up 6 runs on 3 homers in his first two innings of work. Joey Votto crushed a three run homer, his second of the night, in the second inning to put the Reds up 6-4. Huff would pitch a scoreless third inning before being replaced by Greg Aquino. Four pitchers out of the Tribe’s much maligned bullpen would pitch 6 scoreless innings allowing the Tribe offense to battle back and score three runs for the victory.
Is this the beginning of a recovery for the bullpen? Where do we rank these guys in this “new” pen in terms of reliability? Both newcomers Aquino and Luis Vizcaino pitched two innings to get to the veterans Raffy Betancourt and Kerry Wood. Aquino loaded the bases at one point but was able to get out of it unscathed. Vizcaino gave up no hits in his two innings but walked three guys, two of them intentional to get around the dangerous Votto and to get to the pitcher’s spot in the order. With runners in scoring position in both innings, he was able to quickly shut the door. After a struggle in KC, Kerry Wood came out shaky giving up a leadoff single to the pesky Adam Rosales. Jay Bruce followed with what intially looked like a walkoff two-run homer off the bat. Shin-Soo Choo caught the ball up against the wall and disaster was averted as Wood induced a game ending DP for the save. After the first two games of the KC series and the first two batters of last night, anxiety had to creep in with Wood on the mound. It does not approach Bobby Wickman and Joe Bo levels but it is anxiety nonetheless.
The clutch Asdrubal Cabrera and Mark DeRosa combined to drive in all 7 runs. DeRosa hit a two run bomb to left in the second inning and singled home both Cabrera and Grady Sizemore in the 5th to tie the game at 6. Sizemore challenged the arm of left fielder Jonny Gomes on the play. Gomes, who has a strong arm, had the ball in his glove before Grady had even hit third. Sizemore continued around third and Gomes’ throw was off the line. Sizemore, directed by Cabrera who was at home after scoring, came back into fair territory to avoid the tag and tie the game. It was an exciting play with nice teamwork that clearly energized the dugout. Cabrera would knock in the winning run in the 8th on a FC ball hit to 3rd. Luis Valbuena, who led the inning with a deep leadoff double, scored the winning run after being sacrificed over to third by Jamey Carroll.
This was a rewarding victory after the rough start from Huff. It was great to see the bullpen hold the Reds scoreless for 6 full innings and equally exciting to see the offense actually come through with some clutch hits after executing sacrifices in two key spots. It remains to be seen if Huff will eventually find a spot in this rotation and it is clear he is probably not a long-term solution for this season. He has struggled in two starts against the Rays and Reds. The Indians look to win their 4th series of the year with Cliff Lee going this afternoon in what will hopefully be more than a 3 inning outing.