Not only are your Cleveland Indians a bad baseball team, but they are becoming a complete bore to watch. I feel sorry for guys like Paul Hoynes, Sheldon Ocker, and Jim Ingraham who are forced to not only sit through nine innings of garbage, but the post game autopsy as well every single night. I certainly could think of better ways to spend my summer.
I fancy myself as the Tribe watcher of the WFNY group. So as usual, I settled in for some Wahoo “action” last night. Carl Pavano took the hill trying to recover from his three start nightmare. Leadoff man Scott Podsednik singled, stole second, was moved over to third on a ground out, and singled in by Jermaine Dye. In the second inning with two out and nobody on, Chris Getz doubled and Gordon Beckham’s RBI single made it 2-0.
“Here we go again” I thought. But then something fascinating happened at the Jake. An actual pitchers duel broke out. Pavano and Sox starter Gavin Floyd matched each other zero for zero over the next five innings. It was a ground-ball fest. While Floyd was thoroughly dominating the Tribe, facing just one over the minimum through six, Pavano settled in and regained his May form. He left on the short end of a 2-0 game after seven, allowing just five hits, striking out six and walking none.
Floyd was still pitching into the eighth, but it was the seventh where the Indians mounted their one and only rally attempt. With two out, they loaded the bases on a two walks and a single. Ryan Garko had a chance to be a hero, but instead weakly grounded one off the end of his bat towards first. Floyd picked it up and threw it to first, but home plate umpire Scott Barry ruled it foul. Both first baseman Paul Konerko and manager Ozzie Guillen immediately complained, saying the ball was fair. Barry, went looking for help from his crew.
First base umpire Phil Cuzzi said that the ball was indeed still on the chalk when Floyd picked it up, and Garko was ruled out. Replays showed it was the correct call. The over-rule set Eric Wedge into a tizzy, the likes of which we hadn’t seen from him in a long while. You could tell it wasn’t just the call, it was all of the pent-up frustration The King of all Grinders was releasing.
“They’re supposed to huddle if they’ve got a question about it,” a bitter Wedge said after the game. “I thought the home plate umpire did his job. He had a good view of it, made the call and they reversed it. They shouldn’t have reversed it. Bases loaded, 2-0 game, seventh inning … ridiculous.”
What was really ridiculous was the debut of reliever Chris Perez, who came over from St. Louis for Mark DeRosa. To say his debut was inauspicious would be putting it mildly. It was almost as if he said to himself “OK, i’m now a part of the bullpen that has been the worst in the league all year, what can I do to make my mark and fit in perfectly?”
The first batter he faced was Alexei Ramirez. Perez promptly hit him in the head. He allowed pinch runner Jayson Nix to steal second, then hit his second consecutive batter in Jermaine Dye. Up next was Jim Thome, whom Perez walked. After inducing a Paul Konerko pop out, A.J. Pierzynski hit what looked to be a potential inning ending double play ball to Garko. He threw a strike to SS Luis Valbuena, but Sweet Luis had to hold the ball as Perez failed to get to the bag in time to catch the relay throw. Pierzynski was safe at first, a run scored, and the inning continued.
I bet you can’t guess what happened next? Getz doubled home Dye to make it 4-0. Then it went from bad to worse for the righty. He uncorked a wild pitch scoring Pierzynski, then gave up another RBI single to Beckham. With that, his night was done. “Obviously, not the best first impression,” said Perez. “Hopefully, the next time will be better. I had a mental lapse and it snowballed from there.”
You may see a final score of 6-3, but don’t buy it. In the ninth inning with two outs Garko decided that was the right time to hit a two-run bomb. How Casey Blake of you, Ryan. Next time, try to come up with the big hit with the bases loaded in a two run game, rather than with the score 6-1 with two outs in the ninth. Seriously, Garko is the mirror image of his manager – starts slowly every year, then decides to pick up his game when the pressure is off. I know for a fact there is a faction within the organization that have never thought Garko was an everyday player. Too bad its now three and a half years of this and he is still being trotted out there every day.
Regardless, last night’s loss was just another in a long line of snoozer performances from this club of late. What can they do to make themselves watchable the rest of the way? We will have more on that later today.