This game could have been completely different. One single play, or should I say play not made, changed the entire complexity. What could have been a low scoring pitchers duel into the late innings turned into a laugher for the Yankees, all because of one single play.
In the top of the second, Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco loaded the bases on a single and two walks with one out. He badly needed a double play ball to get out of the jam he had put himself in. With the weak spot in the lineup, backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, coming to the plate, Carrasco needed to make a big pitch.
Cervelli sent a ground ball right to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. He flipped to second baseman Cord Phelps for one, and Phelps sent his throw to first for what should have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Cord’s throw was low and in the dirt. With a bright sun in his eyes, first baseman Carlos Santana couldn’t come up with the throw. A run scored and the inning was kept alive.
This is a play Phelps has to make. There is no excuse for such a weak throw to first. He had plenty of time to make the turn, but he side-armed it and cost the Indians not just the third out, but most likely a shot at the game.
Why you ask? Because the flood gates were about to open.
A clearly rattled Carrasco gave up a two-run double to Derek Jeter and a solo homer to Curtis Granderson (the first of his two on the night). Just like that, CC Sabathia was staked to a 5-0 lead.
It was all over at that point, the two teams just needed to play out the rest of the game.
“He didn’t make a good throw,” Tribe manager Manny Acta said. “It’s a double-play ball, and we should turn it. We’re all human and make mistakes, but we have to turn that one.”
Phelps has now made five errors in 12 games at second. You could live with it if he was hitting. But other than his walkoff two-run homer on Fathers Day, he hasn’t done much. He currently sits at .196 with five RBIs.
Meanwhile, Sabathia was mowing down the Indians like the true ace that he is. Tough lefties usually give the Tribe problems to begin with, but when you have the abilities that Sabathia does, it makes things that much harder.
“We don’t match up very good with him,” Acta said. “The majority of our hitters, especially the main guys, hit from the left side, and he’s very tough against lefties.”
Once again the Tribe’s lack of solid right-handed bats is magnified. Matt LaPorta is expected to be activated from the DL today, but he actually hits righties better than lefties.
To make matters worse, the Wahoos All-Star shortstop Cabrera injured his ankle making a jump throw to second base in the top of the fourth. The early reports say Asdrubal is day to day, which is good. Losing their MVP for a prolonged period of time would be devastating. I would expect AC to be given the night off tonight with Orlando Cabrera making his first start of the season at short.
As for Phelps, it would behoove him to start picking up his play, considering the Indians have two guys in AAA who are ready to come up and take his roster spot – Jason Donald and Jason Kipnis.
The Yankees, a night after blowing a winnable game after a key defensive mistake of their own, took out their frustrations on Tribe pitching. Their 17 hits were highlighted by Granderson’s two jacks and Jeter’s 2995th and 2996th hits of his storied career. Carrasco went just four innings, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs. In his previous five starts, he had an ERA of 0.91.
Granderson has killed the Indians this year, hitting .462 (12-26) with five homers and eight RBIs. Remember when we used to have the “who is better, Granderson or Grady Sizemore” conversations? One player’s career has gone straight up in the last three years, while the other’s has gone south.
Tonight is the rubber match between the two first place clubs and the last time the Indians and Yankees will face each other this year. Justin Masterson (6-6, 2.85 ERA) takes the ball for the Tribe and will be faced by fresh off the DL Phil Hughes (0-1, 13.94 ERA).
(Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)