April 23, 2014

White Sox 8 Indians 7: Staying Up Until 1:45 Wasn’t Fun This Time

I don’t even know where to start.

I don’t like being the guy who blames umpires/refs/officials for a loss.  I’d say every year you lose one game in baseball strictly thanks to terrible umpiring. That game was last night.

Sure, you can point the finger at Ubaldo Jimenez, who was very unimpressive and unable to get out of the fifth inning. You could look at Shin-Soo Choo who had the winning run on third with one out in the 13th and K’d. He was also bailed out in the bottom of the ninth when his one out double play ball was booted by Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, allowing the tying run to score. But the biggest factor in this game was clearly the umpiring.

To call it embarrassing doesn’t do it justice. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz had a seemingly one way strike zone wider than the Grand Canyon for 14 innings while also calling pitches at the ankles as strikes. First base ump Wally Bell was constantly out of position, including what could have been a game winning blown call in the 10th. Third base umpire Scott Barry called every single check swing a strike, no matter how far a player went (Travis Hafner’s K in the ninth was the most egregious with the winning run on second and two out) and blew a huge call at third. Second base umpire John Hirshbeck had issues of his own on Choo’s “single” in the fourth. Lets look at the worst of the worst:

  • Trailing 5-2 in the fourth with two on and one out, Asdrubal Cabrera was called out on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly a foot outside. It wasn’t even close. The next four Indians reached on two singles and two walks. The “called third strike” cost the Tribe one run there.
  • With the score tied at five Alejandro De Aza tripled in Brent Morel, to put the Sox ahead. Choo threw an absolute strike to third that beat De Aza to the bag. He was clearly out, yet Barry ruled him safe. Paul Konerko followed by singling De Aza in. That was the second run the umpires cost the Indians.
  • While it didn’t cost them a run in the 10th thanks to a double play by Konerko, Bell missed Matt LaPorta tagging De Aza in the back on a drag bunt. Replays clearly showed he was out. Tony Sipp, who was lifted for Chris Perez after the blown call, was so frustrated he was screaming at Bell on his way off the field and was tossed. Sipp went back to get in his face and get his moneys worth.

Which brings me to Acta. Last year I was very critical of him not sticking up for his players with close plays on the field. I respect the fact that he is a mild mannered, calm guy. But last night screamed for him to get tossed and make a scene. How many more times can his team get screwed in one game before he comes out and loses it? If there was ever a night to do it, it was last night.

Ugh. Did I really stay up until 1:45 for this?

Back to Jimenez. I will give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but last night was the type of game that you traded for him to show up and win. Instead, he wet himself.

“I didn’t have any command of my pitches,” said Jimenez. “I couldn’t throw my fastball or breaking ball for a strike. They knew it. Everytime I was falling behind in the count, they looked for a fastball and did what they were supposed to do.”

That’s not what you want to here from your newly minted #1 starter against the team that is directly chasing his team. To put things into perspective, think about the fact that Jimenez was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning, allowing four earned runs on nine hits in 105 pitches. Josh Tomlin hasn’t gone less than five innings in any of his 36 career starts.

But while Jimenez was getting worked over, the Indians offense continued to battle back. They trailed 2-0 in the fourth, but got one back on an Asdrubal Cabrera sac fly.  The inning could have been bigger, but Choo’s gap shot to the wall was stopped because of an interference call between SS Alexi Ramirez and Michael Brantley, who ran into each other as Brantley hit second base. Choo was half way to second when Brantley was knocked down. It was clear Choo would be into second with a double, yet the play was stopped. Hirshbeck asked for help, didn’t get any, and Choo was stopped at first. After the sac fly by AC where Choo would have been moved to third, Hafner grounded into an inning ending DP.

After Jimenez gave up a solo homer to Juan Pierre (he of no power and one homer entering last night) in the fourth, they got it back on a Jason Donald sac fly. Ubaldo was knocked out by three Sox runs in the fifth, and once again the Wahoos came back with a vengeance.

Facing starter Gavin Floyd who struck out seven of the first nine guys he faced, they scored twice on two-out RBI singles by Hafner and Carlos Santana to chase Floyd. In came lefty Will Ohman who couldn’t find the plate, despite Diaz’s joe of a strikezone. He walked Kosuke Fukudome to load the bases and Donald to force in the tying run. After five and a half, we were tied at five.

The Tribe offense was showing the grit that had been lacking for long stretches of the season.

Frank Herrmann, who relieved Jimenez in the fifth, was touched up for two runs as the Sox again forged ahead 7-5. The first run came on the afformentioned De Aza “triple” where he was clearly out. He would score on Konerko’s single.

Hafner’s solo bomb off of lefty Chris Sale in the eighth got the Tribe to within a run. In the bottom of the ninth, they had one last chance, this time against Sox closer Sergio Santos. He made the mistake of walking pinch hitter Ezequiel Carrera with one out. Michael Brantley, who had three hits in his return to the lineup, blooped a single in front of Alex Rios in Center with Carrera moving the whole way. It was a risk Zeke took, but a smart one. They were in business with runners at the corners and one out. Choo then brought in Zeke to tie the game on a fielder’s choice that Beckham bobbled at second. Cabrera singled moving Choo to second, but Hafner K’d to end the threat.

Vinnie Pestano got the Sox in the ninth and on to extras we went where both teams took turns failing to come through and win the game.

The Sox put two on in the 10th against Sipp and Chris Perez, but didn’t score thanks to a one-out DP from Konerko. In the 11th, they managed to strand Rios after a leadoff triple, quite the Houdini act by the Tribe closer.

Cabrera never moved after his leadoff walk in the 12th. The Sox left Brent Morel on second in the bottom half of the inning against Chad Durbin, the Tribe’s last reliever.

In the 13th, the Indians had their best chance to take the lead. They loaded the bases against Jesse Crain with one out on two walks and a Brantley single. But Crain came back to K Choo and get Cabrera to ground out.

Finally, the Sox broke through in the bottom of the 14th. Beckham doubled with one out and was moved to third on an infield single by Morel. David Huff, scheduled to start this weekend in Detroit, was summoned to face the lefty Pierre and Pierre got him with an RBI single to left to win it for the Sox.

“This one hurts, obviously,” Perez said. “But we’re not going anywhere. And I’m sure that the Tigers and White Sox are waiting for us to drop out, like, ‘Oh, they’re not supposed to be here.’ We’re not going to go anywhere.”

The Sox sit just a half game back of the Indians, who are three back of the Tigers. Where the Indians are right now can be traced right back to their lack of success against Chicago, who are now 7-1 against them. That number is exactly why this is a three-team race and the Indians haven’t been able to shake their South Side nemesis.

“It’s definitely something we need to change — 7-1 against a team,” Perez said. “That’s not a fluke. At the same time, it doesn’t bury us. But it would be nice to hold our own.”

  • mgbode

    i kept reminding myself that Choo is just coming back from a semi-major injury and he needs to be given time. but, when did he forget how to read a fly ball? he was taking terrible routes before the injury and he has continued. we have Manny Ramirez in RF again (great arm but only used to make up for terrible defense).

    Ubaldo was disappointing again. Hopefully, he figures things out soon.

    White Sox had way more opportunities than we did to score runs and I was impressed that we held them down and kept coming back. That’s the biggest positive from the game.

    You mentioned the UMP situation already. Very frustrating. Actually, to the point that I switched over to the radio broadcast in the extra innings because I couldn’t take watching a different game than the ump’s anymore.

    as a great pretend manager once said: one of these days we’ll figure out how to beat those guys.

  • The Conductor

    What do you call two Mexican guys playing basketball?

    Juan on Juan Pierre

  • http://exiledclevelander.wordpress.com AMC

    Wow what a frustrating game. It’s incredible to me that the umpires at the MLB level are so consistently bad.

    I won’t blame this loss on Ubaldo, but if he’s just somewhat effective, the Indians win the game, possibly going away. Painful to watch this team continually struggle to get runners in from 3rd with less than two outs too. I knew the Tribe was toast when they failed to score in the 13th after loading the bases with only one out.

    The Indians have 10 games left against the ChiSox the rest of the way. If they can’t post something like 4-6 in those games, it’s going to be awfully tough for this team to have a shot at the playoffs unless the Tigers regress. Going to be a tough task tonight with Carmona, who has been TORCHED by the White Sox this season, going against Buerhle.

  • boomhauertjs

    My friends and I were talking about the umpiring last week and wondering why MLB can’t use electronic technology to call balls and strikes (using microchips in the plate and in the players uniforms). The home plate ump would still need to call foul tips, check swings, and plays at the plate, but it would eliminate the arbitrary strike zones that plague MLB games on a nightly basis.

    And if such a system had been in place in Game 6 of the 1995 Series, this website might not be called Waiting for Next Year…

  • woodsmeister

    Actually, the strike 3 call on Cabrera cost the team two runs. The fly ball that was out 3 of the inning would have been a sac fly scoring a runner from third.

  • Ghost To Most

    I noticed it too MG, Choo’s struggles in the outfield continue. Fukudome looks a bit out of place in center too. Makes me nervous.

  • oribiasi

    Off topic — does WFNY have a store (or a link to a Cleveland-sports-themed store) somewhere? I was trying to find a good one but I’m at work and can’t devote much time to searching. Ideas? Links?

  • Ben

    The problem with games like last night is that you realize we have reached a point where a machine would be better. The balls and strikes last night were borderline comedy. The fact that 4 people on the field can’t see an obvious interference call. A first base umpire that is horribly out of position to see a tag. The thing that bothers me the most is that Laz Diaz and CB Bucknor are so bad at their jobs that people know their names. Now go out and find a way to beat this team tonight.

  • oribiasi

    @ boomhauertjs — don’t even start… :(

  • Mike E
  • Stinkfist

    glad I didnt watch it. ouch!

  • Frustrated

    Let’s not forget about the run we were cost on Choo’s “single.” When Brantley was interfered with rounding second, Choo was CLEARLY cruising on his way into second and even fell over stopping himself to get back to first base. Brantley was correctly awarded third, and I’m unaware of any official rules here, but Choo would have easily been on second. Instead he was on first and boom…double play ball.

    p.s. Brantley might have scored had he not been interfered with too. Alexi Ramirez once again proving that he’s a horrible person.

  • Shamrock

    Closer to third then first now

  • The Talented Mr. Kielty

    After that game I left in a Huff…

  • TSR3000

    This one hurt. We have to figure out how to beat those clowns.

  • jimkanicki

    linked below is an example of diaz’ umping and of what might have been a catastrophic 9th inning loss. pestano should have the K and then a pitch later there’s a man on second. fortunately we pestano got us out of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Id4Y-lZk2E

  • mgbode

    last 7 road losses have been walk-off wins. ugh!

    (hat tip to IPI for pointing this out though I might rather not have fully realized that)

  • christopher

    “Back to Jimenez. I will give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but last night was the type of game that you traded for him to show up and win. Instead, he wet himself.”

    couldnt agree more, expect for the part about giving him the benefit of the doubt. Why do that? What benefit does he deserve from us?

    this trade was sold to us as securing a legitimate starter for two prospects…so far all I have seen is what we were told from the national media. We sent our two best pitching prospects for another absent minded former flamethrower that can’t locate his second or third pitches.

    last nights game sealed the deal for me; i hate the trade and the Rockies are laughing all the way to the bank with two of our starting rotation players for next year.

  • JM

    You can blame the umps and I did myself. But the team has to score a run especially when runners are in scoring position. And hopefully Ubaldo figures it out real quick. The positive attitude of the team only goes so far when you lost ground instead of staying at 2 games back. Get it together guys and let’s see the team that won the last 2 series and hung in there with Texas and Boston.

  • Harv 21

    @ Christopher: “What benefit does he deserve from us?” Agree. None, is the answer. Jiminez trade was high risk/high reward, and if he doesn’t help us right now doubt we’ll get 2 Pomeranz/White-type prospects back when we trade him.

    But on the bright side:

    - The talk about a drop in Ubaldo’s velocity is unfounded. Clearly he has great stuff. Of course there’s that control thing …

    - Tribe fought back all night, and they will not come out crushed tonight. This team has resilience. And they need resilience with so many guys in the lineup who are unreliable at best. Believe a Wedge team would have smoldered it’s way to ashes by now. The kids fight for Acta.

    - Rookies are playing unafraid. Carrera looks pretty confident for a guy just called up. Chiz is in the middle of a “dazed and confused” at the plate but looks mighty comfy at third and letting go of his weak ABs when he picks up his glove. Kipnis clearly thinks he belongs. Not sure if this is a different type of young player they are collecting or whether Manny creates a better atmosphere but none of these guys seem too jumpy.

    - Chicago is not all that impressive. All they had to do was sit on Ubaldo’s fastball.They didn’t and couldn’t put him away.

    BTW, don’t agree that De Aza was clearly out at third. Was close but looked like a good call to me. More troubling was the attitude of the umps. When the third base ump blows another check-swing appeal and then feels the need to stare down the dugout, that’s loss of control.

  • mrcdebenz7

    why pitch durbin in 14th?
    Trying to save Huff’s start? Trying to match righties lefties?

    Durbin’s already maxed at pitches & Huff’s not familar coming on with base runners on?

    Acta failed on this call…

  • NJ

    The answer to bad umps isn’t instant replay or electronic strike zones. It’s better umps.

    I can handle a blown call here or there, but what kills me is lack of consistency with balls/strikes and chronically taking bad angles on plays.

    Sure seems like we’ve had more than our share of poorly officiated umped games this year.

    @21 – I didn’t get that either. Acta clearly was willing to bring Huff in. Then why not bring him in at the start of the inning rather than half way through?

  • bigbob

    This is such sour grapes. I never realized indians fans were such whiners. De Aza was NOT clearly out, the play was bang bang and could have easily gone either way. The strike zone was bad for both teams, and Dunn and Morel were also victimized by the third base ump and his check swings. Stop whining about the Ramirez play and look at the rules to see if the umps should have awarded Choo second. I don’t know if they should have, but none of you whiny Indians fans have bothered to even look. The only call you might have a legit gripe on is the Sipp one and the umpire was clearly blocked. Maybe if Choo and Fukudome didn’t misplay every ball in the gap, and didn’t give up 22 hits they wouldn’t have lost. Stop being whiny bitches and blaming the umps for a game you never should have even been in. You’re 1-7 against the Sox this year, They’re the clearly superior team. Go back to your sinkhole of a city and STFU.

  • Anthony

    Good news is we’re still a half game up on these guys. Bad news is Fausto is on the hill tonight. Not that he hasn’t been better lately, but it’s Chicago.

  • bigbob

    thanks for moderating my comment that had nothing offensive in it, just a rational analysis of why the indians aren’t good, deserved to lose the game and and that your’e all biased whiners. way to have skinner thinner than plastic wrap

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    BTW, don’t agree that De Aza was clearly out at third. Was close but looked like a good call to me.

    I have to mostly agree here. I thought he was out, but only after seeing TWO super-slo-mo replays. It’s easy for us to sit here and Monday morning QB it, but as bad as the 3B ump was on check swings, I’m not going to say that if I had just one look–at full speed–to make that call, I might not have called him safe, too.

  • Anthony

    #foot in mouth @ my earlier comment

    And @ bigbob, isn’t trolling for whiners?