6:57 PM – I’m not keeping solid food down at the moment, what with the pitching matchup we’re about to endure together: Ubaldo going up against King Felix. There are no analogies…
Anyway, I may or may not be drinking my dinner tonight. We’ll see.
7:09 PM – OMG! It’s PuppyPalooza at Progressive Field! I LOVE PuppyPalooza. (My dog just looked at me with what I can only assume is contempt. He has not been to PuppyPalooza, territorial pissing being what it is.)
Also, the first two batters have singled off Ubaldo. 1st and 3rd, nobody out. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7:15 PM – Well, that didn’t take long: we’re losing. After a wild pitch moved Saunders from first to second, Ichiro grounded out to Asdrubal, scoring Ackley from third. Got that? Good.
Because I want to say here that while this is the most Ubaldo start to a game ever, his “stuff” actually looks good to me, or at least better than what we’ve come to expect. His fastball is down in the zone, and he’s throwing it for strikes. The velo looks good, though STO isn’t presenting the gun readings. He battled against Ichiro and didn’t lose his command. The first two hits were off good pitches, and while I’m writing this sentence, he just struck out Jesus Montero on three pitches.
Granted, we’re losing by a margin (1-0) that may prove insurmountable, since we’re facing Felix Hernandez.
7:40 PM – Holy hell. How do I recap the bottom of the first? The important thing to know: the Indians are now winning 4-1. Here we go…
After Choo and Kipnis lead off the inning with singles, Asdrubal takes one in the ribs to load the bases. Felix follows with a wild pitch to score Choo, then Hafner drills a grounder to second to score Kipnis. 2-1 good guys with one out. Santana draws a walk and Brantley strikes out. So we’re first and third, two outs. Then stuff gets weird.
Acta calls for the delayed steal with Santana, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. It was a staple of my high school coaching career: you basically don’t start running until after the catcher has the ball, hoping that everyone will be caught unaware, and you get second base for free. Jesus Montero decides that the Indians are trying to steal a run with Asdrubal, so instead of throwing to second or just putting the ball in his pocket, he tries to pick Asdrubal off third.
Except, of course, he throws the ball into left field, so Asdrubal scores. Then Chone Figgins, a second baseman-turned-outfielder, makes such a terrible throw that Santana—running the whole way—manages to come around all the way from first and score. This will be the only time ever that anyone ever compares Carlos Santana to Kenny Lofton, for whatever it’s worth.
As if trying to restore balance to a world thrown off kilter by such odd and unpredictable happenings, Casey Kotchman dutifully ends the inning with a strikeout, reminding us that some things never change.
7:47 PM – I think I was right about Ubaldo: he looks much better tonight. The Mariners go 1-2-3 in the top of the second, and the Big U records his second K of the evening. The only pitch that looks off is his split-fingered change, which he’s now thrown four times (that I’ve counted); he’s bounced it twice.
But he has two functional pitches tonight, which is two more than he’s had for great swaths of this season. This is when I remind you that he’s facing a lineup that tends to make pitchers look good.
8:10 PM – Small sample sizes are the devil. After Ubaldo walks Brendan Ryan—he of the .259 OBP—Dustin Ackley drives a HR to right field. 4-3 Indians. Ubaldo follows by issuing his second walk of the night to Saunders, who then promptly steals second. Still nobody out.
He does work out of the inning without any more damage, but this isn’t the same pitcher we saw in the first two innings. And I guess that’s what’s so frustrating: you see flashes with Ubaldo when he looks like his dominant former self—swings and misses, a knee-buckling curve that falls out of the zone—but putting the whole package together for more than a few innings seems insurmountable right now.
The puppies are so cute though, you guys.
8:51 PM – I had to take a quick break to grab some dinner. Let me catch you up.
The Indians went quietly in the bottom of the third, as did the Mariners in the top of the fourth. In fact, Ubaldo sent down the side in order.
Here again, things get interesting. After a Jose Lopez ground out to begin the bottom of the fourth, Choo drives a solid single to center and advances to second on a wild pitch. Kipnis follows with an opposite-field double to the gap in in left-center, scoring Choo. An Asdrubal ground out sends Kipnis to third, who then scores on a Pronk-smash double. Santana follows with a double of his own to drive in Hafner, and then scores on a Brantley single.
The inning ends on a Johnny Damon base running error; my wife is heard smirking in the background. Tribe now leads 8-3. Even more importantly, they knock King Felix out of the game after only 3.2 innings pitched; with a day game tomorrow, abusing this bullpen tonight could prove useful.
Also, it’s pretty clear that predicting games based on pitcher matchups is a fool’s errand. Sorry ‘bout that.
9:06 PM – I don’t want this to be buried in the rest of this offensive explosion, so I’ll make it explicit here. Shin-Soo Choo just drove a double down the left field line, which makes him 3-3 so far tonight, all line-drive shots. Since May 9th, he’s batting .407 over 33 plate appearances with four doubles, four BBs, and a HR. Good on him.
9:18 PM – Ubaldo is now through six innings, which, I have to believe, is as far as he’ll go tonight (107 pitches, h/t TD). His line: 6 IP, 4Ks, 2BBs, 3ER, 1HR. I’ll stand by what I said earlier: outside of the third inning, he looked good more often than not. But those lapses count too: we can’t, as someone suggested on twitter the other day, “ignore the outliers” and pretend everything’s ok. He has all the tools to be fine. But until he puts it together for more than a few innings at a time, I’m going to keep worrying, if you don’t mind. Baby steps.
9:21 PM – SOLO PRONKSMASH! 9-3 Good guys.
They shot off fireworks and played the weird home run siren, which seems particularly cruel for a PuppyPalooza.
9:27 PM – Jeremy Accardo on to start the 7th inning. I found it somewhat interesting that he replaced Wheeler, since he had to be added to the 40-man roster while Frank Herrmann was already there. Sure, Accardo has a better early season ERA than Herrmann, but not by much considering the tiny sample (2.76 vs. 3.71). Was it worth rostering him? I guess we’ll see…
9:34 PM – Yep. I like the decision to add Accardo. Nasty splitter. Also, he sends the Mariners down in order. This is your requisite reminder that the Mariners’ lineup resembles so much sponge cake.
Now, I tend to think long-men get beat up more than they should on this front—including Wheeler, actually, who might not deserve to be the punchline of this particular joke. Anyway, I voted for Masa Kobayashi—the guy we paid over $3 million to in 2009 so that HE WOULD STOP PITCHING FOR US. Masa pitched a total of 65.1 MLB innings with a 5.10 ERA, 1.4 HR/9, 5.4 K/9, and 1.54 WHIP. According to my timeline, Chad Durbin won the popular vote, but I get eleventy billion electoral votes in polls like these, so I’m fairly certain the award goes to Masa.
Tribe still winning 9-3 going to the bottom of the eighth. Tony Sipp pitched, uneventfully, for once.
10:05 PM – I have to say: I’m kind of shocked that it’s the ninth inning already. When Felix got knocked out in the 4th inning it was nearly 9:00 PM. Needless to say, I was pretty sure I was in for a long evening. But other than the sixth inning PRONKSMASH, things have been pretty quiet as both bullpens have performed admirably. Let’s zoom in as Jairo Ascensio tries to nail this sucka down against Seattle’s 4-5-6.
10:06 PM – Hmmm. Jesus Montero hits a ball to straightaway center that backs up Cunningham (don’t ask, I didn’t realize either) up against the wall. 1 down, but it was loud.
10:07 PM – Kyle Seager just drove a line-drive single to right. Kinda loud too, come to think of it…
10:08 PM – QUIET DOWN, YOU GUYS. Justin Smoak grounds into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Suck it, Grinders.
Ubaldo gets the win, which is good, I guess. Perhaps I shouldn’t rehash my thoughts there. But the offense showed up big tonight. For a group that’s lived on the free pass so far this season, it was nice to see the lineup drive the ball with authority early and often: the first seven batters went 12 for 25 on the evening with six XBH. To see that sort of production in a start against King Felix is inarguably positive. On top of that, we’re still managing to save our bullpen: neither Pestano, Hagadone, nor Perez were forced into action tonight, which can only bode well for the second half of this interminable ‘x games in x-1 days’ stretch that we’re in.
It’s 10:21 PM now, and I think I should prolly go to bed, but just for poopy grins, it’s worth noting that the Tigers are currently losing to the Twins in the eighth inning, meaning the Tribe can put another game on the Tigers if the score holds.
Photo Credit: Chuck Crow PD