April 23, 2014

Blue Jays 10, Indians 8: Myers ignites fuse on Jays explosion

Brett MyersYour Wahoo Warriors headed into last night’s tilt against the Toronto Blue Jays looking for a sweep. I am trying to be a glass half-full guy when it comes to the Tribe in the Terry Francona era, so let me start with the positives.

The Indians were facing a familiar foe in former White Sox great Mark Buerhle. It seems as though the Tribe faced him almost every opening day for a decade (exaggeration here, but you get the point). Last season’s group would have cowered when a southpaw stepped to the hill, especially when you consider Manny Acta’s patented “all lefty” lineup. Francona kept his regular lineup intact for the third consecutive game. The only minor tweak was moving Mark Reynolds to first base with Nick Swisher as the DH.

Buerhle struck out Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera to open the game, which had the masses thinking “here we go again,” but then two Indians who have started slowly got off the schnide. Jason Kipnis doubled to left center for his first hit of the season and was driven in by Swisher’s ground-rule double. it was Swisher’s first RBI as an Indian. In the fourth inning, trailing 3-1, the Wahoo power attack flexed its muscles. Carlos Santana crushed his first homer of the season off of Buerhle to the seats in left. That was followed by another Reynolds titanic, second-deck blast to tie things at three. Reynolds’ two homers the past two nights traveled a combined 899 feet. Once again, Reynolds showed off that right-handed power stroke the team lacked in 2012. I for one certainly don’t miss the likes of Shelley Duncan, Casey Kotchman, and Johnny Damon regularly hitting sixth and seventh. Santana/Reynolds is quite the upgrade, don’t you think?

In the sixth inning, now trailing 6-3, they got to Buerhle again. Swisher walked to open the frame ahead of Buerhle hitting Michael Brantley with a pitch. The Tribe was in business when Santana laced a ground-rule double to left, scoring Swisher. After Reynolds popped out, Lonnie Chisenhall roped a double to left-center to tie the game and chase Buerhle. One of the big question marks surrounding Chiz was if he would be able to consistently hit left-handed pitching. This was a big step in the right direction for him. While Lonnie Baseball would be stranded at third to end the inning, the Tribe offense had fought back again to stay in the game.

They continued to have to play from behind because their newest starting pitcher, Brett Myers, was throwing batting practice to the Blue Jays.

The old saying is that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Myers spent all of 2012 in the bullpen for the Astros and the White Sox. Most of the Spring, the 32-year old veteran was trying to work himself back into a starting role and he struggled (23 runs on 36 hits in 21 innings) but the hope was that once the season started for real, he would get it together.

In his first start as an Indian, he was torched.

From the jump it was a struggle for Myers. He walked Jose Reyes on four pitches. Then two batters later, Jose Bautista got him for a two-run homer to the second deck in left. It was a sign of things to come. In the second, catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a 460-foot shot to center. With two outs in the fifth and the score tied 3-3, Edwin Encarnacion jacked a three-run homer off of Myers.

After the Wahoos came storming back with that three-spot in the sixth, Francona had a decision to make. Myers had only thrown 65 pitches, but it was clear he didn’t have it. Would he send him back out to try and steal one more inning and attempt to save his tired bullpen or would he go to Cody Allen, who had yet to see action in the first two games? Allen was warm and ready to go.

Francona stuck with Myers and he got burned. Arencibia’s second homer of the game – the fourth Myers had given up – sent the Tribe starter to the showers. “He elevated some pitches and the ones that were elevated were pretty flat,” said Francona. “Some balls left the ballpark, but there were also a lot of deep fly balls. That’s an indication.”

Enter Allen who needed to keep the Jays at bay with the Tribe now trailing by a run. Instead, Cody threw a little gasoline on the fire. With one out, Colby Rasmus hit the Blue Jays’ fifth homer of the night, a no-doubter to right field. Emilio Bonafacio then doubled. With two out, Melky Cabrera hit a grounder to Reynolds at first, Allen came over to cover first base and dropped the throw, allowing a key run to score. Reynolds was charged with the error, but Allen has to make that play.

Once again though, the Tribe’s offense scratched and clawed their way closer. Trailing 9-6 Reynolds drove in Nick Swisher with a single off of ex-Indian Esmil Rogers. The first and third two-out threat ended when Rogers K’d Chisenhall. Rogers for some reason seemed to glare into the Tribe dugout on his way off the field.

In the eighth, they would get another run thanks to back to back two-out doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. Swisher’s walk and Brantley’s infield single loaded the bases for Santana. Here was a big chance to tie or take the lead. Santana hit a hard ground ball up the middle. Bonafacio made a terrific play going to his right to save the Jays bacon.

“If it goes up the middle, we could be talking a different ballgame,” said Swisher. “Either way, I was so proud of the way the guys battled and fought.”

In the end, the deficits were just too much to overcome. Jays closer Casey Janssen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to hand the Indians their first loss of the season. When you score eight runs on 14 hits, you should win the game.

While the offense provided so many highlights, the big story in this one was the struggle of Myers. To his credit, he called himself to the carpet after the game.

“The only person at fault here is me,” said Myers. “I couldn’t get the ball down tonight. Everything was up. When you pitch up in the zone against these type of hitters in the big leagues, it’s not going to be good.”

It is only one start, but this was not what the Tribe wants to see out of their middle of the rotation, innings eating stabilizer. With the extra inning game a night before, six or seven strong innings would have been nice. But it just wasn’t in the cards. But give the Tribe credit, they fought back time and time again in this one.

“When you score eight runs, you’re probably going to win more than you’re going to lose,” said Reynolds, “The Blue Jays have a great team and we came in on the road and took two out of three. Last night and tonight, we kept battling back. That’s a sign of a good team. We didn’t get down on ourselves. Hopefully we can just keep it rolling.”

The Indians move on to Tampa for a weekend series with the Rays. For the second straight night, they will face a lefty in Matt Moore. I would expect to see Mike Aviles and/or Ryan Raburn get a start tonight against the 24-year old. The Tribe will counter with Zach McAllister.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Lyon25

    Great defensive positioning by the jays on that Santana play. Dude was already up the middle, or else that ball gets thru and we have a whole different story today

  • thebearchoo

    I don’t know if I saw a ball hit off Myers that wasn’t hit square…forget the HRs most of the outs were smoked too, a ton of breaking stuff hung right over the plate…good thing we have Carrasco hanging around because yikes. Hopefully Myers can somehow get himself straightened out.

  • mgbode

    Antonetti’s biggest mistake this offseason was signing Myers. hopefully, he figures that out before too long and moves on from the decision.

  • DCTribeFan

    Myers was unquestionably awful. The only hope is that he can get the ball down regularly–clearly he couldn’t last night. Let’s give him a few starts to re-tweak his delivery. I don’t read much into Spring Training, cause clearly he was more focused on getting stretched out than on locating his pitches. He’ll have a few more games like this, I’m sure, but hopefully many more where he holds em to one bomb and 4 runs over 6– we can win a bunch of those games with our offense.

  • DCTribeFan

    At $7M, I think he’s here to stay. If he fails, he becomes the long man out of the pen, eating innings in lop-sided losses.

  • FearTheRoo

    I didn’t mind giving him a change, but he didn’t do anything to earn the #3 spot. Is the rest of our pitching staff that bad? Our 3rd best pitcher gave up 7 runs to an overrated Blue Jays lineup…

  • Harv 21

    I had no prob with Francona sticking with Myers in the sixth. You have 13 straight April games without an off day, you spent your bullpen in extra innings the previous night, you’ve already won the series, and you need to stretch this guy out into a starter again and see if he can remember how to work his way out of trouble and eat innings. Glad Francona has the confidence to do this, and even let Myers get knocked around a few more starts to see if he comes around.

    In early April it’s sometimes a wise risk trading a win for development and information on what you have.

    Nice to see the fight in this team. They keep coming at you. Just one easily forgettable April game. Who’s got next.

  • Harv 21

    Baseball season. Six months long. We might not be done with snow in Cleveland. No woofing, no superbowl chants. Please report to your happy place, stat.

  • BenRM

    Starting pitching is hard to find, and harder to get – I’m still cool with the gamble, but I’m not optimistic.

  • BROSEPH

    I don’t really see how it’s a mistake. The signing was well before Kazmir/Dice K. Before even seeing if Carrasco could bounce back. Besides the locked in starters of Masterson and Ubaldo they were sitting with McCallister, Huff, Kluber, and Bauer (I think this trade was made after Myers signing, but I’m not sure, and if it wasn’t they made it clear they wanted him the minors anyway). I’m not sure I was comfortable going into the season with a McCallister, Huff, Kluber 3 4 5 starting rotation. Yikes.

    Plus it’s not like Myers contract is going to handcuff them going forward if he doesn’t pan out.

  • JimLahey

    The Jays might lead the league in HRs this year. 100 between Joey Bats and Encarnacion alone. Even if they’re overrated and don’t win the East, that lineup swings for the fences, and Myers is the type of pitcher that will give up homeruns. Same thing with Tomlin last couple of years. Don’t have strike-out stuff, don’t have overpowering speed, just throw strikes, and if its not down in the zone, the balls leaving the park.

  • mgbode

    he can be good in the pen. i’m fine with him in the pen longman role.

  • mgbode

    I said it the day we signed him and will repeat until Myers shows that it wasn’t. He wasn’t good in Houston, they were desperate for starting pitching yet moved him to the bullpen to try get anything out of him.

    Iwakuma signed a 2yr $7mil/year deal with M`s

    McCarthy signed a 2yr $7.75mil/year deal with Arizona

    Shaun Marcum signed for $4mil w/ Mets

    Kyle Lohse signed a 3yr deal for $11mil/year w/ the Brewers (+4th round pick if we grabbed him)

    others I’d take over Myers:

    Blanton signed a 2yr $7.5mil/year deal with Dodgers
    even Correia signed a 2yr $5mil/year deal with Twins
    and I’d also have taken Scott Baker for 1yr $5.5mil with Cubs

  • mgbode

    Zach Attack is up next, right? That’s a happy enough place :)

  • nj0

    Agreed. It’s the third game of the season. Let players plays.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If hindsight were 20-20 I’m sure Antonetti wouldn’t have acted so quickly on Myers but who could have imagined the rest of the signings. Time will tell but Myers debut was definitely a horror show.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Only way this happens is if he bombs even more then his debut and other starting potentials step up. I.E. McAllister pitches decently and Carrasco does well along with Kazmir being healthy enough to pitch. Otherwise I think your looking at last years version of Derek Lowe in Myers.

  • mgbode

    i’m no soothsayer, but i had that one pegged.

  • mgbode

    w/o the nice start to the season. that is my fear.

  • MrCleaveland

    The old saying goes, “You’re going to win 60 games no matter what, and you’re going to lose 60 games no matter what. It’s what happens in the other 40 that make the difference.”

    This is one of those 40 that we could have had but didn’t.

  • Harv 21

    No!! Antonetti’s second biggest mistake was keeping Zach on the roster after he got knocked around at the end of spring training. I kid you. There’s only one place you can go after a bad starter outing … Bauer. He’s fresh, exciting … even mystical! (In the limited sense stupid, cocky MLB players can be that). Bauer is the only legit happy place. Until, you know, he gets knocked around. Then I’d go with Carlos Carrasco, because of the name alliteration and potential riches/rags/riches storyline. Also cuz he sounds like a sauce you’d sprinkle on the rotation to spice it up.

  • Ritz

    Marcum is injured and has serious elbow concerns – other than him though I agree, the others would have been better deals and better pitchers.

  • http://twitter.com/GreatestHurley Jason Hurley

    Why isn’t it one of the 60 losses?

  • MrCleaveland

    Because it was very winnable. It was there for the taking.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    The Tribe could have easily lost the extra-inning game the other night so that was also one of the 40, I would think. We’re 1-1 in the 40.

  • MrCleaveland

    I wouldn’t argue against that.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    i’m more of a kingslayer myself.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lowe did go half a season your right.

  • DCTribeFan

    And then there was John Lannan who the Phillies signed for $3M. Good enough to be their #5 guy, which in Cleveland terms is a #3…lol. Course, the Phillies also signed Chad Durbin, so I guess the jury’s out on them anyway. But Lannan was sitting without a team at the winter meetings, long before they signed Myers. Seemed like a no-brainer.

  • mgbode

    whoa, whoa, whoa. hold on there. we already had a CC. definitely have to go Tabasco Carrasco on that one. Just hope we don’t get the mild version.

  • nj0

    What game isn’t winnable? They all start 0-0.

  • Harv 21

    If he’s mild I’d stay away from the minors and stay in-house: definitely want to go with Fat Albers. A little hey-hey-hey as entrance music. Over the course of a competitive series varying body type is every bit as important as varying the stuff they throw, arm angles and all that hoohah. Few offenses are talented enough to handle abrupt swings from ectomorph to endomorph. I’m working on some advanced stats – with BMI, cholesterol levels, mouth-breathing – that totally support this.

  • mgbode

    you better copyright hWAR now!

  • MrCleaveland

    Friday night’s game was not winnable. We couldn’t touch them. That was one of the 60 losses of destiny.

    So to recap, the Opener was one of the 60 inevitable wins, games two and three were among the 40 crooshal winnables, and the Rays game was one of the 60 inevitable losses.

    There’s no point in arguing with me. I’m not the one who came up with The Saying. I’m just saying that The Saying has powers far beyond those of mortal men. So just go with it.