8:12 PM – Much like Homer’s epic poetry, I’m making a habit of starting these recaps in medias res. Let us pretend that this is a literary gesture toward gravitas rather than a byproduct of a life that frequently intervenes.
Regardless of the cause, I feel that there is some good fortune involved here—good fortune for me, I mean—as I can just copy and paste snippets from Monday night’s recap. The fortune for the team hasn’t been nearly so hot. For instance, just as they did last night, the Royals have another strong pitching performance going while, just as he did last night, Carlos Santana continues to audition convincingly for a position change.
Ubaldo Jimenez has not been remotely sharp, but two more wild pitches past an inept Santana resulted in a two-run third inning for the Royals. The Indians haven’t been able to put together anything resembling a credible threat against Royals starter Ervin Santana, whose no-hitter against the 2011 Indians already seems to be hanging heavy.
So here we sit, heading to the fifth inning with the Tribe trailing 2-0. Muses of Musial: Sing to me of the slow slide of summer. Sing of the disaffection and dissolution of defeat. Sing of the North Shore, and the misery therein.
8:21 PM – Ubaldo sends the Royals down 1-2-3 in the fifth, and sits at 98 pitches. Underwood just pointed out that he’s averaging 18 pitches per inning so far this season. Here’s his rate compared to the MLB average over the last five years:
Pitches Per Inning
In non-charted language, Ubaldo went from being a relatively efficient pitcher to one of the most prodigal pitchers in the game. So we’ve got that going for us…
8:31 PM – Meanwhile, Ervin Santana is cruising: he sends the Tribe down in order in the bottom of the fifth. He’s at 65 pitches, or 13 per inning to continue our theme. Still 2-0 Royals. The malaise is tangible.
8:40 PM – After 114 pitches and only 17 outs, Ubaldo is done in the top of the sixth. Nick Hagadone on in relief.
Let me say something briefly in Nick Hagadone’s defense, as there’s been too much negativity already tonight. I kind of like Nick Hagadone. Yes, he’s had a really rough year in almost every respect: he’s walking too many guys, giving up too many home runs, and not striking out enough. Maybe worst of all, he looks to have lost some confidence, which could prevent him from overcoming these current struggles.
But let’s not forget that he’s exceptionally young and still very talented. He’s a lefty with mid-90s velo, a reasonable breaking ball, and a pedigree that would suggest some success. He needs to calm down out there, but remember that for his minor league career he’s struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings pitched and since 2011 has walked fewer than three. He’s harnessed his control before, and there’s no reason to think he can’t again. He’s also not had nearly the track record with the long ball that he’s exhibited in his 19 innings this season: for his MiLB career he’s at 0.5 HR/9, while over his last two MLB seasons (44 IP) he’s at 1.4. Some of this is just noise.
I can’t tell you that he’s going to be fine and come out the other end of this a good bullpen option. But I can tell you that 44 innings doesn’t mean a whole lot, especially if the underlying talent still looks to be lurking somewhere in there. And I think it does.
Hagadone gets out of the inning, and we’re heading to the bottom of the sixth, still 2-0 Royals.
8:53 PM – I HATE playing revisionist history games, especially when it comes to second-guessing managerial decisions.But this is kind of why I wanted to pinch-hit Stubbs for Johnny Mac in the ninth inning last night.
After a Raburn ground out to lead off the inning, Stubbs singles to center and then steals second easily. After a Bourn strikeout, Aviles rips a single to left and Stubbs comes around to score to make it a 2-1 game. That woulda come in handy last night. That’s all.
9:05 PM – Hagadone works through a scoreless seventh inning quicker than swift-footed Achilles. It’s getting late pretty early around here—stretch time.
9:16 PM – I’m tempted to write that the Indians “threatened to score” in the bottom of the seventh, but that would perhaps be hyperbolic. Yes, they got their lead-off runner on by way of a Carlos Santana walk, but Brantley, Reynolds and Chisenhall go meekly, as does the inning’s promise.
9:21 PM – You might infer from that last entry that the Indians are incapable of “manufacturing” runs—that they lack that je ne sais quoi required to make the key play at the key moment in a close game.
You would be wrong about that, you see, as they just manufactured a run for the Royals quite efficiently. With Cody Allen on in relief, Eric Hosmer hit a weak come-backer to the mound. Allen fields the ball cleanly, steps toward first and throws the ball to Ashtabula. By the time the Stubbs gets the ball back into the infield, Hosmer is on third. He scores easily on a subsequent Salvador Perez single to center.
Manuf*cturing runs. 3-1 Royals. The Indians have now scored four runs in their last 24 innings.
9:34 PM – If you’re an eternal optimist, then you are pleased that the Indians just scored. If you are…well…like me, then you are just further enraged by Cody Allen’s error from the previous inning.
Disirregardless, the Royals turned to flame-thrower Kelvin Herrera in the eighth, who walks Raburn and then gets Stubbs to ground out moving Raburn to second with one out. After painting a 101 mph pitch on the outside corner, Herrera throws a curveball that Michael Bourn shoots to left field, scoring Raburn. Aviles follows with a line drive single to left and Herrera is gone. Lefty Tim Collins coming on to face Kipnis.
9:38 PM – The optimists win!! I knew it all along! Kipnis drops a tailing blooper into shallow left that scores Bourn to tie the game. Collins follows by intentionally walking Carlos Santana to load the bases with one out. Brantley coming up in a big spot, tied at 3.
9:41 PM – Brantley goes down in the count 1-2, but then laces a weak liner to right that is somehow deep enough to score Aviles from third. The Wahoos go up 4-3 with two outs and Mark Reynolds coming up.
9:42 PM – Reynolds gonna Reynolds. He strikes out on three pitches. Vinnie should be coming in for the save to face David Lough, Mike Moustakas, and Anything-You-Need-Chris-Getz .
I would be remiss not to mention that Chris Perez had what was scheduled to be his last rehab outing in Akron tonight. He struck out two batters in one inning pitched. Some other stuff happened too.
9:46 PM – Ain’t nothing easy. Lough singles to center to lead off the inning. Tying run aboard.
9:49 PM – After going to 3-0 on Moustakas, Pestano fights all the way back to a full count, but then Moustakas lines a single to right. First and second, nobody out. Somebody get me a dog, pronto.
9:51 PM – Vinnie gets ahead of Anything-You-Need-Chris-Getz with two weak bunt attempts and then strikes him out with a slider in the dirt. One out, and finally Vinnie gets to face a right handed batter in Alcides Escobar.
9:54 PM – Woah. So what happened was….
Escobar drills the ball to right field, Stubbs plays it on one hop and throws home. It appears very much that Lough will have no trouble scoring from second, but his third base coach holds him up, which seems only to confuse him, as he starts trotting home instead of, you know, actually retreating to third or charging ahead full-speed. This results in a run-down that leaves Lough on third, Escobar on second and Moustakas out (it’s kind of a long story). Two down, and the Pestano is intentionally walking Alex Gordon to get to Eric Hosmer. Still–inexplicably–4-3 Indians.
9:59 PM – Hosmer grounds out to first and somehow, despite their best efforts, the Indians win this one 4-3.
Perhaps this game was more Homeric than I originally gave it credit for. It felt longer than it really was, with too many different dead-end plotlines and false starts for my taste. Sure, in the end there’s a happy ending, but you end up losing some respect for the protagonist along the way.
The good news is that tomorrow evening the Indians will be going for their third straight series win. They sit in second place, 4.5 games back of the Tigers, and they have their ace taking the mound. Things could be worse, Telemachus: it’s time to slay the Royal suitors.
*A few words on the titular gesture here. Of course there is the obvious reference to the way the Indians won this game, despite their insistence on pissing it away like an undergrad hopped up on so much Miller High Life and No-Doze–they simply did not deserve to win.
But we’ve cited the “Deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it” line several times in the past, and we’ve mentioned that it appears both in Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” as well as David Simon’s “The Wire”, in fairly similar narrative fashion. I mention “The Wire” here only to make a point that otherwise didn’t fit in the recap, but that nevertheless my wife asked to be included: namely, that Carlos Santana looks like Snoop, the street-wise, female drug dealer and enforcer of the later seasons who delivers the “deserve” line upon killing the leader of a rival drug-ring at the behest of her superior.
Furthermore, we should at least point out that Homer does not, in fact, deserve to have his epic poetry sullied by my associating it with this crummy game-recap. Life is unfair though, and if anyone should know, it would probably be a dead blind guy.