Indians 4, Orioles 3: On the Verge of Losing It

Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez8:06 PM – We pick this one up in the bottom of the fourth, because that’s what time my daughter goes to sleep now.  She usually wakes up in the thirteenth inning or so, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Anyway, the game is scoreless, as both Ubaldo and the Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman have looked sharp so far.

8:12 PM – After Kipnis and Santana draw back-to-back walks to lead off the inning, Michael Brantley drops a sacrifice bunt to move them over.  Normally, I HATE this play.  It’s early in the game and you’ve got the middle of your lineup coming up.  But with the way this offense has been stumbling around these days?  I guess I can live with it.  Still, it seems either remarkably optimistic or incredibly sad to be playing for one run in the fourth inning.  Equal parts optimism and sadness….yep, THAT’S US!!

8:18 PM – And one run is exactly what they get.  Cabrera lifts a sacrifice fly to score Kipnis, but after an intentional walk to Kubel, Gomes goes down swinging to end the inning.

8:25 PM – Ubaldo cruises through the top of the fifth. He’s allowed three hits, struck out four and (most importantly) hasn’t walked a batter.

His impending free agency is going to be FASCINATING to watch.  I think I could make a pretty compelling case that: (1) he’s been the worst pitcher in baseball over the last three years—a smoldering wreck of a dumpster fire, and (2) he should get between $7 and $10 million AAV on a multi-year deal. I tend to think that either way, the Indians will be staying away from Ubaldo given their newfound starting pitching depth, but I’ll still be mighty curious as to how the market will value a guy who never gets hurt, throws in the mid-90s, and appears to have Nuke LaLoosh-esque control of his fastball.

8:48 PM – Yesterday I wrote my annual I’m-giving-up-on-the-Indians-because-everything-is-hopeless-and-we’re-all-gonna-die post. It’s become quite the tradition for me.  Anyway, buried in that piece I talked about how the Indians’ rotation has been surprisingly effective this season—that the pitching (and defense) has been responsible for 75% of team’s improvement over their embarrassing 2012 campaign—an improvement of nearly 200 runs that has been powered largely by the team’s ability to prevent opponents from scoring.

This should be somewhat surprising to us. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs combined have contributed fewer Wins+ for the 2013 Indians than Kazmir, Kluber and McAllister.  We got the last three guys for next to nothing, and the first four cost about $34 million this year.

Ubaldo Jimenez is now through six scoreless innings and the Indians are still ahead 1-0.  Up is down. Dogs walking people.

8:53 PM – I have an ongoing debate with myself as to whether it’s possible for a player to have repeatedly been identified by multiple observers as “under-rated” or “under-appreciated”. On the one hand, simply by being lauded for under-appreciated skills, isn’t the player being properly appreciated? On the other hand, people still just don’t seem to realize how important Carlos Santana is to this offense.

To wit, Santana leads off the bottom of the sixth with his second walk of the evening, and in so doing raises his OBP over .370 for the season.  For reference, the other Cleveland Indians who’ve had a season of at least  500 plate appearances and better than a .370 OBP since 2003 are: Milton Bradley, Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, and Shin-Soo Choo.  Do we realize that Santana is that type of hitter yet? I’m not always so sure.

9:06 PM – I’m not sure if that counts as an offensive explosion, but the Indians managed to scratch across three runs and knock Tillman out of the game.

After Santana’s walk, Brantley doubles down the left field line, leaving runners at second and third. Asdrubal pops a sac fly to center to score Santana and move Brantley to third.  Kubel receives an intentional walk (let’s see how that plays out) and gets immediately lifted for pinch runner and whitest-guy-on-the-team-other-than-Joe-Smith Matt Carson.  Yan Gomes then drills a double to left scoring both Brantley and Carson.  Good guys up 4-0, heading to the seventh.

9:20 PM – Interestingly, Ubaldo’s night is done after six innings pitched and only 90 pitches.  Perhaps this is the responsible move, given the abundance of available bullpen arms in the wake of the roster expansions.  Disirregardless, Cody Allen comes on for the seventh and retires the side on flyballs, despite a walk to J.J. Hardy.

9:37 PM – After the Indians go in order in the bottom of the seventh, Joe Smith comes on for the eighth to face Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters.

Now, I think I’ve made myself pretty clear on how I feel about Joe Smith: he’s a fine guy with a perfectly unobjectionable and generic name, but he should not be brought in to face left handed batters. Like, EVER.

For his career, Smith has limited right handed batters to a .606 OPS against, while lefties have put up a .726 line.  That 120 points of OPS is effectively the difference between Matt LaPorta’s career and Carlos Santana’s.  The ONLY reason to let Joe Smith face left handed batters in a close game is if your left-handed options are so terrible, so ridiculously awful that [remembers something called a Blake Wood, douses self in gasoline, lights match…]

Needless to say, Smith walks Chris Davis to lead off the inning and I pour myself some scotch.  Luckily, Jones and Wieters both strike out and Betemit flies out to left.  Still 4-0 Indians, heading to the bottom of the eighth.

9:50 PM – Perez is on for non-save situation, which means my buddy Kirk is furiously sweating it out.

9:53 PM – Perhaps Kirk is on to something. Perez lets up back-to-back singles to start the ninth, and all of a sudden the tying run is in the on-deck circle with nobody out.  QUICK, BRING IN THE CLOSER!! IT’S A SAVE SITUATION!

9:54 PM – Welp.  Perez just let up a three-run homer to Nate McLouth and it’s a 4-3 game that feels like it’s about to slip away.  Maybe Perez needs to feel the tension of a close game before he can get locked in or maybe he likes the pressure of competGOOD GOD JUST NON-TENDER HIM NEXT SEASON BECAUSE IT’S RIDICULOUS TO DEDICATE ONE-SEVENTH OF YOUR PAYROLL TO A HAIRY MASCOT WHO HATES YOUR TEAM AND YOUR CITY AND IS A MASTER SABOTEUR MASQUERADING AS A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY POT SMOKING DOG.

OK. I’m better now.

9:58 PM –Chris Perez has no shame.  He manages to strike out Brian Roberts and Manny Machado, pumping his fist in celebration after each.  This man has giant, brass balls.

10:00 PM – Before I even have time to worry about the matchup, Chris Davis hits a laser directly into the teeth of the shift where Jason Kipnis is waiting. BALLGAME.

This one had the possibility of going REALLY badly there at the end.  The relationship between the city and this team has already become so corrosive, and if Perez—who’s been particularly unhelpful in that relationship—had blown this one I wonder if the team wouldn’t have had five more years of attendance problems ahead of them.

But somehow, we’re left talking about a win and a strong Ubaldo Jimenez performance instead.  Despite losing six of their last eight games, the Indians still sit only three games out of the Wild Card as of this writing, and still have a pennant pulse.  As Terry Francona says, the most important game from here on out will always be the next one.  Tomorrow’s (today’s) series finale against Baltimore is the first step.  It’s a Zach-Attack, with Britton facing off against McAllister at 7:05 EST.  Every time I’m out….

  • Guy Noir

    You can list as many stats about Santana as you want, I’ve seen him play. The guy isn’t good.

  • JNeids

    Welp, not sure how Jon can argue with that, no matter how many stats and how much logic he brings to the table. Better luck next time, Jon.

  • WFNY_DP

    I think my favorite “finally they kind of get a break” moment was when Perez was facing Davis, and drilled him on the back shin. Tying run on base, right? Nope, Davis half-swung and the Indians got the call.

    I’m still paying attention, but as I noted during the ninth on Twitter last night, if they’d blown that lead, they’d have been completely dead to me until March.

  • WFNY_DP

    Lawyer’d.

  • Harv 21

    I would like the author/statmaster to research how many screaming line drive outs per total outs (sldo/to) Perez has given up this year.

    Do not tell me this is irrelevant and an aestheitic rather than a blahblahblah. It is totally relevant as to whether I can bear to watch the doobie brother and, by extension, the team.

  • boomhauertjs

    This:

    GOOD GOD JUST NON-TENDER HIM NEXT SEASON BECAUSE IT’S RIDICULOUS TO DEDICATE ONE-SEVENTH OF YOUR PAYROLL TO A HAIRY MASCOT WHO HATES YOUR TEAM AND YOUR CITY AND IS A MASTER SABOTEUR MASQUERADING AS A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY POT SMOKING DOG.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    I still really like Baltimore’s chances at snagging the second Wild Card. That’s an excellent squad and I’m shocked we have basically the same record as them. Something is off?

    Anyways, I had to laugh at the attendance last night but what does the front office expect? The Front Office doesn’t show up in July or August so the fans don’t show up in September. Seems fair to me.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    Also, can we move Michael Bourn down in the lineup … to like … 10th?

  • mgbode

    it’s called starting pitching. using pure ERA as that is what matters to what actually happened this season and not what should have happened or might happen in the future (which is what FIP is good to use):

    going by most IP matching up starters:

    Masterson (189IP, 3.52ERA) vs. Tillman (172IP, 3.71ERA)
    Jiminez (147,3.79) vs. M.Gonzalez (140,4.11)
    Kazmir (130, 4.36) vs. Hammel (123, 5.2)
    Kluber (122, 3.54) vs. WY Chen (109,3.87)
    McAllister (108,3.81) vs. Feldman (60, 4.18)

    others for Cleve: Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer, Myers (only Danny good)

    others for Balt: Garcia, Norris, Britton, Gausman all terrible

    That is a pretty significant advantage at each SP rotation spot + using them more often than dipping to the random guys + at least having one of those random guys show up (Salazar).

    The O`s have a ton of youth and may figure things out and be great long-term, but their pitching hasn’t been very good this year.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    Bud Norris is terrible? Did you watch the game on Monday?

  • nj0

    Back in April when attendance was terrible, I said that Clevelanders will find any excuse for not showing up to games. Here we are fighting for a playoff spot in September and we get – “The Front Office doesn’t show up in July or August so the fans don’t show up in September.” Thanks. I’ll add that to the list along with the million other excuses Clevelanders use for not supporting the team.

  • TSR3000

    Chill out We-Bay. Bourn is our lead off hitter for better or worse.

  • nj0

    LOL. Stop the world, I want to get off.

  • ThePhoenix

    So, B-R has defined 37 PAs for Perez as ending in ‘Line Drive’, 19 have fallen for hits. That would leave 18 as potential “screaming line drive outs”. Extrapolate as you will.

  • Harv 21

    You are the man. I really need a chart with symbols, hump back liners have a whale heading the column, screamers with an Edvard Munch painting.

  • mgbode

    ERA over 4 for both Baltimore (in 7 starts) & for the season. I don’t judge a pitcher based on 1 game. He would be our 6th pitcher. 5th if Salazar couldn’t hold up for the season.

  • mgbode

    also, I find it funny that you go to a mediocre pitcher that has only pitched 40IP as your counter-argument.

    Baltimore has 2 starting pitchers with ERA’s under 4 this season accounting for 281 IP.

    Cleveland has 5 starting pitchers with ERA’s under 4 this season accounting for 600IP.

    Advantage Indians.

    ========================

    I didn’t even get to mention that the Indians’ OPS+ (105) for their corps starting 9 is actually higher than the Orioles’ OPS+ (102).

    Again, Baltimore has more youth and upside long-term. I would rather have their team than ours moving forward. But, that has little to do with the 2013 season.

  • woofersus

    Well we all know that stats are made-up numbers unrelated to a player’s performance. Good call ignoring all those.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Really, again, honestly?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This is like driving by an accident and watching seriously people the Indians won for God’s sake.

    On the bright side anyone else watch the mighty BoSox knock off Mad Max and the Tigers 2-1? We want Mo-Lester baby!

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    On what planet is our lineup anywhere comparable to theirs right now? Position-for-position, other than Jason Kipnis at second base, who do you take? It’s laughable. Baltimore will absolutely finish ahead of us in the standings this year. There is zero doubt about that.

  • mgbode

    on the planet that you can go to baseball-reference and look at the adjusted OPS+ and see that ours is higher.

    click on the OPS+ column and it will sort the 9 main players and give you a full team total at the bottom of the table (guys like Gomes and Raburn give the Indians a boost because Francona has used them wisely to their strengths):

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/2013.shtml

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CLE/2013.shtml

    again, they have more upside. but, this season, we have performed better (not lately, mind you but over the full season).

  • nj0

    Yes. Any time I come across people spouting this nonsense, I’m going to say something. The ridiculousness needs to be addressed.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    OMG please ‘bode stop the madness! Kipnis and Santana have a whopping 17 homeruns apiece for God’s sake. This a year after that garbage pale of a lineup was put out there.

  • mgbode

    HRs are not the only measure of an offense.

    #true_story

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If you could do something about either i.e. the people spouting nonsense or the Indians not selling tickets then sure, fine, have at it but you can’t do anything about either. I’d like the hair in my ears and nose to be back on my head, it ain’t happening, except it and move on there are plenty of other subjects when it comes to sports in this town. Just a suggestion not an order I can tell you are heated on this subject.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I still like Bourn. He’s having a down year and really under utilizing his speed but nothing I can do.

  • nj0

    Not heated, just annoyed. I guess what really bothers me is that I assume that bringing facts and evidence to bear would win the day, but in this case (as in many) there’s just no reasoning with people.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Absolutely but they sure as hell make things easier! Which reminds me where’s Steven I’d like to ask him how Soriano’s doing with the Yankees again?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Eh that’s life we’re just talking sports imagine if this was something more important how bad it’d be? People seem to be in bad moods today and I don’t know why I mean the Indians finally won and the NFL kicks off tomorrow.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    Please tell me which position player on the Indians you’d take over that same position player on the Orioles.

    1. Jason Kipnis
    2. ?
    3. ??

  • nj0

    debating indians attendance >>>> debating war in syria

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If Kipnis could play SS I’d take him in Boston. Well there’s LF too.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Now that’s some real world sh!t but I have to mind my Ps and Qs because I respect and admire anyone who has served the United States of America. That being said I don’t consider the Syrian drama a war!

  • mgbode

    at the plate and for this season only:

    For Indians:
    2B: Kipnis by a ton over Roberts/Flaherty
    C: Santana by a ton over Wieters
    RF: Stubbs has been a bit better than Markakis

    Even:
    LF: Brantley plays to a draw with McClouth

    For Orioles:
    1B: Chris Davis by a ton over Swisher
    CF: A.Jones by a ton over Bourn
    3B: Machado comfortably over Aviles/Chisenhall
    SS: Hardy has been a little better than Asdrubal

    Baltimore wins straight up comparisons 4-3-1, but then you factor in the full depth of the roster (guys like Gomes/Raburn) and we squeak ahead once you factor in the park effects.

    It’s not by a lot on the hitting side (unlike on the pitching side), but yeah, the numbers are not lying here.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    JJ Hardy line 2, Manny Machado line 3.

    I could buy what you were selling although Swisher couldn’t carry Davis jock which more then makes up for Santana verse Wieters but you lost me big time with Hardy verse Cabrera. Machado in HS was better then Chisenhall and Aviles combined now.

  • mgbode

    So, you agree with me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    After reviewing the numbers I agreed more then I disagreed outside of Hardy and Machado. Also Markakis is having the worst year of his career and I’d still take him over Stubbs. The Indians bench, Gomes-Aviles-Raburn, is definitely better then the Orioles. The Orioles bullpen however is definitely better then the Indians.

    When all is said and done if you check the standings they show how close the Orioles and Indians are to each other.
    That being said the Indians need to find legitimate power/run producers for either or both RF and 3B. I take a shot at Nelson Cruz this winter and hope that maybe his PED suspension lowers his price enough or scares away other possible suitors. Yes I’m dreaming. Then I try to move Cabrera. St. Louis I’m looking at you. Straight up Cabrera for Matt Adams. Adams goes to 1B, Swisher to RF, Santana to DH, Gomes to C and we look for a real life 3B.

  • mgbode

    the only one you disagreed with then is Stubbs/Markakis. Stubbs ends up higher on OPS+ w/ park effects and his speed helps out too. anyways, yes, the O`s and Indians have been close this season.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hardy and Machado the Markakis/Stubbs is close enough to not disagree.

  • nj0

    True. Not yet.

  • Kildawg

    I’d have Swisher at 1B with Chris Davis DHing; plus Brantley in LF over McLouth.