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Clearing the Bases: Game #14 - Indians 1, A's 5

Clearing the Bases: Game #14 - Indians 1, A's 5
Travis Hafner (photo: Keith Allison)
April 23, 2012
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The Cleveland Indians entered the game having gone 7-1 to start the year off on the road. While you can never shrug off a 7-1 road record, you do have to remember that this one did come with the asterisk of being against the Royals, the Mariners and the A’s, who have a hard time putting up a competitive club if you combined them all together. That said, you have to feel happy with how the Indians are playing entering their final game of the road trip. The Indians are also coming into the game tenth in batting average, third in runs and first in walks. It’s like the Grady Sizemore of offenses…except actually healthy…so there’s that.

Justin Masterson takes the hill today after getting smashed in his last outing on Tuesday that saw him get jacked for eight runs, seven hits and four walks in a grand total of 3 2/3 innings. Go figure, the Indians rallied to win the game 9-8, to bail him out.

What went right:

  • Choo launched a two-out double to the extended wall in the first inning, right under the 388 foot sign in left-center. He really went with the pitch, and nearly knocked it out of the park. He’s been killing the ball of late, going 4-for-10 coming into this game, and with this hit, now has three doubles in his last three as well. With Hafner coming up, this could be the start of another two-out rally.
  • Here comes Hafner, and there goes another launched shot to the power alley in right-center that hit off the top of the extended fence in right center, just to the right of the 388 foot marker, driving in Choo. The top of the order is really playing well, with Brantley, Kipnis, Choo and Hafner all having fantastic games on the trip. It makes you savor what could happen if they put it all together. 1-0, Indians
  • The Indians are hitting .299, and have driven in 28 runs with two-outs on the road trip. Not hard to figure out what they are good at, at least a few less-than-contenders. It will be interesting to see what they can do against the Angels when they return to the Jake (sorry Prog fans, it’s still the Jake to me).
  • Masterson got off to a nice little start, with a 1-2-3 inning that coulda been more messy. He started off 3-2 on Meeks before inducing a routine grounder to Kotchman. Made a fantastic fielding play for out #2, that could have been a single, the buckled down on Josh Reddick, jumping ahead of him 0-2, before tapping back to Masterson, who gunned him down at first. Nice rebound for the righty, but signs that he might be struggling a bit with his stuff. All three batters had a chance to get on base.
  • Go figure…Jack Hannahan draws a walk. You get a feeling that this isn’t the only time I’ll be talking about walks today. And that Jack Hannahan just keeps finding a way to keep Chisenhall at Columbus.
  • Masterson struck out the last two batters in the second inning, with the pesky Cespedis on base, and he’s clearly back to the Masterson we saw prior to last Tuesday. He’s completely manipulating the A’s offense, moving his pitches in and out, and really forcing them into uncomfortable swings.
  • Hello Rafael Perez, and welcome to pitching well! That was a nice sixth inning, getting a ground out, a K and a fly out in relief of Masterson. Maybe he can go another inning. He does, and gets two K’s and a ground out, surrounding a Ka’aihue double. I’ll take this Perez any day of the week.
  • One pitch and one out for Hagadone. This kid better stay up, or I’m going to go absolutely insane. Tony Sipp almost needs to get sent down to teach him a lesson. I’ve always like him, but the metrics haven’t been kind to him recently, and he’s just not getting the job done. Hagadone is the better option, period…and as I say that, he give up a laser up the middle.

What went wrong:

  • It’s hard to get on Jack Hannahan with the season that he’s having, but he got absolutely roasted on second base. You concede an idiotic move like this from Hannahan because of his stellar play so far this year, but you can’t run yourself out of an inning. Of course, with two outs, it may be a blessing in disguise. Oh Yeah, Lou Marson is up, and hit a weak grounder to short. Oh joy.
  • Yeonis Cespedis has a bunch of special tools as a ballplayer. He clearly has good power, and has really nice speed to go along with it. While Donald made a nice play at short to get the ball, he didn’t have a chance to make that play on the speedy centerfielder for Oakland. I won’t miss him when we leave. Of course, as I say that Cespedes gets a great jump on Masterson and Marson, and steals a base. Man, we shoulda signed this guy for the $36 million. Really has the stuff to be a star.
  • The Indians are burned by their own magic, with Masterson giving up a two-out walk in the third inning, followed by a two-out double by Cliff Pennington to drive in Jemile Weeks. Masterson gets out of the inning after another walk and a double steal, but he seems to be struggling to find the zone now. I hope it’s not trouble going forward, but this is third inning Masterson is now pitching similar to the way Masterson pitched on Tuesday night. 1-1
  • I just despise this line-up, with Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Aaron Cunningham and Felipe Lopez. It’s just putrid. I know Donald needs to be in the line-up with Cabrera out, but you want to talk about an offensive hole. Imagine the day when Hannahan comes down to earth. Will Acta really put in a lineup that has the 5-9 hitters as Lopez, Hannahan, Donald, Cunningham and Marson? I don’t know that we have a minor league lineup that bad.
  • Masterson comes out and gives up a lead-off walk in the fourth inning. I’m concerned. He needs to get it together before the A’s completely figure him out. You just can give up a lead-off walk…or guys like Seth Smith will hit a home run on a ball right down the middle, driving in two runs. Oh joy.  3-1, Oakland Well, Masterson got out of the inning on three pop-ups, but not before walking two more.
  • Masterson got the first two out in the fifth, then an infield single was followed up with another walk, and another single by Kurt Suzuki, scoring Kila Ka’aihue. 4-1, Oakland Masterson got through the inning, but boy did he struggle today.
  • Chripes, Donald goes deep at short for a ground ball off Hagadone and makes the throw to Jose Lopez, who’s playing first. The throw was low and to the right, and Lopez bobbled it all over the place, while Sogard motored for home. It was a hard play for Donald, and he didn’t really have a chance to get Pennington out at first, so you can start there, but Lopez had no clue what he was doing at first. Sogard would have been out by five feet. Donald and Lopez blew that one. There was no error on the play. Wow. Bad throw from short, and a bad play from Lopez. Hagadone gives up a run, and I’m totally fed up with this freakin’ line-up. If I hear Lopez or Donald or Cunningham again, I may lose my mind.

The random notes at the end:

The Indians almost had no chance today. Brantley, Kipnis, Choo and Hafner were the  normals at the top of the line-up, but past them was the Indians vortex from hell (minus Hannahan for now). Kipnis, Choo and Hafner all had doubles, while Hannahan had a single. Hafner, Kipnis, Hannahan and Marson had walks (Hafner and Marson had two each). So, just so you understand what I’m saying here, The non-vortex went 4-for-16, with four walks and two strikeouts. The vortex went 0-for-12, with two walks and three K’s. The normals and Hannahan left six on base, while the vortex left ten. No, the normals weren’t stellar, but had any other starter been in the game, perhaps the Indians could have done something with the six walks. The Indians also had five innings in which they led off with a walk. Not one of those runners scored. Just plain ugly. While I’m not ready to say I’m uber-concerned about Justin Masterson, you do have to wonder where this drop-off is. He needs to right the ship before May, or the Indians could be struggling when the top teams start appearing on the schedule. Guess what, Travis Hafner is raking...in case you didn't notice Hey yo, the Indians went 7-2 on the road trip, and guess what, they didn’t lose anything today as the rest of the Central lost as well. Here come the Angels…

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

Seth
April 23, 2012 - 1:05 PM EDT
Biggest what went wrong is Masterson. His velocity is down significantly from last year, about 3 mph. He was topping out at 93 yesterday, while last year he would always hit 95-96 a few times. Hopefully it's a hangover from the innings jump last year and he's got a bit of a dead arm, and it will come back as the season goes on. Right now, he's topping out at what his average velocity was last year ... sort of like Ubaldo

The official scorer seemed to not liking handing out errors. The most egregious was when they gave Kila a single when he hit a groundball to Kipnis that Kipnis misfired on. He would've had him by two steps at first if his throw were on target. Asdrubal

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