Second Thoughts: Game #23 - Indians 7, White Sox 5
|W: J. Masterson (1-2) L: J. Danks (2-4)|
What Went Right
- Justin Masterson looked sharp on Thursday night. He was literally inches from throwing a shutout. He threw 96 pitches, with 53 for strikes. He relied heavily on his sinker of course, but also went to a very effective slider multiple times.
- Very effective is putting it mildly. Masterson’s slider was nasty and when you couple the right-hand break of his sinker with the left-hand break of his slider (plus the roughly 10 mph difference) you have a very effective combination when he can limit his walks.
- Jason Kipnis had an excellent night at the plate, going 2-3 at the plate with 2 runs and 4 RBI, including a 3-run homerun in the 7th and a triple in the 3rd.
- Asdrubal Cabrera and Jack Hannahan both had nice games, as well. Cabrera and Hannahan both look like they are comfortable at the plate and not trying to do too much, frequently going the other way with the ball and taking what they are being given, unlike others (see Shelley Duncan, What Went Wrong, Offense).
- Casey Kotchman actually had a really good night at the plate with two singles and an RBI. Although the STO announcers described his RBI single as “banged up the middle” it was about the slowest ball through the middle that I’ve seen in a while, but I’ll take it.
- Johnny Damon kick-started the Indians third inning with a leadoff double. Although some of his at-bats were impatient, that double showed that his bat speed and classic slingshot swing are still there.
- Indians were 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position and notched four RBI with two outs (1 from Kotchman and 3 from Kipnis). The great hitting with two outs continues; I hate to think about our offense when those hits stop, but that’s for another day, I guess.
- Kotchman was 0-14 with runners in scoring position going into last night’s game. Now he’s 1-15, so for today, it’s in the “What Went Right” column. Stay tuned.
- Gift runs: John Danks made a couple bad plays that helped the Indians out last night and Alejandro De Aza looked like a high school outfielder getting all turned around on Kipnis’ triple. Danks for the extra run, boys.
- The Bullpen Mafia had it going once again, allowing just three hits in 3.2 innings.
- Sipp came in with two on in the 7th to get Adam Dunn after falling behind 3-1. It’s been interesting to see Manny Acta’s reliance on Sipp grow , and Sipp respond after the injury to Raffy Perez.
- Joe Smith came on to face Paul Konerko and had him looking on strike three at least once, but didn’t get the call. He responded and got A.J. Pierzynski to pop out and pitched another clean inning after that.
- After Smith made Konerko look foolish with a slider, it appeared as though Konerko asked for the ball to be thrown out. Sorry, Paul, but that is just his slider. Deal with it.
What Went Wrong
The Starting Pitching
- Masterson was great in his 6 and 1/3 innings. He was pulled with two runners on and Adam Dunn up in the 7th. Some may argue that Masterson should have been allowed to try and get Dunn, but as he proved in the 9th against Dan Wheeler, he can shorten a lead with one swing. Pulling Masterson for Sipp was the right thing to do.
- Masterson was inches from a shutout. With two outs in the 5th, Masterson was oh so close to fielding that comebacker cleanly and a bad bounce let two of his three runs score. Then, in the bottom of the 6th, Michael Brantley just missed throwing out Pierzsynski after a nice swipe tag attempt by Santana at home.
- When Danks was struggling early, the Indians were being patient and waiting for a pitch they could handle, but it was no coincidence that when Danks started to find his groove in the middle innings the Tribe was being impatient, even allowing Danks to register a five-pitch inning at one point. This offense is built around on-base percentage, which means patience is key, swinging at the first pitch hurts this club.
- Shin-Soo Choo continues to struggle at the plate, going 0-3 with a strikeout and a walk. Danks was fooling Choo with his curve often. In one at-bat, Choo never swung and looked fooled by every breaking ball Danks threw.
- Kotchman had two singles, but goodness some of his other swings were awful. Sadly, he looked better than Choo last night.
- Shelley Duncan’s struggles continue, when every other Indian was trying (and often succeeding) to take John Danks the other way, he was still trying to pull every pitch.
- Can’t blame Manny Acta for trying to squeak an inning out of Dan Wheeler and give Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez a break. Too bad Wheeler couldn’t get it done. I get the feeling that Dan Wheeler has the shortest leash in that bullpen. The look on Wheeler’s face in the dugout after he got pulled seemed to confirm this.
Who Can Sleep Well Tonight – Justin Masterson 6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, first win of 2012
Who Wants Another Chance – Dan Wheeler 0.2 IP, 2R, 1 HR allowed, leash shortened
Who Needs an Icepack – Home plate umpire Eric Cooper after being drilled by a Masterson pitch in the hand
The game started late after a 20 minute “cloud delay” … The rain and lightning finally materialized around the end of the 8thinning . . . Smith needed a double play ball in the 8th and he got one, the rare 8-3 double play after Brantley caught Gordon Beckham off and running with only one out in the 8th. . . White Sox reliever Nate Jones hit 100 MPH at least once in the 8thinning . . . Masterson’s velocity looked pretty good last night, touching 96 a few times and hovering around 94 most of the night although it started to fall as he approached 100 pitches.
By the way, I really like the Damon-Kipnis combo at the top. Damon is not what he once was, but he is a professional hitter and is going to see pitches and put up quality at bats. He really helps lengthen the lineup. Choo is a disaster. I think they are going to have to find a legit RH bat to plug into the 6th spot in the lineup (Choo 7th). Would really help balance the lineup better. I'm sorry, but Duncan is just not the guy to be hitting anywhere in the top 6-7 in the lineup.
I still stand by my statement though that he got too hittable, had poor control ( though everyone was getting squeezed vs Konerko last night) and shouldn't have been brought out for the 9th.
At least the Tribe is starting to hit with 13 runs in the last two games against a good pitching staff.