Second Thoughts Game #3: Blue Jays 10, Indians 8
Brett Myers' struggles doom Cleveland in back-and-forth game
Considering it’s been almost 50 years now since the invention of Astroturf, is it asking too much to expect the fake grass on a Major League baseball field to look better than the frayed, rumpled greens of an abandoned, rain-soaked putt-putt course? Apparently it is. So long, Skydome. See you next year, I guess.
As for the game itself, the Indians did indeed fall short of the sweep and their first 3-0 start since 1998, as the repeated comeback attempts of a relentless Cleveland line-up proved no match for the season debuts of Brett Myers and Cody Allen. Hard to say any questions were pointedly answered at this stage, but unlike the deceivingly stress-free victories that preceded it, Game #3 may have helped establish the bi-polar dynamic that could easily define this Tribe season in the long run.
! vs ?
Basically--with all due respect to the Blue Jays and their own supposedly relevant aspirations--this was a ballgame written, directed, and produced specifically with the conflicted 2013 Cleveland Indians fan in mind. In the span of three hours, we finally had the opportunity to see a 1-on-1 showdown between the two primary schools of thought surrounding this team since they first reported to Goodyear.
In the blue corner: Our boundless optimism for the new, balanced offense—highlighted in this game by a combined six hits from the free agent crop of Michael Bourn (2-4), Nick Swisher (2-3, RBI), and Mark Reynolds (2-5, HR, 2 RBI), plus three more from the suddenly free-wheelin’ Carlos Santana (3-5, HR, 2 RBI).
In the red corner: Our paralyzing fear over a Frankenstein’s Monster sort of pitching staff constructed almost entirely from old scrap, head cases, and whatever Scott Kazmir qualifies as.
These manic alternations of hope and doubt really kicked into gear between the fourth and sixth innings of Game #3, as the Indians rallied to tie the game at 3-3… only for Brett Myers to surrender a 3-run bomb to Edwin Encarnacion… only for the Indians to battle right back and tie the game AGAIN… only for Myers to immediately serve up a second gopher ball to J.P. Arencibia and make his exit for the evening—5 IP, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 HR, ZERO STRIKEOUTS.
Question Mark of the Day: Brett Myers
Proving that Spring Training statistics really can indicate something on occasion, 32-year-old Brett Myers was the poster boy for Team Question Mark in this game, as he has been for the past couple weeks heading into the season. If the guy didn’t pull a neck muscle watching line drives whistle around the dome all night, he likely did so from repeatedly shaking his head in frustration-- as he could be seen doing for a disturbing portion of the evening.
In fact, that was the image that disturbed me more than any of the four homers Myers coughed up (the most he’s allowed in a game since June of 2011). A veteran, successful Major League pitcher should not be displaying the same facial expression as a confused elderly man trying to locate his car in a Giant Eagle parking lot.
Will Myers be this year’s Derek Lowe, as many are already surmising? Trevor Bauer probably wouldn’t mind that. But in the meantime, we’re going to keep things at a yellow alert and save the red for May or June. After all, the ever reliable Mark Buehrle was basically every bit as bad as Myers in this game.
Exclamation Point of the Day: Carlos Santana
In the same way it’s a tad premature to hang Brett Myers from the proverbial waiver wire, it’s probably also a little early to say that Carlos Santana will blossom in a line-up that allows him to be a complementary component, rather than a centerpiece. So far, so good, though. While we were all distracted with the shiny new toys that Grandpa Dolan bought us over the winter, perhaps our old friend the Axeman—a few days shy of turning 27—was quietly preparing himself for that long awaited “next step.” No longer hitting clean-up or bouncing back and forth between first base and catcher, a wiser, more relaxed Santana could wind up proving a bigger upgrade than the various free agents batting around him.
Anyway, a nice series win to start the season. Now it’s off to Tampa for our final three artificial turf games of the entire season. Nice to have that out of the way, although nothing says “baseball” like drab carpeting and 4,000 snoring Floridians.
I was thinking the same thing about Myers not having much worse results than Buehrle, so you can't read too much into it, but I didn't expect much from Myers, and to see him pitch even worse than my slight expectations does not make me feel any happier about the Brett Myers acquisition. The fact that he managed a FIP even higher than the 12.60 ERA is impressive.