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Second Thoughts: Game #82 - Rays 1, Indians 3

Second Thoughts: Game #82 - Rays 1, Indians 3
July 6, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
TB 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 1
CLE 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 3 7 0
W: Tomlin (5-5) L: Hellickson (4-5) S: Perez (24)

Pre-Game Notes

- It’s been an interesting flip of the calendar from June to July for the Indians thus far.  The Indians ended June in a swoon losing 6 of 9 games to finish out the month.  However, since the calendar has flipped over, the Indians have won 3 of their 4 games, thanks mainly to a rejuvenated offense and solidifying starting pitching.

- On Thursday the Tribe started the last series before the All-Star break, a four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Josh Tomlin got the start for the Indians, coming in with a record of 4-5, and an ERA of 5.85 with some ugly performances in June.  Lil’ Cowboy will need to start turning things around if he doesn’t want the Indians to spend July shopping for his replacement. Jeremy Hellickson (4-4, 3.44 ERA) got the start for the Rays.

Scoring Wrap

- Shin-Shoo Choo got things started early, drilling the third pitch he saw from Hellickson over the right-field fence to get the Tribe off on the right foot and take the lead 1-0.

- Michael Brantley continued his hitting tear, shooting a solo homer into the right field stands in the second to put the Indians ahead 2-0.

- Will Rhymes tripled down the right field line with one out in the 5th. Choo leaped to try and catch the ball before it hit high up on the wall in the right field corner, but his glove jammed against the fence railing and Rhymes coasted into third. Jose Molina grounded to short to drive the run home and cut the Indians lead to one.

- Travis Hafner drilled a solo shot to right field off Rays’ reliever Jake McGee in the 8th, giving the Tribe some breathing room and stretching their lead to 3-1.

What Went Right

Starting Pitching

Josh Tomlin – 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K, 0 BB

- Tomlin needed a strong start to get some momentum going in the month of July and he delivered.  Limiting walks is the key for Tomlin since he gives up so many fly balls and he kept the bases awfully clean on Thursday allowing only three runners the entire game and using 88 pitches to get through seven innings.

Offense

- Jose Molina seemed awfully concerned about Jeremy Hellickson missing on the plate Thursday night.  Molina routinely set-up completely off the plate, with his body in the other batter’s box and his glove barely shading the outside corner of the plate.

- Maybe Molina was concerned about Hellickson missing because every time a Ray’s pitcher missed on the plate the Indians belted a solo home run.  The solo shot was the weapon of choice Thursday night as the Tribe belted three.

-  Michael Brantley continued his hot streak, reaching base three times.

Defense

- Jack Hannahan absolutely robbed B.J. Upton on a groundball he smoked to third in the second inning.  I absolutely love watching Hannahan play third.  Judging by the look on B.J. Upton’s face after the play, he does not feel the same way.

- Jason Kipnis made a great defensive play to snare a line drive from Carlos Pena in the fourth.  Without the shift on, Pena leads off the fourth with a double.

- Casey Kotchman made a rare fielding mistake in the fifth, failing to scoop a low throw from Carlos Santana on a strikeout/wild pitch.  Kotchman really tried to make up for it with the next batter, jumping into (and over the steps of) the Rays dugout to try and snag a foul ball and help Tomlin get out of the fifth.  The ball hit his glove, but he couldn’t hang on, and Tomlin got Sean Rodriguez to groundout on the next pitch. Great effort, even if it didn’t work out.

- Choo made a nice, or lucky, play to snare Ben Zobrist’s liner to end the 6th.  The backpedaling, jumping, over the head grab wasn’t exactly pretty but it helped Tomlin escape trouble.

- Cunningham made a nice play to nail Elliot Johnson at second.  We have all pointed out everything Cunningham has done wrong, so he deserves some credit when he makes a big play and a throw to prevent a leadoff double, in the 8thinning, with a one-run lead, is certainly a big play.

Bullpen

Pestano/Perez – 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB

- Pestano and Perez took care of business.  Seven innings from your starter, plus Pestano and Perez (and Joe Smith when necessary) will be a winning combination on most nights. Last night was no exception.

What Went Wrong  

Not much went wrong Thursday night.  There were a fair number of runners left on base and opportunities for more runs but Tomlin and the defense came up big and made the three solo shots more than enough to take the first game against the Rays.

The Indians will square off against the Rays Friday night at Progressive Field. Justin Masterson (5-7, 3.92 ERA) will start for the Tribe against righty Alex Cobb (3-4, 4.94 ERA) for the Rays.

User Comments

Tony
July 6, 2012 - 9:11 AM EDT
I took the family and some friends to the game last night. We discussed how this lineup is not as far off from being very good as if Hafner just is what he has been the last few years, he really adds some length to it. The key is getting Santana going and getting a RH bat. It changes everything as then you can live with Hannahan 9th and then one of Damon/Kotchman 8th (depending on where the RH bat pickup plays). Nice to see last night with Hafner though.
Rich
July 6, 2012 - 7:44 AM EDT
Pronk hitting a 97 mph fastball off a lefty over the right field fence is a very good sign. Let's hope he can stay healthy through the second half.

I'm not sure if Tomlin was throwing great or if the Rays just have a bad hitting team. His fastball hit 93 a couple of times and I haven't seen that out of him before. He had all his pitches working last night. Only two hits in seven innings.

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