Second Thoughts: Game #83-Rays 10, Indians 3
By Jim Berdysz
July 7, 2012
|W: Cobb (4-5) L: Masterson (5-8)
Player of the Game: Alex Cobb (6 innings 6 hits 3 ER 2 BB 4 SO)
Having scored just 32 runs in their last 11 games coming into the ballgame, the Tampa Bay Rays scored 10 runs for the first time in about a month, easily defeating the Indians on Friday night 10-3. Opening the game with a two-run homer by Ben Zobrist, the Rays would never look back snapping the Tribe’s three-game winning streak.
Tribe starter Justin Masterson just did not have it from the very first inning, as the Indians ace went only 4 1/3 innings allowing eight runs on nine hits, walking four and striking out seven.
The Bottom 9
- Masterson far from Masterful. It was bound to happen sooner or later. After going 3-3 with a 1.93 ERA over his last six starts, Masterson fell victim to both the heat and Rays hitters failing to go at least five innings for the first time since April 17. Only 57 of Masterson’s 102 pitches were called for strikes, bumping his season ERA back up to 4.40.
- The 5th inning. There’s not much more to say about it, as the top half of the fifth was the game clincher for the Rays as they put up six runs on five hits in the inning. What was once a ballgame at 4-2 quickly mounted into an onslaught of runs from Tampa Bay’s struggling offense, capped off by a B.J. Upton RBI single to seal the easy victory.
- WALKS. It was almost like Tampa Bay took precaution from the brutal heat and humidity during the game, as the team would not run but instead walk a season-high eight times in Friday’s ballgame. For a team that was already struggling to put up runs, walking batters and giving a team free base runners always comes back to hurt you in the end.
- Pronkless. Travis Hafner went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game while also grounding into two crucial double plays. There’s no doubt Pronk ended two potential rallies by grounding into two easy double plays, once in the first inning with the bases loaded and nobody out, and also in the sixth inning with no outs and two runners on base. Since returning from the disabled list, Hafner is now 2-for-11 (.182) with a homer and a RBI.
- Struggle with RISP. No question the Indians had chances to score and rally back from the early deficit, but could never seem to get the big inning going as the team went just 2-for-10 (.200) with runners in scoring position. Cleveland had their leadoff man reach base in five of the nine innings and managed to total just three runs for the second straight night.
- Choo caught sleeping. With one run already in with two outs and Shin-Soo Choo on first in the bottom half of the fifth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera worked the count to 3-0 only to have Choo get picked off of first base to end the inning. Not saying the Cabrera would have launched a homer if the Indians right fielder doesn’t get picked off, or that Jason Kipnis would have been clutch to give the Tribe some runs late, but talk about one big rally killer to get picked off of first on a 3-0 pitch. Unbelieveable.
- Luke Scott...really? Is it just me or does it always seems like opposing players like to break their slumps or offensive struggles against the Tribe? Coming into the game hitless in his last 39 at-bats, Rays DH Luke Scott blasted a mammoth two-run homer off Masterson ending his hitless streak at a Tampa Bay franchise record 41 games.
- Rays hitters with multiple hits. Five of the Rays nine starters finished the game with at least two hits in the ballgame, where four batters in the lineup also added two or more RBI to the stat sheet as well.
- “Defensive replacements.” Sure the Indians are down by seven runs late, but come on Manny Acta, do we really have to see Aaron Cunningham and his usual one strikeout each and every game? I’ve said it time and time again, I just don’t get it. Current Triple-A center fielder Trevor Crowe in 653 career Major League at-bats is hitting .245 with three home runs and 55 RBI. It can’t hurt to try and see what he can do as the Tribe’s fourth outfielder instead of wasting time keeping Cunningham around.
The Top 3
- Top of the order produces again. Choo, Cabrera, and Kipnis combined to go 5-for-8 with an RBI against the Rays pitching staff on Friday. The Indians 1 thru 3 hitters continue to put up solid at-bats and give the Tribe offense hope at the top of the lineup.
- J-Lo to get more playing time? Third baseman Jose Lopez came into the ballgame late and wasted no time getting acclimated, ripping a double off the top of the left field wall in his only at-bat in the eighth inning. Over his last seven games, J-Lo is hitting .500 (12-for-24) with three doubles, one homer, and seven RBI. With Jack Hannahan only batting .193 over his last 10 games and Lonnie Chisenhall possibly sidelined for the rest of the season, it makes sense for Acta to give Lopez (a right-handed hitter) more playing time in the weeks and months to come.
- Larry Dolby tribute. One of the biggest highlights of the night came postgame as former Indians and Hall of Fame legend Larry Doby was honored by the Tribe and the City of Cleveland. This week marks the 65th anniversary of Doby becoming the first African American baseball player to play in the American League.
With the loss to Tampa Bay and a White Sox win, the Indians (43-40) fall back to three games behind their division rivals in the Central Division. Also don’t look now, but the Detroit Tigers moved their record to an even .500 on Friday for the first time since May 15th.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and rebound on Saturday, as it will be Ubaldo Jimenez (7-7, 4.59 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (5-5, 4.17 ERA) at 6:05 pm. Jimenez is 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA in seven starts at Progressive Field this season, holding opposing hitters to a .210 average. The Tribe has never faced the rookie southpaw Moore, as the team is just 8-16 against left-handed starters in 2012.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
As for Chisenhall, yep, he's out 10-12 weeks. Initially was thought he would be out 4-6 weeks, but after going in and repaired the fracture they found it was closer to the joint so it added 6 weeks to his return date. 10 weeks put us into mid-Sept. and 12 weeks is the end of the season.