Indians

Indians 2, Mariners 1: The Griticism of Clutch: Where Hannahan Wins One for the Dipper

Cleveland Indians v Seattle Mariners

Well, somehow every time TD makes me write these recaps, the games have a 75% chance of being exciting.  I hope he never figures this out, because I seriously can’t stay up this late all the time.

Let’s do our recap in three pieces.

Josh Tomlin is becoming a sneaky good pitcher.* What if I told you that Tomlin pitched eight innings, threw only 95 pitches and somehow racked up seven strikeouts with ZERO walks?  Yes, it’s against the lowly Mariners, but on the young season, Tomlin’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is now sitting at 14.00!  Which, fine, is ridiculously unsustainable.  But it also demonstrates that Tomlin is somehow—against all odds—still doing the exact same thing he’s been doing for two years: walking no one.  And it’s just insane how effective that can be when you start paying attention.

*I’ve decided to call Tomlin “The Dipper”.  You should be able to figure that out.  And you’re going to have to deal with it.

Tomlin gave up five hits—four for extra bases.  This should strike us as scary.  After all, extra base hits allowed should indicate that a pitcher is being hit particularly hard. But what we know about Tomlin is that he is destined to be hit particularly hard.  He just doesn’t have the stuff to induce weak contact.  To survive, he must make up for his deficiencies by eschewing walks and, when possible, mixing in strikeouts.  Last night, he was successful on both accounts.

In fact, the only run Tomlin allowed came in the bottom of the fifth.  After allowing a lead-off double to Michael Saunders, Miguel Olivo followed with a sacrifice bunt to get Saunders to third with one out.  John Jaso then bounced a ball to an off-balance Kipnis, who couldn’t make an accurate thrown to home plate.  That was the lone blemish on Tomlin’s record.

Other than that Tomlin was brilliant.  Brilliant for his strikeouts.  Brilliant for his lack of walks.  Brilliant for his efficiency.  Which is more important than we tend to remember.

But to be honest, we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to be enough to give the Indians a win, because…

Felix Hernandez is a gol-darned beast! Were you impressed by Josh Tomlin’s seven strikeouts?  Because Felix thinks that’s for seventh-grade wimp-bags.  King Felix K’d twelve batters—wait, I should write “12” because that’s so darn many strikeouts that we use Arabic numbers—Felix K’d “12” Indians over his eight innings, while allowing only five singles.  Through the first seven innings, the Mariners’ ace allowed only two hits.  In a word, Felix is a machine. The Mariners were winning this game heading into the ninth inning, and to be completely honest, they deserved to be winning the game at that point.  Felix was that good.

The Indians ended up winning this game for two reasons: (1) they drove up Felix’s pitch count—126 pitches over his eight innings; and (2)….

Jack Hannahan is a Bad, Bad Man. I’ve trained myself not to be emotional about these sorts of things.  While I find it preferable for Shelley Duncan to drive in all of our runs, I’m not particularly opposed to other players contributing.  And while I understand that Chris Perez is the designated closer, I’m not against using Vinnie Pestano in a pinch. (See what I did there?)

Which brings me to Jack Hannahan and his knack for making us happy.  For a guy who hit only .250/.331/.388 (.711) in 2011–a season widely recognized as his best on record–the fans of Cleveland tend to have an unnatural belief that Hannahan is a completely respectable option at a corner position that typically demands above average offense.  Have I mentioned that he’s now made four errors in 2012 (only one player in MLB currently has more)? Super-DUPER!  (Quiet Steiner! This is not how you make friends, dummy! )

Entering the top of the ninth, down 1-0, Carlos Santana drew a walk (of course he did).  Travis Hafner followed with a broken bat single to right.  After a Kotchman laid a sacrifice bunt (for goodness’ sake, you guys, he’s a FIRST BASEMAN) and a Dunker’s walk, Jack Hannahan was ready for his close up.

And of course, the Gritty One delivered, with an opposite field single to score Santana and Hafner.  With that, the Indians took a 2-1 lead and an improbable 91.7% chance of winning the game that, heretofore, looked pretty hopeless.

To top it off, Chris Perez sent down the heart of the Mariners’ lineup in the bottom of the ninth with nary a whimper: Ichiro groundout; Smoak K swinging; Seager fly out.  Winner.  Winner.  Poultry will be had for supper.

For only the second time this season, the Indians find themselves with a winning record.  Next up on the west coast swing comes the Oakland A’s and Ubaldo’s latest chance at relevance tonight at 10:05 PM

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

  • Jack

    Both Chuck and Haf had doubles off Felix, no?

  • Jack

    Also, disagree on Tomlin. First strong outing of the year, no? And his outs on balls in play (read: outs on balls where the cover is knocked off the ball) was insanely high last night.

    And some of those doubles are homers against bos, nyy, tex, det, minn, anyone other than the mariners

  • MrCleaveland

    Way to grind, men.

  • USSChoo

    Took my a minute to figure out why you were calling him Chuck. Duh. Carlos, Charles, Chuck. Gonna be a long day.

    But, yes. Both doubled and hit the ball hard doing so.

  • USSChoo

    Took my a minute to figure out why you were calling him Chuck. Duh. Carlos, Charles, Chuck. Gonna be a long day.

    But, yes. Both doubled and hit the ball hard doing so.

  • cmm13

    I CAN’T BELIEVE WEDGE PULLED FELIX IN THE NINTH! 

    WHO PULLS THEIR STAR PITCHER IN THE NINTH WITH A LEAD TO HAND THE BALL TO THEIR PERFECT CLOSER?!?!

  • JNeids

    Axel Foley would like a word with you.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Big difference between the 126 pitches that Hernandez had thrown through 8 and the 99 that Masterson had thrown through 8 on opening day. 

  • REEPJP

    Changing the subject….any word on a Grady rehab assignment or the Johnny Damon experiment moving along to Cbus?  I’m heading to the game next Saturday night, and although the games are always a blast, hoping to have a little more reason to convince others.  Heck, with either of these guys the dreamy factor should be high enough to at least convince the wife.

  • LaundoMat

    Can’t tell whether you’re actually complaining about Kotchman, a first baseman, bunting.  I can’t see what in the world it matters what position the guy plays.  If a bunt is useful in the situation, why not do it? 

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hernandez had to work like a dog to keep it 1-0 and it’s the closers job to close it out.  League is shaky normally so I’m sure Felix was nervous.  It’s a shame Hernandez is stuck on that team,

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Tomlin matched Hernandez almost pitch for pitch well okay maybe not fastballs in the mid to upper 90s but you know what I mean.  That being said I’m not going to annoint Tomlin, it was one start, he’s done this kind of thing before.  I much prefer Gomez back as the fifth starter.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    At the beginning of last season, I loathed Jack Hannahan.  I didn’t have anything against Hannahan himself, but he represented the sorry state of the team – the Indians signed a career .224 hitter to be their Opening Day starter.  He embodied the absence of hope for this team.

    But Gritty Jack won me over during the ’11 season, so much so that I was comfortable with him winning the 3B job over Chisenhall (even though it meant Chiz was underperforming).  And after his Opening Day HR, the Kansas City fight, and last night’s clutch hit, he’s become one of my favorite players in recent years.

  • Jacob

    Even though the batters couldn’t score off of Hernandez, they did an outstanding job working counts and racking up his pitch count so he couldn’t go nine. It ended up paying off in the ninth.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    There’s also a big difference between throwing in a completely healthy League with a 0.00 ERA versus throwing in a cold pitcher just getting over an oblique injury on a very cold night.  I still think Acta lost that first game by pulling Masterson and I will not be convinced otherwise.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Actually, their fastballs are about the same speed… Tomlin was around 90-91 and King Felix was around 92-93 last night.  I’m not sure if Felix is always in that speed range, but last night he was.

  • EyesAbove

    Lonnie will get his shot, hes currently got a .989 OPS at Columbus.

    Hannahan also had a 2.4 WAR last season in limited duty, you can do a lot worse even if he is an average hitter. In an ideal world the Tribe would have a masher at 3rd base but they dont live in an ideal world. Not until Lonnie is ready anyway. I think the 4 errors are more fluky than anything. Hannahan helped turned a nice double play last night, the defense is still there. Not expecting that trend to continue.

  • EyesAbove

     I think that was part of his point on Tomlin, hes going to get hit hard quite often. BUT if he can strike people out and not walk anyone, he can be effective. Not top of the rotation effective, but back of the rotation inning eater effective. If he can continue to not walk anybody, his magic act might just last a little while. Yeah he’s going to get lit up by the big boys here and there, and the Mariners arent the Yankees, but that doesnt mean that he isnt useful.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well Tomlin was rested and perhaps all of the pitches Hernandez throws effected him because usually he’s mid to upper 90s easy. 

  • mgbode

    yes the world would be such a better place if we could just put all the best players on 1 or 2 teams instead

    #SarcasmInCaseThatWasNotBrutallyClearEnough

  • mgbode

    Jack Hannahan owns April

  • Jack

    Yeah, meant to say that I thought the “ifs” were more like “whens” but forgot…my bad.

  • cmm13

    If you are comparing Hernandez to Masterson solely on pitch count there is no comparison.

    Felix is a freak and 120 pitches to him is like 80-90 to most normal pitchers.

    Now, that being said, my original comment was clearly in the sarcasm font….it was sarcastic. 😉

    Of course you pull him and go to your closer as I also would have had I been in Manny’s shoes in Game 1 this year.

    Leauge was 5 for 5 heading into that 9th.

  • cmm13

    no changing the subject on thread, you know the rules REEP.

    j/k… the latest on Grady is that there is no latest. 

    He underwent “minimally invasive” back surgery in the beginning of March and was an expected 2-3 months of recovery before being able to begin assignment.
     

  • cmm13

    Even though their fastballs are about the same Felix’s ace in the hole is his wicked change up. 

    It drops a foot before it gets to hitters.  Ask Kipnis…Hernandez made him look like a chump almost every plater appearence last night.

  • cmm13

    Does his wife know?

  • They said on the STO broadcast the other night that Sizemore was cleared to resume baseball activities next week.  More here:

    http://www.ohio.com/blogs/tribe-matters/tribe-matters-1.282227/injury-update-sizemore-almost-ready-for-baseball-activities-1.301226

    I know Damon was in AZ taking some BP and fielding practice.  I’m not sure when he might see game activity, but it could be by that game next Saturday.

  • mgbode

    Jenny and John Joseph Hannahan V know and understand Jack’s need to dominate April.

  • Ritz

    I think Perez lost the game by giving up runs. Or was it Acta pitching? I can’t remember…

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Gotcha… managers can not be at fault for tactical decisions.  I’ll write that rule down somewhere.

  • Ritz

    My point is that it is the job if Chris Perez to close the game. Acta asked him to do his job. He failed.

    Acta had a guy in his pen who has spent the last two years training to close and doing it. To blame a manager for calling in his closer in the ninth after the starter threw about 100 pitches in the first game of the year before his arm is completely stretched out is foolish at best.

    Manny Acta is a pretty darn good manager and Chris Perez is a decent closer. Your opinion is 100% based on hindsight. Had Mastersin came back in and given up runs I guess that would have been a tactical error too.

  • Ritz

    His fastball also moves a lot more than Tomlin’s.

  • cmm13

    Very true..his two seam also drops a foot by the time it gets to the plate…ask Choo, he got made a fool of chasing it twice or thrice last night to!

  • MrCleaveland

    Yeah, but can he also dominate May and June?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    We will simply have to agree to disagree my dear Ritz… I see the risk being higher on the side of briging in an untested Perez right after injury.  I would not have faulted Acta for staying with a starter who was breezing through his opponent… at the time I wanted him to stay with Masterson and was disappointed he brought in Perez before a single hit or walk was issued… definitely wouldn’t have faulted him… I’m always on the side of keeping with momentum.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Oh definitely… I was just nit-picking about the fastball speed.  There’s no doubt that Felix is the better pitcher with nastier stuff.

  • mgbode

    his recent history says he prefers not to, but that he likes to come back later to dominate August and Autumn.

  • mgbode

    the only MLBer to have more errors than Hannahan?  Troy Tulowitzki with 6 errors.

    Troy had 6 errors all of last year while winning a gold glove.

  • MrCleaveland

    Based on personal experience, I’ll wager that he can’t dominate Jan.

  • Kildawg

    Kotchman did what was necessary to help the team win. They walked the Dunc to set up the game-ending DP to face Supermannahan, who got the winning knock. More importantly, the Tomlinator hung with one of the best pitchers in the league, got the W, andf most importantly saved the Bullpen Mafia sans the guy that get saves.

  • cmm13

    whaddya trying to say?  tomlin isn’t good enough for you?

    #justkidding

  • cmm13

    coincidence that these are also ladies names?

    …except for August, but then that ruins the joke.

  • mgbode

    I have known a couple of girls named August.  And, I think you might have caught onto what we were doing there (and why I used Autumn instead of September) – of course, you started it!

  • mgbode

    apparently he is reliant on starting with the letter ‘A’, so I would concur.

  • MrCleaveland

     Are we about done?

  • mgbode

    glaring omission of Ruby aside (month of July), yes.

  • MrCleaveland

     Well if you’re going to throw birthstones into the mix, we have to include my special friend Sapphire.

  • 5KMD

    Jon, Cunningham pitch ran and scored the winner.

    At least that’s what I heard, I wasn’t up.

  • mgbode

    she’s busy at the Lucky Lounge though