“Matt Moore is Tampa Bay’s starter for this game.”
“Matt Moore pitches primarily with his left arm.”
“The Indians will lose this game.”
There’s a syllogism hiding in there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.
7:30 PM – After Moore sends the Indians down in order in the top of the first, Josh Tomlin gets to work. Let’s get ugly:
- Lead-off single to BJ Upton (that looked more like a double).
- Home run to right center by Carlos Pena. It’s worth noting that if Carlos Pena could draw up the sort of pitcher he’d like to face, it would look very much like Josh Tomlin: right handed, without swing and miss stuff, and generally around the strike zone. 2-0 Rays.
- Speaking of around the strikezone, Tomlin follows up the HR by walking Ben Zobrist. Tomlin now has a 2.38 BB/9 compared to 1.14 last season. You cannot double your walk-rate—no matter how minuscule—and remain an effective pitcher unless you increase you strikeout rate comparably. We kinda knew that was unsustainable, I think, but here’s the evidence, smacking you right in the face.
- After retiring Matt Joyce and Jeff Keppinger, Luke Scott “triples” to right on a pretty poor play by Choo. Zobrist scores. 3-0 Rays before we can blink.
7:35 PM – Five minutes since the Rays stopped scoring, and the Indians have already gone in order again. Baseball needs something comparable to a “time of possession” stat. I suppose the opposing pitcher’s pitch count might be the best approximation? Tonight, Matt Moore has thrown 19 pitches and recorded six outs (3.16 pitches per out). Josh Tomlin has thrown 26 pitches and recorded three outs (8.67 pitches per out). This has been brought to you by TD’s Mandatory Early Inning Pitch count Summary (MEIPS™).
8:00 PM – I’m interrupting my dinner to write this, as it’s important. In the top of the fourth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a hit (the Indians’ first of the evening). That is only his second hit in his last 29 plate appearances. Still 3-0. Back to dinner.
8:14 PM – Ugggh. After Cabrera’s lead-off single, Kipnis and Brantley walked to load the bases with nobody out. When we had one of these yesterday, and I mentioned the run expectancy charts. Evidently, those charts are liars. Lopez managed to hit a sac fly to right to score Asdrubal, but then Santana strikes out and Duncan flies out to center.
I can’t take another night of this, you guys. I really can’t. 3-1 Rays.
8:27 PM – Not much has happened here; it’s still 3-1. But Lou Marson just swung and missed at a pitch in a manner that can only be described as, “Oh…….ALRIGHT.” If I knew how to make GIFs, I would.
8:37 PM – As soon as I write “not much has happened”….stuff happens.
Marson ended up turning his Liotta-esque swing into a one-out walk. Choo follows with a single, and after an Asdrubal fly out, Jason Kipnis drives in Marson with a single up the middle. 3-2 Rays.
After a Brantley walk loads the bases, Lopez drives a ball to left field, but it lacks the distance, ending the threat.
Michael Brantley now has 15 walks in his last 17 games, which is a lot. But remember that we used to think he’d be an on base percentage guy—his minor league numbers sure looked promising. It was just that it never seemed to translate. Far be it from me to read too much into a 17 game sample, but what if he’s figured it out? He is the youngest position player on the team’s 25-man roster, and new tricks and young dogs and CLICHES!!
8:47 PM – I don’t think anyone, after watching the first inning, would’ve guessed that Josh Tomlin would outlast Matt Moore in this game. But it’s looking possible. After Santana leads off the top of the sixth with a walk, Joe Maddon yanks him for Wade Davis. Dunkers should probably be pinch hit for here for the platoon advantage, but it’s not looking like that going to happen.
8:52 PM – Nope. Acta leaves Duncan in. Ground ball double play wipes away the baserunner and Kotchman follows with a weak fly to left. WHEEEEEEE!!
9:09 PM – Tomlin outlasts Moore, but to no great effect. With one out and Keppinger on first base, Desmond Jennings grounds into a fielder’s choice to get aboard. After Jennings steals second on a somewhat questionable call, Jose Lobaton singles him in. Tomlin’s night is done.
Tony Sipp enters the game in to face Johnson, and promptly strikes him out. 4-2 Rays.
9:22 PM – Indians go down in order in the seventh. Nothing is happening, but it’s taking forever.
9:30 PM – Rick Manning is an interesting fella. For example, tonight, he’s decided that Carlos Pena, who steps out of the batter’s box between each pitch (like most batters, we should acknowledge), is delaying the game unnecessarily. In response to Pena stepping out, taking a deep breath and staring momentarily at his bat, Rick shouts, “WHATCHA LOOKING AT, PENA?? GET IN THERE!!”
We can only assume that Rick Manning has things to do in Tampa Bay this evening, and they don’t involve no stinking baseball game.
9:47 PM – This game has ground to a halt. But I guess I should point out that Jeremy Accardo has managed to get three batters out. IN A ROW.
4-2 Rays heading to the top of the ninth. Santana, Duncan and Kotchman due up against Fernando Rodney.
9:51 PM – The first pitch to Santana is called a strike—a call that Santana is visibly repulsed by. He turns around and speaks briefly to the home plate umpire. My question: how low must one’s batting average be before such a discussion is rendered laughable? Santana is batting .221. I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes with that.
9:53 PM – Santana gets hit by a pitch, but before I can even start to get excited Duncan lines back to Rodney who doubles Santana off first. All of a sudden a promising inning turns sour: two down, and Casey Kotchman is our only hope.
9:55 PM – Kotchman lines a single up the middle. Hafner pinch hitting for Laser Lou.
9:56 PM – Hafner puts a charge in to one, but it’s too high, and the Indians go down 4-2.
There are likely interesting things to say about this game, though I can’t think of any. The Indians had four hits, all singles. They made an error. Josh Tomlin looked terrible until he didn’t. The bad half of the bullpen didn’t implode, which is something, I guess.
But it’s not much.
Maybe Rick Manning’s right. Maybe we should stop spending so much time on this crummy team and get ourselves to a Greater Tampa area Sizzler so we can meet a nice lady with a plastic hip who’ll tell us stories about The War while we share a sirloin. Maybe this team is a lost cause. The Indians have now been outscored on the season by 34 runs—the fourth worst mark in the American League. It’s fairly accepted wisdom that they need both a bat AND a starting pitcher, which is just another way of saying that they’re not all that good to begin with.
Maybe I’m being too hard on them, but I don’t see a team that has any reason to be thinking postseason thoughts right now. This team doesn’t feel right to me, and it doesn’t feel particularly close to right either. Something’s amiss.
Or as Rick Manning would say: “WHAT’S AMATTER WITH YOU??”
Photo: Mike Carlson – Associated Press