"Hi, you've reached the Cleveland Indians. We're not home right now, so please leave a message at the tone."
"Cleveland, this is Opportunity. I knocked and knocked and knocked, but no one answered. I guess you're not home. I guess I'll hop in the car and try Detroit." 1) Squander Ball! Yesterday we covered the Immutable Law of Pitching. Today, we look at the Immutable Law of Offense: with a runner on third and fewer than two outs, you must score a run. You must. Must, must, must. Let's go to the videotape. In the 4th inning, Martinez doubled and went to third on an infield single by Broussard. After a wild pitch (nice patience by Belliard here, taking three balls after 0-2), Broussard goes to second and they walk Belliard to load the bases with NO OUTS. Now, let's say you're a lame-ass motherfucker, and you do the lamest thing you can possibly do at this point, ground into a double play. A brisk 6-4-3 later (they'd take it, they were up 2-1), you score a run and have a guy on third with two outs. Even if the next guy pops out, you score one run. So scoring one run is pretty lame. Naturally, this is exactly as many runs as we scored. Granted, Boone lined out: a couple of degrees lower and it's a 4-6-3, a couple higher and it's a two-run single, but it was the FIRST PITCH after the guy just threw four straight balls including a wild pitch. Now a new guy comes in cold out of the pen. (His next two pitches were balls.) That's fucking terrible. In the 7th, Blake doubled and moved to third on Sizemore's groundout to first (an acceptible piece of hitting, especially with two strikes). Lineout, groundout, shutout. In the 8th, Hafner doubled (I see a pattern emerging here) and moved to third on a sac fly (to left! Speedy Travis!). Strikeout, pop out, shutout. Now, this doesn't count the times we simply left a guy in scoring position with two outs, raising clutch outmaking to an art form (5 total for the game). We had more H+BB, fewer DP, fewer guys thrown out on the basepaths, more extra-base hits, and still managed to score fewer runs. That's just shitty. 2) Meet Average Paul You've seen Evil Paul, the version of Byrd who throws 60% strikes and gets bombed. You've seen Good Paul, the version of Byrd who throws 70% strikes and wins Quality Starts. What happens in the middle? Byrd threw 65% strikes last night, scattered 9 hits and walked 2, struck out exactly nobody, and lost on an unearned run (for which it's hard to feel sorry for Byrd since he made the goddam error). Look, German is hot, hitting over .400 (which won't last, but he is hot). Grudzielanek is hitting .292, he's a professional. After this, the lineup sports the following averages: .250, .220, .200, .204, .071 (!), .231, .217, where the .250 and .217 were buoyed by two-hit nights, including John Buck's first home run not involving a Wiffle Ball. That's a crummy lineup. I mean, truly poor. Now, the thing is, the two-run single to Mientkiewicz was actually a terrific, nasty pitch. At 0-2, Byrd threw a mean-spirited pitch (a splitter, perhaps?) that tailed away and down out of the strike zone. How he pulled that is completely incomprehensible. Byrd wasn't bad, he did go seven innings, but this is a pitiful lineup, so it's a stretch to actually annoint it "good." 3) Grady Power! Grady Sizemore flashed extra-base power of two types last night: a triple into the corner showing off his wheels, and a homer in the ninth to show off his guns. You'll take that from your leadoff man, I'd expect. 4) Consider the corner officially turned I promised someone via e-mail that I'd officially consider Ferd Cabrera to be a bullpen asset when he brought his ERA down to single digits or racked up three consecutive scoreless outings. Due to the early-season ridiculosity, his ERA is technically still 10.24, but this was his third straight scoreless outing, so as far as I'm concerned, Cabrera is back. After starting Graffanino off with three straight balls, Ferd settled down to throw six strikes and one ball, chalking up a three-pitch strikeout and a double play for his efforts. Hard to ask for much more than that. 5) A tip of the hat To Buddy Bell, who lifted a moderately wild and questionably effective Denny Bautista after loading the bases in the fourth with nobody out to bring in swingman Mike Wood. True, Bautista had just come off the DL and was not very sharp, but he was still in the lead and had only thrown 60 pitches. Plus, bringing in a reliever with the bases loaded and no outs is a tough spot to put a youngish guy in, no matter how ugly his stock photo. Yes, he was facing Aaron Boone, but Casey Blake was next, and not even Boone can hit into a triple play. My guess is that Inertia Man would not have made this move. Granted, we also would not have started Denny Bautista. 6) A slug in the face To Aaron Boone, who not only went 0-for-4, who not only lined out in the aforementioned bases-loaded no-out situation, but managed to come up with 6 men on base aggregate and advanced each of them not one fucking iota. Well, actually, this is unfair. Three of the runners moved quite a bit ... back to the dugout to get their fucking gloves because he made the last fucking out of the inning. Boone is now at .232. That means after his hot four-game start, he is 19-for-91, or .208. His OPS remains under .700. With his mates from 2005 hitting .395 (Broussard) and .370 (Blake), Boone stands out as ... basically ... a player who still can't fucking hit. I am not demanding he be lifted from the roster immediately (that vitriol is saved for Ramon Vazquez), but I am telling you, I do not like him, Sam I Am. 7) Ducks on the pond! I don't have the strength. 11 total. My pancreas hurts. 8) The Bob Wickman School of Closing I am sure that Abercrombie Burlap is a perfectly nice man, and it's impressive that they'll toss a (just-turned) 22-year-old into the deep end as the closer (5 saves, or more than half of KC's wins). But the man gave up as many baserunners as outs including a bomb to the leadoff guy, leaving the tying run in scoring position as Martinez fouled out. He certainly made it interesting, but it wasn't exactly dominant. Perhaps it was an homage to the New Cleveland Indians All-Time Saves Leader. 9) Schedule weirdness The Royals have won 8 ball games. Three each from the White Sox and Indians, and two from the Twins. Two from the Twins I understand, but three each from Chicago and Cleveland? And a o-fer from the rest of the AL? That's ... well, it's weird. By the way, why is Matt Stairs on this team? (Or Mark Grudzielanek, really?)