W: McCarthy (1-0) L: Pavano (0-1)
Short column today, as this is Good Friday, as opposed to yesterday, which was Putrescent Thursday for the Tribe.
1) The Carl Pavano Drinking Game!
I tried playing the Carl Pavano Drinking Game, but I died with a blood alcohol level of 0.65%.
2) Zach Jackson to the Rescue!
Who would have thought that Zach Jackson would be such an integral part to the team? Well, I mean, not to the SUCCESS of the team, but to the team nonetheless.
Jackson actually performed quite admirably: although he ran out of effectiveness his second time through the order (which would seem to put a damper on his hopes of being a true starting pitcher or anything), Jackson tossed three scoreless innings after coming in in relief of Pavano in the second. Sure, he let Pavano's inherited runners score, but shoot, Pavano deserved it.
Jackson got away from the medium-slight groundball tendencies he showed last season, and in the fifth ended up yielding three consecutive singles after an HBP to cough up two more runs, but otherwise looked quite effective, especially with a shortish reliever's warmup. Jackson struck out 6, which is unusual for him, and didn't walk anyone: until the 5th, he had only given up one hit (although he ended up hitting two left-handed batters).
This is what the 7th-man role is: bail out a Disaster Start, and Jackson did it well. In all, he ended up tossing 42 strikes in 60 pitches and efficiently throttled a Rangers offense that had been hammering pretty much anyone and everyone to that point.
3) Sobering reflections
If Carl Pavano makes 129 more starts like this, he will earn his first performance bonus.
Pavano threw 21 strikes and 18 balls, walking three of the twelve hitters he faced. All scored.
His "Game Score" was 3. Average is 50. Excellent is 90. Putrid is 10. Pavano's was THREE.
When Pavano gave up the home run to Kinsler in the second, many were complaining that he shouldn't have even been out there. I had the opposite opinion: I was disappointed to see Pavano lifted after putting two more men on base, because I was hoping that Eric Wedge would give him a Punishment Complete Game. Had he done this, I think Pavano could have simply starved to death, making his performance bonuses that much harder to attain.
4) Team smash!
Grady Sizemore pounded a pair of two-run shots, one each way. He also struck out three times, but that hardly seems like a deal-breaker.
Victor Martinez slammed his first home runs of the season, also lacing a single and raising his average to .385 on the young season. His homer went to center, meaning it was no cheap shot.
Kelly Shoppach collected his first homer of the season to start the Indians' scoring. He also doubled and only Shoppached once.
Travis Hafner hit a home run down the line, meaning he is capable of pulling the ball.
5) Welcome to the bigs!
Trevor Crowe got his first big-league experience starting in right field. He did not do anything that would recommend him as a major-leaguer, but he did so nonetheless.
6) From perfectly awful to simply perfect
Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate four times: he laced a single and a double (hustling out a drive to right center that Josh Hamilton actually cut off nicely) and walked twice. After reaching base exactly zero times in the first two games, this was quite the contrast.
7) From simply perfect to what the f^#*
Then he stole third base.
With two out.
In the 8th inning.
Down four runs.
That's not even just bad, that's downright WEIRD.
8) Around the bullpen
Masa Kobayashi tossed a hitless inning to remain Cleveland's most effective reliever (along with Joe Smiff). I'm not sure how the guy who got POUNDED in the spring shuts down the Rangers in a wind-blowing-out Arlington, especially since all three of his outs were fly balls, but Kobayashi was very effective in the first half of last season, too, so I say ride that horse as long as he's breathing. (When he stops breathing, get off.)
Jensen Lewis looked a LOT better, topping 90 mph several times and striking out a pair of hitters. The only hit he yielded bounced off Martinez' glove at first and could easily have been an out. And his location was terrific on the strikeout of Michael Young: after five elevated pitches, Lewis hit the lower outside corner just beautifully. I'll take that, too.
Kerry Wood wasn't really very good, but he did strike out three guys. It was smart to get him some work, I think. This does not seem like a major concern.