How would you like to be Anthony Reyes? Your run support the last two games: one. He'll have to cut his mistakes back from one to zero if he wants to win for these mooks.
1) Getting back on the horse
It's hard to pitch worse than C.C. Sabathia did last time: 9 ER in 2 1/3 IP. Conversely, it's hard to pitch a lot better than he did last night. Even with his rhythm derailed by a rain delay, Sabathia tossed 8 excellent innings and was in command pretty much the whole game. He only struck out 4, but didn't walk anyone and scattered 5 hits to leave Really Big Bob with a 2-run lead to protect.
Here's the neat thing about his outing last night: after a scattershot first inning, Sabathia faced 26 hitters, and 22 were treated with a first-pitch strike. Now, there's something to be said for wanting to be a little unpredictable, but starting batters out 0-1 consistently (or recording a first-pitch out: only 1 hit, a single, was a first pitch) is a Very Good Thing. Replace David Eckstein with Ramon Vazquez, and this is a 3-hit shutout.
2) A lot like patience
Grady Sizemore took the first pitch of the game for a strike. After missing the next one, he watched four balls go by to get on base. Going from 0-2 to a walk is a pretty neat trick, even if the guy (Reyes) is a bit off target.
Ron Belliard, who averages seeing 0.6 pitches per plate appearance, watched three balls and a strike go by. Hey, he couldn't find the plate for Grady, why not wait him out? Wait for him to throw a "get me over" fastball, and ... boom. With the benefit of the hindsight of Sabathia's performance, the game was over after the game's 11th pitch. Which was its fourth strike. That pretty much sums up Mr. Reyes' command (4 walks and 94 pitches in 5 innings).
3) A transfer of momentum
Inertia Man moves! Belliard looks pretty nice in the 2 hole. I like having the guy hitting .288 in the 2 slot instead of the guy hitting .196 (Hollandsworth).
That's just me, though.
(By the way, I was obviously exaggerating about Belliard's plate discipline: he walked last night and has an OBP-AVG of .049: not terrific, but not hacktastic, either.)
4) There goes the neighborhood
Sabathia struck out three times in four plate appearances last night, making him look more like Cliff Lee than Travis Hafner, but he does have a 2-game hitting streak after a single. After a quick start in which Cleveland pitchers sported a .333 AVG, Lee's "performance" and Sabathia's 1-for-4 outing have dropped pitcher down to below .300 and no longer the most productive position in the batting order.
They do still kick butt on our current corner outfielders, though. I'm not sure if Sabathia is mobile enough to play right, but he certainly has the arm for it. He does have an advantage over Todd Hollandsworth and Franklin Gutierrez, in that he is neither Todd Hollandsworth nor Franklin Gutierrez.
5) Ducks on the pond!
Sure, we won 3-1, but it's discouraging to watch 5 guys get stranded in scoring position and 9 overall. It's very nice to draw 5 walks in a game, but unless you make the other team pay for 'em, they're just pitch count elevators. Since three of the five were stranded by Hafner and Victor Martinez, it's hard to complain too much. However, through effort and willpower, I am able to manage it. (A daily columnist must sometimes draw from reserves he didn't know he had.)
6) Definition check
Shouldn't a sinker ... sink? I appreciate that Wickman threw strikes and efficiently (for Wickman: only one baserunner) saved the win, but two fly ball outs? Yeah, one was a popup into foul territory, but ... throw the sinker, homes.
7) Department of Corrections Department
Yesterday I wrote that Eric Wedge did not have Cliff Lee bunt. This was not technically accurate, in that it was completely false. Alert reader Jon Cohodas points out that Cliff Lee took two of the very worst stabs in major-league history at trying to bunt pitches out of the strike zone (thereby making them strikes, which is fiendishly clever indeed) before striking out. This, apparently, WAS enough for Wedge to tell him in no uncertain terms not to bunt a second time. One could argue that, in fact, there was no first time.
This seems like a good opportunity to hire someone to coach the players. You know, a coaching guy, someone who could coach them on how to bunt or run bases or hit the cutoff man or hold baserunners or count outs or do all the little things one is coached to do. We could even come up with a special title for such a coaching guy: we could call him a COACH.
Anyway, we should get some. They sound really useful.
8) Credit Where Credit Is Due Dept.
Grady Sizemore banged out his 21st double of the season. This gives him 41 extra-base hits on the season. He bats leadoff.
Travis Hafner did not get a hit but drew two walks. Hafner has a 1.071 OPS and has walked 65 times on the season. This puts him on pace to finish ninety-third in the All-Star voting and be the fifth alternate.
Franklin Gutierrez got a hit! He now has a two-game hitting streak, doubling his previous streak length of one.
9) Moment of seriousness
Best wishes to Peter Gammons.