What a catastrophe that was, eh? Bare with me as we pick up the pieces of what was weekend of disaster in Detroit.
August 21st, 2011
Cleveland Indians - 7
Detroit Tigers - 8
W: Phil Coke (2-8) L: Ubaldo Jimenez (7-10) S: Jose Valverde (37)
Look, it was a bad weekend. It's a sweep and it's at the hands of the team that was, coming into this series, a game and a half ahead in the standings. This was a big series for the Indians and Tigers. It's only mid-August, which means there is a month and a half left and much can change.
But in the interest of momentum, confidence, a .500 record, and the standings. This hurts.
What hurts most is the three ways the Tigers won. They started with a 4-1 victory in what was largely a pitcher's duel until the sixth inning when Josh Tomlin started to crack.
On Saturday, they bludgeoned the Tribe to death, not only roughing up their starter (and knocking him out before the completion of the third inning), but also getting to the bullpen contingency. It was a very painful Saturday night for that pitching staff. Huff had no control and it just set an uneasy status for the rest of the game.
Then of course on Sunday. This was just a mixture of both of the losses. I know, what? How do you mix a blowout and a close game together? Easy, pair off the Indians and Tigers, put a Joe West headed umpire crew in the middle, and sprinkle in a little bit of controversy and anger.
There was multiple parts of this game. There was the first two innings, very boring, very good pitching by the starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Rick Porcello. The third inning was dominated by the Tigers and made you think that not only was the game over, but so was the universe for all Tribe fans.
The fourth inning, the Indians began to punch their way back and gave more than glimmer of hope with it being a two-run game. But of course, that entire inning couldn't have been it's own part, it had to have some controversy in the bottom half with the run that scored, Jimenez's eighth earned of the game.
We'll talk about Ubaldo much later, but he was rocked. It was the most earned runs he has ever given up in a single start and he's drawing the ire of a lot of Tribe fans as we speak. While much of the blame can be placed on The Big U for this loss, there was some other stuff at work here that is worth mentioning before we touch up on Ubaldo's status.
Might as well start in the bottom of the fourth with that bogus run the Tigers scored to make it 8-5 (and it was their last run scored of the game, and the difference maker, mind you). Austin Jackson reaches on a single and then goes for the steal. Marson delivers a perfect strike to second. The ball literally hits the glove right as Jackson's foot does, clearly out.
But of course, the umpire, from his very advantageous angle, sees something totally different and calls Jackson safe.
Delmon Young would later single, run scores. Joe Smith comes in and gets a double play and guess what, that's four outs in an inning! Fantastic!
I've said it numerous times and I said it a few days ago when there was much chatter about the game the umps screwed up royally for the Indians. Blaming the officiating of a game is an excuse. Saying that that single play cost the Indians game is an excuse. So don't say that.
But it sure is frustrating to see these calls continue to be blown.. It's laziness. They say the reassurance of replay would make umpires lazy. Well at least it would make them right, right?
I'm not heavily on either side of the replay debate... But when things like that happen, it really sours things. Especially since it happened again later in the game, only the Tigers on the short end of a call.
"He had him," said Acta, referring to Asdrubal Cabrera's tag on Jackson. "I guess eventually we are going to have to go with that buzzer and use instant replay. He was out."
Even Acta has been dogged so much this season with the umpiring, he is calling for replay. He went from being against it, to calling for it in the span of a year.
What else was there? Oh before any of this happened, Rick Porcello threw at Asdrubal Cabrera. Um, yeah that was necessary. Porcello's afternoon would end shortly before Ubaldo's (who would have thought that after seven earned?) so I really don't care in the end of it. Him falling a part gave the Tribe a crack to re-enter the game.
Let's go to the sixth, that sounds good.
Asdrubal Cabrera hits a big double, then advances to third on a passed ball. Setting the stage for Travis Hafner to come through and continue to chip away at the lead. Hafner does, stinging one to right that scores Cabrera, but as he turns for second, something happens. The throw comes into second but Pronk is no where to be found. When the camera switches, Hafner is being tagged out as he limps back to first base.
Ugh, what now? What else could possibly happen to this team in terms of injuries? I mean seriously, this is getting to a point of absurdity with all these little things happening and causing this team to never be in-tact or close to in-tact. They get someone back and someone goes out.
But that's fate and you have to live with it. Of course no team goes the entire year without someone getting nixed up and the Indians aren't the first team (and aren't the first Indian team in the past few years) to get decimated by injuries. But it is becoming really frustrating to see someone going down with something week after week.
With the injury rant out of the way, why not just fast-forward to the eighth and ninth innings, when this all comes to ahead. Of course the Indians have multiple opportunities to score runs, why wouldn't they? In the eighth, they get first and second with one out. That is quickly turned into first and third with two out with a Lonnie Chisenhall groundout that is likely a double play if not for Asdrubal's hard slide into second base.
Then that opportunity ends with Carlos Santana striking out on a pitch that is tailing outside and above the zone. Seriously?
With Porcello long gone and the bullpen for Detroit pretty much emptied, it would be time for Jose Valverde, who they call "Papa Grande" around those parts, to come in and try to convert his 37th save in 37 opportunities.
Walk... Hit-by-pitch. A run is close to becoming a reality at this point, right? With Hannahan up, Acta calls for a bunt, something every manager would probably do with a .222 hitter at the plate, no outs, and the tying run on second and the go-ahead run at first.
Valverde has no control though and Hannahan gets himself into a 3-1 count. The thought process is simple, Valverde has to come to Hannahan with a strike. You either walk him or he bunts to get the runners over. Given the choice, Valverde is going to want the out.
So what do you do if your Acta? Do you go through with the bunt, take the guaranteed second and third with less than two outs or do you let .222-hitting Jack Hannahan swing away? If he swings and misses, a failed bunt on a 3-2 count will result in an out and the runners not moving. Sure, Valverde would have to throw a strike again, but that's taking a chance on Hannahan coming through.
And if Hannahan does come through, there's nothing to say Fukudome scores from second. So in the end, you end up with bases loaded and no outs. Still, a much better situation to be in, but still, the odds and the logic would be with Acta's decision to let Hannahan continue bunting with the 3-1 count. It's what I would have done, so I'm in no position to second guess Acta.
Especially since Hannahan did his job, the runners moved over and it was set up perfectly for LaPorta to just do something. He didn't even have to get a hit, he just had to hit a ball deep enough.
About that... LaPorta, as you can tell from the final score, didn't hit the ball deep enough. But if you didn't see things unfold, he did hit it. That is a plus. And another plus he hit into the outfield. The problem was that he hit the ball shallow enough to the point where it would take a horrible throw from Jackson for Fukudome to score. Not only did Jackson make a perfect throw to get Fukudome with steps to spare, he did it straight up on the fly coming in.
Here comes the second guessing game in regards to the coaching staff. Now this doesn't relate to Acta's call at all, because the manager isn't the one calling for Fukudome to go in this situation, the third base coach Steve Smith is. But, whether he agreed with it or not, Acta is of course going to defend his guy and the decision to send Fukudome in that situation.
If I'm Smith, my immediate thought is, "Oh my god, there is now way Fukudome scores." That's the life of a third base coach, they usually have to go off their instincts and first reactions. Those are usually fueled by homework, scouting reports, and knowing what your players are capable of.
This has nothing to do with Fukudome. He has decent speed, sending him becomes a calculated risk. I don't know much about Jackson's arm in center, but my initial thought from where he was going to catch that ball, is that if he makes a throw that is even a little off-line, Avila still gets Fukudome.
But Acta, again, defending the call and the reasoning was simple. Do or die...
"No guts, no glory," Acta said of Fukudome's sprint. "You have to do it."
It's a horrible way to end a game, but it is how the game ended and that was the call. You can look back to Jimenez maybe not imploding to the extent of eight runs, or that play with Jackson being called safe at second on the steal, or any of the other specific spots where a run was lost or gained. But for me, that's the situation that stands out most. I'd have held it and let Brantley come through with a hit because I feel my odds are better. Plus, if he gets a hit, it goes straight from being behind to being ahead as Donald will also score.
LaPorta put a pretty poor swing on a ball low and in. Matty is a strong guy, but that is the wrong pitch to be swinging at if you are trying to drive a fly-ball for a sacrifice fly.
And now, it's back to work, right Manny?
"We worked extremely hard for 10 days to shave the lead down," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "By having this rough series, we have to go back to work again. We're going to have to go home and start working again and try to shave it back to where we want it to be."
Travis Hafner's injury seems to be a question right now. When he held up, I thought maybe it had something to do with a hamstring or something. But he limped off on his own power, so it shouldn't be too serious. It's ruled as a right foot strain and he'll have an MRI today as the team comes home.
Hafner was fouling pitches off his feet a lot in that at-bat. Maybe that had something to do with it, but Bastian quoted Hafner as saying that he felt better after the game. We can only hope it isn't another disabled list situation.
"I think it's different. It's tough to say," Hafner said. "The first at-bat, I fouled one ball off my foot and one ball off my ankle. So my foot got a little sore and swollen. Just running to second base there [in the sixth], it just kind of gave out on me. We've iced it and it's feeling better."
Before that RBI hit, Hafner was 0-for-9 in the series with one walk and three strikeouts.
Also, Cabrera was 0-for-8 coming into the game and Michael Brantley was 1-for-9 with a double.
Did you know the Indians have just two wins in Detroit over the past two seasons? Me either, but thinking back, it makes sense, mainly because the last win in Detroit that I can remember specifically involved Casey Blake and television outage.
The Indians were 1-8 at Comerica last year, but 8-1 against the Tigers at Progressive and this year are 5-1 at home and 1-5 in Detroit. Weird.
Back to the Porcello throw at Cabrera... How is that fair to the Indians? They didn't throw at anyone and automatically a warning is issued? So basically, if the Indians were to do anything, their pitcher would get tossed. I don't understand why umpire's do the whole warning thing after that. If you really want to stop anyone from doing it, throw Porcello out from the get-go and you won't get it at all. Tell him he can't throw behind a guy like that and get away with it.
There is a real outrage right now with Ubaldo Jimenez, and quite frankly, it's getting a little ridiculous. If you don't think so, then we need to sit down and have a chat.
Here are just an assortment of comments from the MLB.com story and Twitter that I've collected on Ubaldo, and there are plenty of more.
"Turn out the lights the parties over! We trade top prospects that are doing well at their new locations for a guy that can't make it through 4 innings. Way to go tribe."
"why did we trade our young pitching prospects for a washed up guy who cant even pitch 5 innings. Big mistake!!! this is was all around a bad series. Just goes to show cleveland is not ready for the big show just yet. hopefully next year we will be fully ready."
"LESSON TO ANTONETTI: DO NOT TRADE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS TO A TEAM THAT REFUSES TO GIVE YOU ACCESS TO A PLAYER'S MEDICAL RECORDS AND WON'T AGREE TO A PHYSICAL"
"AnTWITnetti better start clearing out your desk and to think this will even look worse when White and Pomeranz are tearing it up in Colorado. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU"
"So wheres all the Indians fans that were so thrilled by the Jimenez trade? Alex White could have pitched a better game with his left arm than this stiff. As I have said in the past, I could have dealt with not making the playoffs this year, it's ruining the chance for the next several years that's upset me."
"So after Ubaldo's 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings do I STILL need to be patient before saying it was a STUPID trade?!?!?"
"Ubaldo Jimenez BLOWS.......this guy cant go more then 3 F-ing innnings.......WTF.......time for Football season!"
So there you go... Just a small sample of some of the outrage there is over Ubaldo Jimenez right now. Some of it with some reasoning, most of it irrational. In fact, all of it is irrational. Every single bit of it.
Simply put, it's been four games. Lay the heck off the guy. And lay off Antonetti. Oh for the love of it all, why is this fan base so irrational about one start? He got creamed, he isn't the first and he won't be the last pitcher to get creamed. Is it something an Ace should do? No, but I'm sure every starter has had a start like that at some point in their career.
Now, worrying about him after a few starts. A little understandable, but not a valid reason to bash the trade and say that it was stupid and to call for Antonetti's head. If I could say something for just a second, to a select few of those individuals who provided me with quotes for this section....
To the fellow who said that Antonetti needs to not trade his prospects to a team that "refuses medical records," perhaps he needs to "check his facts, before making asinine comments." Because in order for the trade to be completed, Ubaldo had to pass a physical from the INDIANS.
To the fellow who asked if he still needs to be patient after 3.1 innings and eight runs. Yes, shut your mouth and be patient.
To the fellow who said time for football season, enjoy the Browns and what will ultimately be another season that gives you nothing but more of the same. Truth.
Finally... Jump off the damn ledge everyone. This is a trade that was made for more than four games. If you start going crazy now, you are going to say something that makes you look utterly stupid. Regardless of how Ubaldo pans out, using four games for justification to hating a trade is irrational and it doesn't give you enough data to make a decision.
Drew Pomeranz just had an appendectomy, Alex Whit doesn't start til Tuesday for the Rockies.. TRIBE WIN THE TRADE! WAHOOO! YES!!! SUCK ON IT COLORADO!
See? I sound like a moron there.
Grady Sizemore is still in Cleveland rehabbing for a hopeful return in September. The timeline looks as such. Sizemore resumes his "game activities" by September and if all goes well, he could be in the starting lineup shortly after. That's a very vague and broad timeline, but with minor league games ending in very early September and rosters expanding, rehab assignments look like a very unlikely possibility for anyone at this point.
And the playoff race seems to be a dictating factor in that as well. If Acta feels like Sizemore can contribute without rehab, then he's going to come right back in and be thrown into the fire.
"I am anticipating him helping us out," Acta said on Sunday at Comerica Park. "Our main thing is try to finish strong this month and be as close or on top by the time that Grady can come in."
"Grady has 10 homers and 21 doubles and he wasn't even at the top of his game," Acta reminded. "We still have guys that barely have one home run more than Grady and have like 200 more at-bats than he has. That's how good he is. He had an OPS of over .750 hitting .237. So we are anticipating him coming in and helping us out."
That is a rather interesting way to put it in terms of the numbers. Sizemore definitely will help the lineup if he's healthy, but being healthy is the big question at this point.
Not much of an injury, but it has effected the roster. Ezequiel Carrera, who had been called down for the return of Shelley Duncan late last week, was recalled the next day with Duncan leaving the team. Of course, as a personal matter, the Indians will not comment on the situation, and the only thing Acta provided was that it is a medical emergency with his family. Duncan has to be inactive for three days, but can't be for more than seven.
Under the rules, the Indians were allowed to return Carrera to their roster despite getting optioned out just a day earlier. I'm sure Duncan will be back rather soon.
Caaaaaaaaaaw! Trevor Crowe is back in action. He hit a home run in his first game with the Arizona Rookie team and then hit another one on Saturday night. Definitely another possibility to be added to the roster once things expand in September.
No real update on Jason Kipnis right now.
With Jason Kipnis out, Luis Valbuena and Jason Donald will split time at second base. The two are being played based off matchups according to Manny Acta, but I'm sure you'll see a lot more of Donald against the left-handers primarily with Baby Louie going against most of the right-handers.
Jack Hannahan was at third on Sunday yet again because Lonnie Chisenhall has seemingly gone cold enough to warrant Hannahan's defense as a primary need. Can't argue there. Acta says that the best team out there is one that has Hannahan at third with groundball pitchers on the mound. The need for offense isn't as dire as it was when Chisenhall was called up.
"Look, nobody brought Lonnie up here to set the big leagues on fire," Acta said. "Lonnie was hitting [.267] at Triple-A when we brought him up. We all think that Lonnie is going to be a very good hitter and we all think that Lonnie is going to be a big part of our future.
"But at that point, when we made those moves, it was essentially because our offense was just flat-out stagnant with the loss of Grady and Choo and the struggles of Jack and Orlando."
Look (/Acta), he's not going anywhere. You aren't calling him down now, because he's here to stay. So go with what you have to go with for now and let Lonnie get some seasoning from the bench. That certainly can't hurt him if he experiences things.
As I mentioned earlier. Drew Pomeranz did actually undergo an appendectomy and is out for the season. Just to keep you updated on the Ubaldo trade parts. Alex White is actually slated to pitch for the Rockies on Tuesday after completing his rehab assignment.
[RAFAEL PEREZ TWEET WATCH]
Luke Carlin is keeping us abreast of the tally going on in the Columbus clubhouse. At last check-in, 14 people think David Huff's jeans are tighter than Chad Huffman's slacks.
Days Without a Tweet: 90
You can read more Morning Rundown and other features on Nino's blog, The Tribe Daily.