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The B-List: 9/29-10/1
The B-List: 9/29-10/1
The final B-List of the year. And big, big ups to Buff for producing what I truly believe was the best daily Tribe column on the web. It became the very face of this website over the summer, and one of our most read columns every day. It's gonna be weird logging on each day without this column to read, and here's to a happy detox period for the very talented Steve Buffum. Click on Buff's name to help thank him for his efforts thus season.
It's nice to end the season on a high note, even if it's only high to Barry White.
1) Ending with a flourish
Cliff Lee threw the first nine-inning complete game of his career in throttling the Devil Rays Sunday. He hung around in the strike zone (83 strikes in 120 pitches) and struck out 7 against 2 walks and 7 hits. All three Tampa runs were scored on their two home runs, and in all likelihood, has this not been the last game of the season, it's hard to imagine Erci Wedge wouldn't have called for a reliever in the 8th or 9th. Since it was the last game, Wedge "rewarded" Lee with the chance to close it out, and he did.
There are a couple encouraging things from this: one, Lee faded badly in 2004, and has now shown that he can get through the major-league season in tact. He topped 200 innings for the first time, and finished strongly enough to go 4-1 in September. In his last ten starts, Lee only gave up more than 3 earned runs twice. Complete game or no, he remains a 6-7 inning pitcher, but 200 innings is 200 innings.
Lee was also able to get on top of the ball a little better, inducing 11 ground balls to 9 fly outs: the fly ball tendencies still make him susceptible to the longball, as the two home runs help illustrate. That makes 29 for the season, which is ... well, not very good. Interestingly, Lee had better splits on the road, yielding a .738 OPS to hitters there while giving up an .814 OPS at home. Although his GB:FB ratio ended up to be "only" 0.706, there were 13 starts in which he gave up at least twice as many flies as grounders. I'm sorry, unless Lee suddenly adds 5 MPH or a hop on the fastball, that simply won't do. He only struck out 5.79 per 9 IP, for Pete's sake.
2) Walk this way!
The Indians sure know how to run a dramatic ninth-inning walkoff victory! The key is not to touch the ball.
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