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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 6/13
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum
The Indians scored a run!  Huzzah!  Ending a road scoring drought that spanned almost 3 full games worth of innings, the Tribe managed to do something it hadn't since 1997: win a game in Miami.  In today's B-List, Buff praises David Dellucci's sparkling night, explains the origins of the term "fungus," and explains why this is inadequate for one of Cleveland's players, all in preparation for tonight's thrilling Dontrelle Willis versus Mumble Mumble matchup.  It's the B-List, and you're not.
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Marlins (32-34)300000000382

W: C. Lee (3-4) L: Kim (3-3) 

If you love rousing, well-executed offense, this is not the series for you.  However, if you prefer crisp, well-executed defense, this is also not the series for you.  And, given the attendance, it is also not the series for residents of the greater Miami area.  So I'm wondering, for whom are these games being played?  The answer, of course, is "David Dellucci's immediate family." 

1) There you go again 

Cliff Lee's first inning was one to forget.  Or, actually, it looked very much like the other large pool of innings I'm trying to forget Cliff Lee threw, except that he didn't give up a home run.  Instead, the big blow was "merely" a double, which ended up having the same net effect, as it drove in two baserunners (one single, one walk) and the man who hit it subsequently scored on a double-play grounder after stealing third.  After one inning, Lee found himself in a 3-0 hole despite giving up only two hits.  Of course, part of this was self-inflicted, as he also walked two batters and had three-ball counts on four of the six hitters he faced in a 28-pitch forced march of a first inning. 

In Lee's next four innings of work, he gave up 4 hits and 2 walks to go with 6 Ks (4 swinging, although Florida starter Byung-Hyun Kim struck out bunting foul: not sure how to count that).  Of course, that included a hit in each inning, a hit batsman (we'll get to that later), a runner in scoring position in each inning, a batter thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, and a wild pitch, so this was not the sharpest outing in Lee's repertoire.  Lee's control was not too good, with 53 strikes in 91 pitches, and of course walking nearly a guy an inning (exactly a guy an inning if you count the HBP) isn't conducive to an extended run of success.  But the strikeouts suggested that he was getting some good movement on his pitches, and although Florida is not a strong offensive team (four players with averages over .260 got a third plate appearance: Aaron Boone's .263 actually made him their fourth-most effective offensive weapon), Lee did pitch four scoreless innings to go with the six Ks. 

It is here that I would normally pull out a pithy old bromide about how a tenacious pitcher showed significant moxie in "winning without his best stuff," but really, the way that Lee has pitched this season, who's to say that this wasn't his best stuff?  He kept the ball in the park.  He struck out six guys.  He really only made one pitch that hurt him badly (the two-run double).  This isn't to say he didn't have other pitches that were hit well: he gave up doubles to Miguel Cabrera and Jeremy Hermidia and a single off the wall to Hanley Ramirez that required a great throw from Dellucci to turn into an out instead of a fourth double.  It still concerns me that half of Lee's hits went for extra bases, continuing a pattern.  But he actually had a positive GB:FB ratio (5:3) and accomplished those other things: I think it may be worth considering the idea that this is, in fact, what we're going to have to consider Cliff Lee's "stuff" to be. 

Lee also struck the ball with a bat, which I did not think him capable of.  That's neither here nor there, but I thought I'd mention it. 

2) Nice hose! 

David Dellucci got the start in left field and batted in the two slot because Eric Wedge hates my duodenum.  And it turned out to be a mighty fine thing he did, because in the fifth inning, Hanley Ramirez hit what appeared to be his second double of the night to the wall.  Dellucci calmly retrieved the ball and gunned down Ramirez sliding into second, which became important since the next batter was hit and the one following him was walked.  Instead of bases loaded and one out, Hermidia flew out to end the inning with runners on 1st and 2nd.  This arguably saved at least one run. 

There's not much of an argument about saving a run in the sixth, though: with two outs and a man on first, Reggie Abercrombie laced a double to left that Matt Treanor tried to score on, and he was thrown out on the strength of the throw from left-center by David Dellucci.  Not only did that save Treanor's run, but had Treanor scored, Abercrombie would have been at least in scoring position, if not third, with Dan Uggla coming to the plate.  This was all the more important in that it was the bottom of the inning in which the Tribe had scored all 6 of their runs up to that point (the only 6 runs scored in the 15 innings Cleveland has played in Florida this season), and preventing a momentum swing really helped immeasurably.  Okay, well, actually, it's pretty measurable: it saved runs and we won.  But it helped a lot. 

He may not be hitting, but these contributions in the field made ... what's that? 

3) The shot heard round the six other guys in the game thread 

Cleveland's sixth inning defied description, so naturally, I will describe it.  After Victor Martinez struck out, Travis Hafner singled to right and Jhonny Peralta doubled into the right field corner.  (By the way, down by three runs, I very much agree with the decision not to send Hafner, a slowish runner: every run is important, but we need at least three, not one.  Besides, I'm a little gunshy after watching Dellucci and Michaels get tossed out at the plate recently.)  Trot Nixon followed by hitting the first pitch ... 

... let's stop here for a moment.  Kim threw 67 pitches in the first three innings.  He ended up walking four guys.  He had a sequence in the previous inning in which he walked Grady Sizemore on four pitches and then started Dellucci off 2-0.  Kim is really only effective if he is in the strike zone, and he was not.  In fact, after three high-stress innings, the Indians had let him off the hook on seven pitches in the 4th ... including a first-pitch out by Trot Nixon!  You are hitting .246 but about .125 in June.  Why are you swinging at the first pitch?  Twice?!  Huff ... huff ... huff ... okay, I'm better now. 

In any event, Nixon grounded the ball to Uggla, who promptly threw the ball into the dugout for a two-base two-run error.  Woof, everyone makes a bad play now and then, I'm just glad we scored a damn run.  With Mike Rouse coming to the plate ... 

... let's stop here for a moment.  I understand that everyone needs a night off, and by golly you gotta play the utility infielder every now and again, but Mike Rouse has no utility and does not deserve to be in the infield.  He is a fungus. (*)  Congratulations, you have found a player that make me pine for Ramon Vazquez.  Mike Rouse is horrible.  And here he is, hitting in the coveted 8 hole in front of the pitcher (in this case, Lee, easily our most preposterous hitter).  You know, after the Florida series, we get to go back home, where you can use a DH and hide a guy like Rouse in the 9 slot as one consecutive automatic out instead of two.  Wouldn't that be preferable?  You know what, I'm not sure Rouse is even a fungus.  He may be a bacterium.  Wait, that's a bad thing to bring up in the city that brought you LeCharles Bentley and his Magic Staphalocuccus ... maybe a virus.  Perhaps a mineral.  He is feldspar.  Yes, I rather like that.  The feldspar.  Huff ... huff ... huff ... okay, I'm better again. 

In any event, Rouse lifts a bogus pop to right fielder Hermidia, who gives off a harsh CLANGing noise as the ball strikes the heel of his glove and dribbles out.  Nixon reasonably expected the play to be a routine out (did I mention it was MIKE ROUSE at the plate?  What other expectation would you have?) and only made it to third on the play.  Ryan Garko then pinch-hit for Lee, and his groundout scored Nixon from third to tie the score. 

At this point, Grady Sizemore came to the plate and Taylor Tankersley was summoned to face him.  Tankersley is a young left-hander: his WHIP is an atrocious 1.71 on the season, largely on the strength of giving up 12 walks (to go with 20 hits) in 18 2/3 innings.  Tankersley has the sort of "grip it and rip it" repertoire that made Bobby Witt interesting.  After going 0-2 to Sizemore, Tankersley threw a truly awful pitch that struck Sizemore in the back. 

Now, earlier in the game, Kim had hit Martinez and had thrown behind Dellucci (although the latter looked like it slipped: if it was sending a message, the message appeared to be, "Coating your pitching hand with cooking oil is counterproductive."), which is what led to Lee hitting Cabrera in the 5th.  And yes, Lee hit Cabrera.  So after this little exercise in quid pro quo, the home plate umpire warned both benches that there were to be no more shenanigans, and unfortunately for Tankersley, Truly Awful Pitching constitutes a shenanigan in Dade County, and Mr. T was ejected. 

Coming to the rescue at this point was O.F. (Original Fungus) Aaron Boone, who stood up for his pitcher and was rewarded with his own ejection.  Coming to the rescue at that point was Fredi Gonzalez, erstwhile manager for the Fish, who was rewarded with his own ejection.  And after much wandering around and yelling and near-interest by the crowd of hundreds, David Dellucci stepped in to face Lee Gardner, a journeyman in the Brian Sikorski mold, only the exact opposite, in that he had given up only one home run in 23 appearances spanning 28 innings.  (Sikorski was a lot more taterrific.)  After fouling off the 1-2 offering and taking a second ball, Dellucci hit his fourth home run of the season, a three-run job with two outs, which made the score 6-3 and effectively ended the game, as long as he went and played left field as well. 

On the night, Dellucci ended up just 1-for-3, but drew a pair of walks: a .600 OBP is pretty much what you want from your #2 hitter. 

4) For completeness' sake 

However, getting caught stealing by Matt Treanor, who raised his caught stealing percentage from 0.00% to 7.14%, in the first in front of Casey Blake (walk) and Victor Martinez (single) is pretty much execrable.  (Yes, Dellucci was the first man Treanor has caught this season after 13 straight failures.) 

5) Inexplicable 

With two outs in the 4th, Mike Rouse came to the plate, took strike one, fouled off strike two, and watched strike three baffle his crystalline brain.  I dunno, Kim still has a weird throwing motion, but watching strike three go by ... geez, I hate that. 

With two outs in the 5th, Casey Blake came to the plate with Grady Sizemore on third.  Sizemore had smallballed his way there on a walk, his 19th stolen base of the season, and a groundout by Dellucci.  Blake watched strike one, swung and missed at strike two, and watched strike three waft by him very much right through the zone. 

Now, I know Kim had good (if inconsistent) stuff last night as evidenced by the 8 Ks and the 5 shutout innings before the ludicrous sixth, but man, I'd prefer some other approach, okay? 

6) Managerial Back-Patters 

Tom Mastny was the first pitcher out of the pen to replace Cliff Lee.  Mastny's recent outings have been adventures in blunderbussery, as Mastny appears to have some sort of mechanical problem or vision problem or gambling problem that prevents him from pounding the strike zone as in months past.  (Before the lawyers come out, there is no evidence that Mastny has ever gambled and this was purely a literary device.  But his control has been awful.)  Mastny induced a 2-0 groundout, gave up a 3-2 single, got Joe Borchard to fly out on the first pitch, then yielded a 2-2 double to Reggie Abercrombie that resulted in Treanor being thrown out at home.  This isn't a tremendous inning, but it is a scoreless one, so good on Tom. 

In the 7th, Mastny appeared to have found something a little better: although Dan Uggla saw three pitches out of the strike zone and Hanley Ramirez saw two, they both struck out swinging: given the inaccuracy of the recent past, I'd have to infer more "good movement" than "pinpoint location."  Miguel Cabrera then watched foul straight 0-2 balls go by to walk, and that was enough for Tom. 

Here's what I liked about that: as long as Mastny was mixing in some strikes and inducing suboptimal swings, it's fine for him to stay out there.  As soon as he lost it, though, Wedge used a combination of Recent History, Situation, and Raw Brain Cells to conclude that it was time for Mastny to leave. 

Rafael Betancourt came in and threw two strikes to Josh Willingham, the second of which was popped up, to end the inning. 

7) So long and thanks for all the Fish 

Joe Borowski pitched a perfect ninth, striking out Abercrombie on three pitches and inducing a pair of popups to Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.  Although not a save situation, I appreciate the no-nonsense approach Borowski took, as well as the result. 

8) Box Score Follies 

It says that Travis Hafner went 2-for-5, and one of the hits was a sharp single that started the rally in the 6th.  The other single, however, was a popup that would have needed a gale force wind to blow it all the way to the pitcher's mound.  As Miguel Cabrera and Matt Treanor looked at each other instead of the ball, it dropped for an ersatz "single."  (Who is the official scorer in Florida, anyway, Mr. Magoo?) 

Victor Martinez was picked off second base.  Why Victor Martinez is taking a big lead off second base is an exercise left to the reader. 

Rafael Betancourt recorded one strikeout each with his arm and with his bat.  (At 7-3, it wasn't worth blowing our last available pinch-hitter in Kelly Shoppach, or getting cute by sending C.C. Sabathia up to hit.) 

Franklin Gutierrez is a fungus. 

(*) For the uninitiated, the term "fungus" comes from Matt Groening, who wrote in a "Life in Hell" comic some "fun science facts:" 

A ringworm is neither a ring, nor a worm.  It is a fungus. 
A puff adder is not fluffy, nor can it add.  It is a snake. 
(another one I forget goes here) 
A fish stick is neither a fish, nor a stick.  It is a fungus.

This amused me and still does, so I stole it.

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