The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 7/16
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum
What a bummer of a game last night.  The Tribe fell behind 11-2, then fought back valiantly, only to come up a run short.  Today's B-List is one of the funnier versions I've ever read.  Buff isn't happy about several of the managerial decisions that took place last night.  He's angry at Cliff Lee.  And Fredo Cabrera is dead to him.  It's the best daily Indians column in existence.  It's The B-List. 
White Sox (41-50)11000900011151
Indians (54-38)00020305010130

W: Danks (6-6)  L: C. Lee (5-6)  S: Jenks (25) 

Let's all welcome Eric Wedge for the NEXT THREE YEARS!  In fact, let's salute the team molded in his image by investigating exactly what kind of play we can expect through 2010! 

1) Can we skip to the middle? 

Cliff Lee's start was ... well, it was piss-poor.  When you put the first three guys on base, that pretty much defines poor.  When you do so by throwing 4 strikes and 8 balls in the first twelve pitches, that's stretching the definition.  When the four strikes consist of two watched strikes and two singles, and four of the balls are in a row to one batter, this screams, "I am inept, and would rather be playing cards in Arkansas." 

Fortunately, Lee settled down and escaped the inning after giving up only one run.  In fact, two of his out were recorded via swinging strikeout, so it was plausible to think that Lee simply needed to adjust to the long layoff as Westbrook and Carmona had.  After another pair of singles in the second, giving up one run on a groundout, and escaping via swinging strikeout again, hope still remained, but looked like it may have been misplaced. 

After that, Lee looked like a major-league pitcher: over the next three innings, one inning featured one single, another featured one walk, and the other was 1-2-3.  He wasn't particularly efficient, but ... well, he isn't.  He'd thrown 80-some pitches through five, but he didn't look like he was laboring, merely inexact. 

Then came the sixth, and the gremlins attacked the lug nuts: an 0-2 pitch to A.J. Pierzynski was smashed for a double, and a pair of 0-2 pitches to Jermaine Dye, hitting .229 this season, were fouled off and lashed for a single respectively.  So this is a bad sign: it is good to throw strikes at 0-2, as long as they are "pitcher's strikes" instead of "strikes A.J. Pierzynski can smash for a double."  But Lee has a history of turning into a newt and not getting better, so surely they've got someone up to replace him.  I mean, this is pretty much Lee's M.O. for the past few seasons, it's not like this is a surprise.  So as Rob mACKowiACK stops to the plate, at least we're safe in the knowledge that ... 

2) Hey, that's stupid! 

What do you mean, no one's ready?  Have you seen Lee's stats after the fifth inning?  After the 90th pitch?  Are we watching the same team here? 

As maddening as it is to give up two-strike hits, an RBI infield single to Rob mACKowiACK led to a sacrifice and an intentional walk to load the bases.  At this point, it's debatable that lifting Lee is the best option, since left-handed non-hitter Jerry Owens, hitting .237 out of the leadoff spot, is as likely to be retired by Lee as any. 

Owens singled in two runs.  Okay, that pretty much means Lee is done, really.  Still, there's one out, perhaps Lee can get out of this giving up 5 runs in 5 1/3, a bad start, but not disastrous. 

3) Hey, that's stupid!  

Fredo Cabrera came in.  Why is he no longer Ferd, or even Fernando?  Because he is dead to me.  I forsake you, Fredo Cabrera.  Get out of my life and do not come back. 

Cabrera's first pitch was a sacrifice fly. 

Cabrera's second pitch was a double. 

Cabrera's fifth pitch was his third strike.  It was a home run. 

So much for Lee giving up 5 runs: now it is 7.  And 2 of Cabrera's.  So Fredo doesn't have it.  Might as well ... 

4) Hey, that's stupid! 

But Cabrera continued to pitch.  Oh, yes, he continued.  Okay, well, Pierzynski is a left-handed, I guess ... no, that's still not a good plan.  He singled.  Well, Dye is at least right-handed, maybe he can ... no, that's still not a good plan.  He doubled.  And thus endeth the night for Cabrera, who ... 

5) Hey, that's stupid! 

... continued to pitch!  He got to pitch some MORE!  He threw two straight balls to mACKowiACK, then gave up a DOUBLE!  To Rob mACKowiACK!  Get him the f#%* out of there! 

6) We interrupt this stupid to bring you Jensen Lewis 

Jensen Lewis has a place on this team!  He can't throw strikes either! 

At least he was effective.  He got out of the sixth by whiffing Uribe after a walk, then walked two more in a hitless, scoreless 7th with another strikeout.  Lewis certainly has stuff.  Note that I have said the same thing about Fredo Cabrera.  Learn from this, Mr. Lewis. 

7) We interrupt this Jensen Lewis to bring you effective left-handed relief pitching 

Jason Stanford: 1 IP, 1 single, 2 K, 0 R. 
Rafael Perez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K. 

This message has been brought to you by the "What the @#%* was Fredo Cabrera doing pitching to left-handed hitters in the sixth inning after he showed he had nothing whatsoever" Society. 

8) And now back to our regularly-scheduled stupid 

One of the hallmarks of a well-coached team is that it leaps out of the box, ready to play.  For example, getting one hit in the first two innings.  Well, John Danks is a tremendous pitcher.  I mean, in a Cliff Lee run-an-inning sort of way. 

But at least the team was heads-up in the field: with runners on 1st and 3rd in the second, Jerry Owens rolled the ball to short, where Jhonny Peralta flipped it to Josh Barfield, who threw it to Lenny the Mole.  Lenny lives near the first base bag, a fair distance from the bag itself in an effort to avoid being trampled by large fellows like Ryan Garko.  Lenny has terrible hands, so Garko was forced to scoop up the ball. 

Barfield was so embarrassed by this throw, he redoubled his concentration to avoid covering second base as Owens stole second. 

9) That's not stupid, that's just crummy 

In the bottom of the third, Franklin Gutierrez started his Very Fine Day by lacing a double to deep right center.  Barfield then cleverly swung at two pitches well out of the strike zone to whiff on a full count, but Gutierrez took advantage of the ChiSox' collective disbelief at Barfield's negative black hole of Not Plate Discipline and stole third.  Grady Sizemore then took a ball and ... popped the ball straight up to foul out to the catcher.  Casey Blake then shrewdly grounded out to first. 

Sizemore's at-bat there was particularly frustrating: pretty much anything other than a pop up straight up would have scored Gutierrez on the play. 

10) Okay, well, that IS stupid 

The Indians got three runs back on a home run by Gutierrez in the 6th, then put together a rally in the bottom of the 8th.  Ryan Garko singled off the left-handed Matt Thornton, and Ozzie Guillen had seen enough, bringing in the right-handed Ryan Bukvich to face the obviously-platooned Jason Michaels.  Still, Michaels was allowed to hit (he's had a good six weeks) and singled to center.  (This is called "foreshadowing.") 

After a single, groundout, walk, egregious error, sac fly, and wild pitch, Travis Hafner singled off Switchblade Boone Logan to score Sizemore and Blake and make the score 11-10.  The Indians have had a couple hard-to-believe comebacks this season, and this would certainly qualify if they could score a couple more runs. 

To this end, Wedge brought in Ben Francisco to pinch-run for Hafner with two outs.  Now, I'm not going to tell you this is dumb in and of itself: Francisco is indisputably faster than Hafner, and anyone can DH.  Peralta has some pop and a bunch of doubles on the season.  Ozzie either has to leave Switchblade on the mound or bring in a rookie in Dewon Day. 

But here's the thing: it's the bottom of the 8th.  The likelihood that Hafner's slot is coming back around the horn is really, really, really, really small.  It would require significant rallies by BOTH the Indians AND the White Sox: if the Sox didn't score, the Indians could score two runs before getting back to Hafner's slot.  If they scored 1 and they went to extra innings, you could pull in a pinch-hitter later (say, Nixon or Francisco).  So you pinch-run Rouse there, not Francisco.  You aren't going to need Rouse's bat.  You might need Francisco's. 

11) Hey, that's stupid! 

Jhonny Peralta swung at the first @#%*ing pitch.  He grounded out to second. 

Now look: although I'm not quite a Plate Discipline Nazi, I'm at least on the right of Jacques Le Pen.  I cringe at swinging at the first pitch, but hey, guys get hits on first pitches.  They're professional hitters, I'm not.  Given a choice, you listen to the professional hitter. 

But if you ground the ball to second, that's not a pitch you can drive.  And if it's the first pitch you've ever seen from a guy, a guy who has thrown 9 1/3 major-league innings, a guy with a 5:7 K:BB ratio, a guy with a WHIP of 2.07 and an ERA over 10 ... you know what, you might want to go ahead and look at a couple, eh? 

12) Hey, that's stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid! 

Since Ben Francisco is in the lineup in the DH slot, if you want to pinch-hit for Jason Michaels against the right-handed closer Bobby Jenks, you are forced to use the right-handed Shoppach or dredge up Mossy Mike or Toasty Trot.  I mean, Michaels isn't actually a terrible choice to go ahead and let hit there: he'd gotten a hit off a right-handed in his last at-bat, and has at least as good stats hitting righties as Toast.  Francisco would have been a much much much much muchity much much muchly much better choice, but we'd already burned him. 

Trot Nixon struck out swinging in four pitches.  He swung once. 

Franklin Gutierrez, the next hitter, singled. 

13) Silver Lining Dept. 

Franklin Gutierrez went 4-for-5, hitting his fifth home run and coming up a triple short of the cycle.  He also stole two bases, scored twice, and drove in three runs (on the three-run homer). 

Victor Martinez hit a solo shot to break the shutout to lead off the 4th

Travis Hafner had a pair of hits and drew a walk. 

Casey Blake hit a triple, his third (!) on the season. 

Josh Barfield did not pour hydrofluoric acid on any small children. 

14) Pointed counterpoint 

Look, I understand that it's impressive that the team can fight back and doesn't roll over.  This is a credit to the coaching staff, including Eric Wedge.  But can't the team be ready to play from the FIRST pitch?  Isn't it more frustrating to be a good team with flashes of awful play than it is to simply be awful?  Wedge isn't the worst manager in the league (heck, while Buddy Bell lives, he's not the worst in the division), but boy howdy googly moogly me, I want "good" instead of "good enough."

The TCF Forums