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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 5/18
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum
Sweep! God we needed that. In today's B-List, Buff goes inside the numbers of yesterdays win over the Royals. He's got love for Casey Blake, hates on Aaron Boone, and examines the methods to Wickies madness.
 It's hard to take a staff with guys name Rune Elvis and Gobble seriously, but it is nice to go into interleague play with a three-quarter sweep in hand.  The question as to whether Pittsburgh is functinoally different from Kansas City has yet to be answered.

1) Being right is not as satisfying as you might think

If Cliff Lee had pitched six innings, he would have thrown 93 pitches, 62 strikes, given up 6 hits and 2 runs (1 earned), walked two and struck out seven.  It's not a great game (since it's only six innings), but certainly a quality one.  I really like the more-than-one K per inning.

Since Cliff Lee pitched six-plus innings (the accepted euphemism for "he came out for the seventh, but couldn't get anyone out"), Lee finished with 8 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs (4 earned).  It's not a great game, but certainly a crummy one.

Is it possible for a game to go from "quality" to "crummy" based on a single bad pitch?  You can't really say for sure since there were other variables involved, but at 0-2 to Reggie Sanders, Lee simply missed badly and Sanders (nothing if not an experienced hitter) made him pay with a two-run double.  Hey, after 100 pitches, making a mistake isn't totally unexpected.

I guess Mickey Ferguson put it best on another list I read: given Lee's history this season (please tell me the Indians are at least as good at trend analysis as I am), it would be foolhardy not to have someone (in this case Filthy Ferd) ready to go at the top of the seventh.  After the five-pitch walk and the double down the line, there are two scenarioes:

a) you think Lee can handle Reggie Sanders, a powerful right-handed hitter, better than Cabrera, because ... well, who knows why?

b) Cabrera wasn't ready, because ... well, who knows why?

In Wedge's defense (and Lee's, peripherally), Lee had just finished two hitless innings, the only baserunner on an HBP.  He looked solid, and 93 pitches is not onerous.  I'm just sayin': Cabrera had to have been ready, or that would be a problem, and if he was and wasn't brought in, well, that would be a problem.

By the way, Lee's GB:FB ratio was a preposterous 0.1 in this game.  He is trying to give me a heart attack.

2) An equitable distribution

Each Indians batter got a hit.  In fact, seven Indians batters got exactly one hit.  It's nice to have your top four hitters score, though: it looks like you know what you're doing.

3) All or nothing

Casey Blake extended his hitting streak to 15 games, including a bunt single and a two-run single.  The other two times he was up, eh, not so good: he struck out.  Both times he watched two strikes before missing the third, so I think this Plate Discipline thing is more ingrained than fadular.  Blake batted fifth yesterday, a much better use of him than the nine hole, especially with Victor getting a day off.

In all, 8 Indians and 12 Royals heard strike three land in the catcher's mitt, meaning that on average, each inning, at one point or another, greatly resembled Little League games of yore.  Except for the nine walks: we could give up nine walks in two-thirds of an inning.  I scoff at your lack of lack of control!  Feh!

By the way, inspired by Blake's example, Kelly Shoppach had a double (huzzah!) and two Ks (huzzah!).  Two Ks may sound bad, but at this point of this season, you could do worse than emulate Casey Blake.

4) Okay, I give up: what does he do again?

Aaron Boone made his seventh error on the season, putting him on pace to be Corey Smiff.  On the other hand, he is hitting right-handed pitching (the more sommon kind) at a .221/.287/.279 clip, with 0 HRs or triples and five doubles, putting him on pace to be Jerry Dybzinski.  I am not clamoring for the Andy Marte Era, since he himself is sucking pretty significantly in Beefalo, something Boone has never done, but I am beginning the clamor for the Someone, Anyone Else Era.  If it happens to be Marte, so be it.  Lou Merloni might work.  Boutros Boutros-Ghali, perhaps.  All I'm saying is that we're closing in on a significant sample size, and the sample politely whispers, "Suck."

For this, Boone had better be one very serious clubhouse leader, like he buys all the pizza and scrapes guys' cleats and the whole bit.  (I misspelled "impertinently screams" in the last sentence of the previous paragraph.)

5) The insidious threat

Long-time fans know what I mean by the term "Kenny Lofton Disease," in which the speedy leadoff center fielder cranks a couple of balls over the wall, forgets that he is, in fact, the speedy leadoff center fielder, and ends up with forty-three consecutive popups before remembering that, hey, he's not really a power hitter atter all.

Grady Sizemore is not Kenny Lofton, and does have some legitimate power, but I am too much a Cleveland fan not to have at least thought of the idea.  The home run turned out to be the winning run, so huzzahs all around, but ... it's just hard to suppress the reaction, y'know?

6) I never doubted them for a minute!

For several weeks, yes, but not for a minute: the bullpen threw 3 shutout innings to preserve the win, with Cabrera striking out two Royals, Sauerbeck striking out the pinch-hitter on four pitches, Betancourt throwing 22 of 24 pitches for strikes (2 hits and only 1 K, but one hit was an infield single and it was a shutout inning nonetheless), and Wickman Wickmanizing.  Yes, Ferd gave up the inherited run, but I am confident when I see any of Cabrera, Betancourt, or Wickman on the hill.

Sauerbeck ... come on, be honest, how many of you were sanguine about Sauerbeck facing Matt Stairs?  Anyone?  Credit where credit is due, as he did his job (well),   Kudos.  Now if only Wedge would call my cell phone when he gets 'beck up so I can take my acid-reducing medicine in time.

7) A madness to the method

Yes, Wickman gave up a hit and a walk, but I contend the walk doesn't really count.  After Mientkiewicz was sacrificed to second, Wickman saw first base open and decided he'd rather have Matt Stairs there than in the batter's box.  I know the box score doesn't say "IBB," but I'm telling you, it was an intentional base on balls.

Of course, he went 3-2 to the alien abduction version of John Buck (2 more hits) before punching him out, but it makes all kind of sense to pitch to Buck, even the abducted version, instead of Roly Poly Stairs.  I love Merely Big Bob.

8) Our ducks, they are dwarfed by your preponderence thereof

Leaving 8 on base, including 4 in scoring position, isn't very good.  Grady himself saw three of the four die.  But the Royals left thirteen on base, including a mind-boggling eight in scoring position.  Think about that.  That's basically one an inning.  In scoring position.  That's so bad it ... reminds me of the Indians.  (That's bad.)

9) Well, it wasn't really that many

Sure, we left 8 and 4 out there, but only because we had TWO GUYS THROWN OUT AT HOME.  That's doubleplus ungood.  You know Jason Michaels' arm is in OUR outfield, right?

10) I am ready for the "infield singles" to stop

Really.  Any time now.

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