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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 6/23-6/25
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum
In the Monday edition of The B-List, Buff recaps the weekend series with the Reds, which provided less scoring than the World Cup games played over the same stretch. Buff also gives his unadulterated thoughts on Jeremy Sowers, Brandon Phillips, and the Broussard benching. Buff also attempts to make sense of his Rafael Perez Man Love (tm), which is starting to reach uncomfortable levels.
It's sobering to realize that the reason the Reds won this weekend's series is most likely because they'll better than the Indians.  It's been a while since I've had to admit that.

1) The arm is very good, but the mouth still malfunctions

Boy, Paul Byrd sure pitched a great game Saturday night.  He threw almost 72% strikes and walked nobody.  He struck out only 4, but offset that by only allowing 5 hits, only one of which was for extra bases (Ryan Freel's double).  His GB:FB ratio look like something from the Cliff Lee Handbook (4 GB, 16 FB), but it's hard to look more "in control" that Paul Byrd did in his 8 shutout innings.

And then he has to say something like this: "I think we can get on a roll.  We have the type of team that can win 16 of 17.  We can do that."

If I admit I chopped off the front and the back of the quote (which is in the AP writeup if you think I've butchered the context, which I haven't), will you admit this is a pretty asinine thing to say?  Paul, your win "raised" us to 33-40.  We play bad baseball.  We have crummy defense, half the team is likely to get traded, and rookies like Franklin Gutierrez have looked so impressive they let Joe Inglett start for him.  The last time we heard from Mr. Byrd, he was taking full blame for a game that he was not responsible for losing.  While I admire the attempt at leadership (in that case taking accountability, something Ben Broussard could learn about; in this case, positive reinforcement and encouragement), it doesn't count as inspiration unless it is vaguely plausible.  The gaping mouths you saw at the press conference from people who have followed the team all you would be your tipoff that, in terms of plausibility, your statement fell somewhere in the "the CIA is listening to my conversations through bugging my fillings" range.

2) Welcome to the bigs, kid!

Jeremy Sowers' debut was not the stuff of dreams, but it did look like the stuff of pretty goodness, which is a step up from the stuff of Jason Johnson.  He certainly sailed through the first three innings, giving up one hit and striking out two.  In fact, after three outs in the air in the first, the next six outs came either on the ground or in the catcher's mitt, so perhaps he made an adjustment.  (Or perhaps we're talking about molecular sample size.)

And then Sowers learned two powerful lessons:

a) Please try not to walk guys in front of the power hitters
b) Lefty-righty splits are not interesting to fellows who can hit mistakes a really long way

There's no point in harping on it: the fact that Dunn was swinging 3-0 was kind of encouraging, in that he believed Sowers would be around the plate, and he didn't believe he was going to get more than one or two hittable pitches in the plate appearance.  But falling behind to a man the size of Charles Oakley is not really a good career move.  Anyway, he pitched well enough that I consider him a fixture in the rotation at this point.

3) Hey, we had one of those!

Brandon Phillips got on base in each of the three games, banging out a pair of hits and scoring on Griffey's shot after walking.  He also had a nifty play doubling Sizemore off second on a line shot and laid down a sacrifice, which distinguished him from nine-tenths of the Cleveland roster.  He is now hitting .310.

When your manager cannot get along with a ballplayer, it is often the case that the ballplayer must be moved.  There is another option, though, which, in retrospect, I would have liked to have explored: namely, the opposite course.

4) Offensive explosion at the Jake!

The three games ended up 3-0, 4-0, and 4-2, meaning watching Germany in the World Cup provided a more interesting offensive show (although Vic's foul ball on Sunday could be considered the moral equivalent of striking the crossbar, something the Dutch did with aplomb yesterday).  Sure, I love a good pitcher's duel as much as the next guy, but ... shouldn't ONE game feature more than 6 aggregate runs?  Oh, by the way, of the thirteen runs scored, seven were driven in by home runs.  That's kind of like bowling a 130 with five strikes: it's certainly possible, but not a particularly satisfying use of resources.

5) Cliff Lee is safe ... for now

I really like Rafael Perez.  I really, REALLY like Rafael Perez.  I would not know Rafael Perez if he shaved my head in a taxicab, but I very much enjoy seeing Rafael Perez' name in the box score, because it's always accompanied by all this little round things.  Boy, I like Rafael Perez.

6) Who are you, and what have you done with Rafael Betancourt?

It wasn't that long ago (wait ... maybe it was.  This season is going by very slowly.) that I would refer in an offhand way to the fact that of the N pitches Betancourt threw, N-2 of them were for strikes.  Death, taxes, Carrot Top not funny, Betancourt throws strikes.  So naturally, given a shot at showing the setup form he had earlier in the year, he spews forth an outing in which 19 strikes and 17 balls come out.  There wasn't any damage, but 2 walks and a hit in 2 innings of work is dangerously close to Guillermo Mota territory.  Let's nip this in the bud, please.

(In the interests of fairness, the Cleveland bullpen pitched 8 scoreless innings over the series, which is really very nice.  I appreciate it, guys.)

7) Who are you, and what have you done with Really Big Bob?

A perfect inning?  What the hell is that?  Does it even count as Bob Wickman if it doesn't involve needless baserunners?  Or is that only in save situations?

8) Hey!  It's like this, you turkeys!

I can imagine Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner saying this to their anemic teammates, as they had at least one hit in all three of the games.  Sizemore clocked a homer and a double, while Hafner was "limited" to 4 singles and a double.

One guy that was listening?  Jhonny Peralta, also with at least one hit in each game.

One guy not listening?  Please.  Do I have to pick only one?  Consider that when Franklin Gutierrez pinch-hit for Joe Inglett, his batting average was 115 points higher, but barely half of Kelly Shoppach's, which is terrible.  And higher than Todd Hollandsworth's.

Did you ever think you would say, "Well, of course the offense is struggling, we really miss Casey Blake."  Ever?

9) Blood on the sand!

Ben Broussard has been benched, ostensibly to let Shoppach catch and Martinez play more first base.

I smell a wazoo coming.  They better handle this one better than Phillips, that's all I can say.

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