The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 6/1
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum

The Indians finish a six-game road trip through the A.L. East by going 3-3, and last night’s early offensive explosion offset the late-game pitching histrionics with room (4 runs’ worth) to spare.  In today’s B-List, Buff considers the extra-base-osity of quasi-Ace Josh Tomlin, the power of Mighty Asdrubal Cabrera and the rest of the lads, and wonders if everyone, including the players trying to catch the balls, had one eye on the Stanley Cup opener.  Put it this way: had Roberto Luongo or Tim Thomas tended goal like these two played defense, it would not have been a 1-0 game.
















Indians (33-20)













Blue Jays (28-28)













portsmashW: Tomlin (7-2)              L: Drabek (3-4)


It always SOUNDS like a good idea to “just throw strikes and attack hitters” with a big lead.  Until you do it and they clobber you, that is.


1) “Keep ‘em off-balance” starts with “keep,” Josh


Remember the ridiculous 19-run outburst the Indians put up against Kansas City a couple weeks ago?  Remember who the beneficiary of that one was?


Last night’s game started much in the same manner, with starter Kyle Drabek getting yanked after giving up more hits, runs, and walks than outs recorded (3, 4, 3, and 2 respectively).  Not satisfied with a sizable lead, the Tribe stretched it into a preposterous lead in the 3rd by banging out 8 MORE runs with the help of some very Toronto defense along the way.  Meanwhile, just as he had in the KC game, Josh Tomlin just kept plugging along, retiring the sides and tossing 4 shutout innings en route to another laugher.


A funny thing happened on the way to the laugher, though.  After recording five swinging Ks over a span of 8 batters across the second through fourth innings (including Jose Bautista to start the 4th), and sailing through the 4th on a mere 7 pitches, Tomlin seemed to lose some of his bite or something.  Since I don’t know how Josh Tomlin gets batters out, I’m not entirely sure what it is that he loses when he fails to do so, but in the 5th inning, Tomlin managed to give up three consecutive TRIPLES, the first time this has happened in the majors in THIRTY YEARS.  These were not odd-bounce triples, either: Random Beer Park in Toronto has smooth, rounded outfield walls and artificial turf: no, they simply clobbered those baseballs.  Eric Thames, Rajai Davis, and … Jayson Nix?  Are you f&#*ing kidding me?  Jayson Nix?!  Great googly moogly.  Anyway, it’s hard not to score from third on a TRIPLE, so that was two runs right there; an infield single by Corey Patterson produced the third run of the inning with two outs before Tomlin got Bautista to line out.


Not quite done with the extra-base shenanigans, Tomlin allowed a three-run bomb by Davis in the 6th.  Davis is now slugging .396 on the season.  For reference’s sake, this is a lower SLG than Mike Brantley and Davis has a lower ISO than either Brantley or Jack Hannahan.


I had made an offhand comment in email this weekend that Tomlin’s “wretched worst start of the season” against Tampa, in which he allowed a pair of two-run homers, may have showcased his vulnerability to the longball, but also featured him giving up FOUR RUNS.  Four.  That’s it.  That qualified his start as a horrifying disaster.  This is the standard we’re holding Josh Tomlin to.  One run short of a Quality Start.  This may say more about the Quality Start as a stat than it does about Josh Tomlin, but still, that’s a pretty high standard.


And make no bones about it: Tomlin’s first four innings were just short of brilliant.  He gave up a walk and a single and collected four swinging Ks.  A 7:1 K:BB ratio in 6 innings is great.  63 strikes in 93 pitches is great.  8 hits isn’t bad.  But it’s the same old song with Tomlin: 4 of the 8 hits were for extra bases, and when three of them chained together or there were guys on base for the longball, that adds up FAST.  Tomlin got TWO groundball outs.  Two.  For the record, I totally agree with and endorse the principle that a pitcher should absolutely attack the strike zone with a big lead.  He gave up four monster blasts and the Jays still didn’t come within 6 runs of him.  I applaud a guy for not nibbling and shrugging off some stat lumps because the game is still comfortably in hand.  But Tomlin is most successful when those occasional extra-base hits are … well, a) occasional and b) with the bases empty.


2) Too many Fredos


I like that the bullpen members have banded together, calling themselves the “Bullpen Mafia.”  It shows a certain esprit d’corps.  A one-for-all, all-for-one mutual thing in which excellence begets (and demands) continued excellence.  It’s good.


Truthfully, Chad Durbin didn’t pitch badly at all.  Mike McCoy’s single was a bloop.  Adam Everett butchered a ground ball.  But he did uncork a wild pitch, so his run was not ENTIRELY unearned.  Flat Frank Herrmann allowed a four-pitch walk to a righty he should be attacking, and gave up a single after turning a 1-2 count into a 3-2 count.  And Raffy Perez … well, Raffy reminds me of no one so much as Stacey Augmon, all arms and legs and you can’t get anything past him.  He’s a surprisingly athletic fielder.  But after walking McCoy, he turned a potential double play grounder into men on 1st and 2nd with a bad throw, then uncorked a wild pitch of his own to make Bautista’s single a two-run affair instead of one.


And then the VFP came in, struck out two batters along the way, and ended the game.  But geez, that wasn’t a mafia-type brutal efficiency as much as it was simply brutal.


3) Everybody hits!


On the way to collecting 18 hits, every Cleveland starter got a hit except Carlos Santana, who walked three times and scored twice.  Six Indians had multiple-hit games, and five different Cleveland batters smacked an extra-base hit.  Both of these sets included Jack Hannahan.


4) Now starting for the American League at shortstop, some guy from Michigan


It’s never too early to start gripping about the injustice of All-Star voting by the fans!


Well, yeah, actually it is, and the argument is pretty tired anyway.  People vote for whom they vote for.  The concept of an “All-Star snub” is barely interesting, but yelling at the Great Unwashed for being the Great Unwashed is like getting mad at your cat for hacking up a hairball.  The cat licks fur off its body, what are you expecting to happen?


Still, a word should be said on behalf of Asdrubal Cabrera, who is having a magical third-season thus far: not only is he hitting .306 with a .360 OBP, Cabrera is slugging .534, which is simply outstanding, especially for a middle infielder who can actually play.  (I will not bore you with Derek Jeter’s numbers.  They’re not as good.)  Cabrera smashed three doubles last night, part of a 4-for-6 night in which he scored twice and drove in three.  His 39 RBI this season are already 10 more than he collected all last season (in 400+ plate appearances).


Some people I respect have opined that Alexei Ramirez is clearly a better defensive shortstop than Cabrera: I don’t watch Ramirez enough nor understand defensive statistics like UZR or Dewan +/- well enough to make any grand pronouncements.  Ramirez may indeed be better than Cabrera, and it may be a sizable gap.  I don’t happen to believe that, but accept that others might.


Regardless, Asdrubal Cabrera is having the best season of any shortstop in the American League.  He should play more innings in the All-Star Game than any other shortstop in the A.L.


5) Port Smash!


The one home run I will always remember before all others in Toronto was a blow by Jim Thome, which caromed off the window of the restaurant out in center field.  Thome may have hit that ball as far as any I’ve ever seen while it was happening.  SkyDome Restaurant jokes still use Jim Thome as their foil, as far as I’m concerned.


(In case you’re wondering, yes, I remember that one before Joe Carter’s blast off Mitch Williams.  I was rooting for the Phillies in that series.  Carter’s was more meaningful and dramatic.  Thome’s was more awesome.)


So I’m not going to go comparing Matt LaPorta’s shot in the 3rd inning to the blow by Thome: it wasn’t as impressive, and it didn’t go as far.


But he hit that ball a looong way.


(He also went 3-for-5, scored twice, and drove in 3 runs.  Pretty good game, no?)


6) Comfort Zone Redefined


So maybe it’s not the DH thing that was making Grady Sizemore uncomfortable against Tampa.  Sizemore went 2-for-5 out of the 6 hole, including a bases-clearing three-run double in the first to help Drabek on his way.


Sizemore now has 13 doubles on the season: 19 of his 26 hits are for extra-bases, which is just flat-out absurd.  Of course, so is a 28:4 K:BB ratio, but hey.


7) Stats Corner


Fellow Twitterer @ReasonsImADrunk asked the following question last night, while Carlos Santana was being walked the umpty-umpth time: what is the record for a qualifying hitter in a season for the thoroughly artificial construct stat (OBP-AVG)/AVG?  That is, sort of the “isolated walking” number compared to his average?  Lots of guys can draw a lot of walks for a high OBP-AVG, but how many of them also sport pretty low batting averages?  Right now, Santana sits at (.138)/(.224), which is about .616.


I have no idea, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t mean anything anyway, but … damn, Carlos Santana sure gets thrown a lot of pitches out of the strike zone.


8) Hilarity at the ballyard


Shin-Soo Choo hit a line drive to Rajai Davis in center, who … simply did not catch it.  I have no other explanation for this.  I would love to make up some amusing anecdote about Davis and depth perception and childhood trauma and perhaps some Pavlovian Response Theory, but Davis … I dunno, man, that was just poor.


Yoon Escobar, however, dropped a pop-up that Jhonny Peralta would have caught.  That’s all I need to say about THAT.  Heck, Orly Cabrera would have … well, hold that thought.


9) Late to the party


As Paul Cousineau points out, he has been banging the Cord Phelps Drum for over a month now, at least since April 27th publically.  Frankly, that looks awfully good right now, and kudos to him for having that much foresight.  Me, I was pretty giddy in April and didn’t really want to mess with this whole “winning thing” I had forgotten about.


The fact is, Orly Cabrera has not been playing well recently.  He is hitting poorly and has made several errors in recent weeks.  His range is diminished.  He’s not very good.  I’m sure he’s a tremendous clubhouse asset, and frankly, if his advice made even a small contribution to Asdrubal Cabrera’s breakout season, he’s already been worth the price of his contract.


It’s just that I read something like this from the AP writeup:


Indians INF Orlando Cabrera got the day off after five straight games on artificial turf.


Yeah, I’m sure it was the artificial turf that was the determining factor there.  Not the badness.


In all seriousness, it probably WAS the artificial turf.  When I had knees, they used to hurt after playing basketball on asphalt, and I’ve been on turf before: it’s kinda the same thing.  There’s a little more padding, but professional athletes run a lot harder than I did playing shooting guard at lunch with engineers.  And hey, Adam Everett stepped in with a 2-for-5 night that shocked pretty much everyone I know who has seen Adam Everett wield a bat.


But here’s the thing: I think this team needs Orly Cabrera.  A valuable veteran clubhouse asset steadying influence intangible blah blah blah who understands when Manny Acta makes a Captain Kangaroo joke.  OR it needs Adam Everett.  Does it really need BOTH Orly AND Everett?  Again, up to this point it didn’t make much sense to mess with the chemistry of the team.  At some point the Indians will probably need their second baseman to play really well for a stretch, and I don’t think either man is capable of playing really well for a long stretch.


Here’s the thing: contrast this to third base.  I am satisfied with third base.  I may be in the minority, but I don’t think Lonnie Chisenhall is ready to play every day in the major leagues.  I think Lonnie Chisenhall will hit well in the majors in his career, and I’m of the opinion that you should call a guy like that up ONCE.  Call him up when he’s ready to contribute, and let him play.  Is 2011 that year?  Hey, it could be.  I don’t think it is.


In the meantime, Jack Hannahan really isn’t a very good hitter.  With a bat, he’s kind of a putz.  But I said at the beginning of the year that while I would prefer someone who was good in all phases of the game (hey, who wouldn’t?), I would SETTLE for someone who could FIELD THE DAMNED POSITION.  With a staff of groundballers and a sour taste from 2010 in my mouth, I said I’d sacrifice offense for defense AT THAT ONE POSITION, until Chisenhall was ready, and by golly, I’ll stick to it.


At 2B, though?  Well, if Orly were slick-gloved and weak-sticked, that’d be one thing.  If Everett was super utility at three positions, that’d be another.  Neither thing is really true.  So the questions become, would it hurt Phelps’ future if he came up but didn’t play every day?  Would he likely perform better than Cabrera offensively AND defensively?  Could Cabrera play short and third any more if he became the utility guy?


Anyway, it’s probably time to at least explore it.


By the way, I view Jason Kipnis in the same light as Chisenhall, which is why I mention Phelps for 2011.

The TCF Forums