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Indians Indians Archive Morning Rundown: Big Willie Style
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

willsmithIn a game that featured a handful of oddities, including Justin Masterson’s final stat line and Luke Carlin’s day at the plate, there was one constant that reared its ugly head yet again. The Kansas City Royals started a left handed pitcher, therefore, the Indians lost.

It was a bad game for the Indians, one of their worst of the season. Coming off the heels of three real bad games in Chicago, the starting pitching is becoming a cause for concern as we get closer to closing the book on May and starting a new one in June.

May 29, 2012

Kansas City Royals 8

Cleveland Indians 2

W: Will Smith (1-1, first Major League win); L: Justin Masterson (2-4)

At the end of the main part of yesterday’s Rundown, I said that there was no word on if Will Smith would get jiggy wit’ it. He did, and it came at the Indians expense. After fighting with his command in the first inning and giving back the two-run lead that Mike Moustakas’s first inning home run gave him, Smith gave up two runs of his own. The Indians loaded the bases in the first with nobody out as Shin-Soo Choo walked and stole second, Jason Kipnis walked, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solid single to left. Jose Lopez followed with an RBI base hit just past shortshop Alcides Escobar’s glove and Michael Brantley knocked in another run with a fielder’s choice.

That was all the offense that the Indians would mount. Justin Masterson came out in the second and lit a four-alarm fire on the mound with his pitching performance, giving up five runs and effectively killing the chances of a lineup that featured Aaron Cunningham, Luke Carlin, Juan Diaz, the aforementioned Lopez in the cleanup spot, Mike Brantley batting fifth, a spot usually reserved for guys who drive in runs, and Lonnie Chisenhall against a lefty. Chisenhall ended the Indians only real threat, the first inning, by waving at three pitches that he couldn’t hit with a boat oar.

Masterson put up one of the strangest final lines I have ever seen. He managed to navigate through six innings, despite giving up seven runs over the first two innings. He struck out eight, didn’t walk a batter (for the first time all year), and gave up eight runs, seven were earned. He threw almost 70% of his pitches for strikes and threw more sliders than I ever remember him throwing in any of his starts. Pitch F/X data says that he threw 42 sliders that induced 13 swings and misses. And, yet, he got tagged.

The game featured two appearances from Royals manager Ned Yost, one to complain about a call at second base and the other to challenge a home run that was clearly foul.

carlinblowupIt was also a strange night for Luke Carlin. Carlin reached base three times in the game, all via errors. I was really hoping for a ground ball to short in his final at bat where Escobar threw it into the second row. Carlin reached on an E3, E4, and E5 in the ballgame, along with being charged with a passed ball that led to an unearned run. According to some research done by’s Jordan Bastian, Carlin is the second Indians player since 1960 to successfully reach base via an error three times in a game. The other was Walt Williams in 1973. So, at least when Carlos Santana comes back, Luke Carlin will have that for his MLB scrapbook.

Back to Justin Masterson and his unending struggles against left handed batters. Masterson got 15 swings and misses in his 112 pitches. Only four of them were by left handed hitters over the 51 pitches they saw as a team. If you’re curious as to why Justin Masterson has so much trouble with lefties, look at this Pitch F/X graph of his pitches to lefties in Tuesday’s game. Look at how many of those pitches are on the inner half of the plate. With the run on Masterson’s ball going away from lefties, he has a lot of trouble jamming them and getting them off the plate. His slider goes down and in to lefties, right in their nitro zone. Left handed batters absolutely love the ball down and in. They’re just a bad matchup for Masterson’s pitch movement.

It’s an adjustment that Masterson has failed to make and why the Red Sox considered Masterson expendable in the Victor Martinez trade. The Red Sox viewed him as a matchup reliever against right handed batters, aka, the role Joe Smith has for the Indians. The Indians have always viewed him as a starter, opting to deal with his bad L/R splits.

Masterson isn’t as bad as this season’s 5.14 ERA. Nor is he as good as last season’s 3.21 ERA. He’s somewhere in between. That’s not good enough for the Indians, if they want to consider him an ace. With Ubaldo Jimenez somewhere between the usefulness of a broken prophylactic and glasses for Stevie Wonder, Masterson has to be closer to last season’s pitcher for the Indians to really stay in this race.

He wasn’t tonight and it buried the Indians early.

Jeanmar Gomez will look to bounce back from a poor start last time out against the Chicago White Sox to help the Indians win the series on Wednesday afternoon. Bruce Chen takes the hill for the Royals. The Indians will get a much-needed day off on Thursday.


Random details...

Lonnie Chisenhall looked awful tonight in three at bats against Will Smith with two K’s and a chopper back to the mound. One of the reasons that Chisenhall was sent down to start the season was his struggles with left handed pitching. He still has a bright future, but it’ll always be a work in progress against southpaws.

It’s a random coincidence, but I can’t remember seeing it before. Every Indians hitter went to the plate exactly four times in the game as Juan Diaz, the #9 hitter, made the final out in the ninth. Not a useful stat by any means, but in a game like this, you look for anything of interest.

Mike Moustakas had four RBI in the first two innings tonight. The Indians 6-9 hitters, Aaron Cunningham, Chisenhall, Carlin, and Diaz, entered the game with three RBI combined. In their defense, Chisenhall, Carlin, and Diaz have only been up for a few games.

Tim Collins’s player profile says that he is 5’7”. I call BS.



According to reporter Jordan Bastian, Juan Diaz could be seen saying goodbyes to his teammates following the game. With Asdrubal Cabrera returning to the lineup as the DH on Tuesday, it looks like he’ll be ready to go back to the field on Wednesday. The Indians are expected to call up another reliever for the bullpen.

With the loss and the White Sox win, the Indians fell out at least a share of first place for the first time since April 24.

Manny Acta, never one to keep his feelings to himself, said after the game, “That had to be the most boring game I’ve ever been a part of.” As somebody who was there for all nine innings, I concur.



AAA: The Clippers fell again to the Buffalo Bisons 3-1, as they managed just five hits. Leadoff man Ezequiel Carrera and #2 hitter Jason Donald had four of them as the rest of the lineup combined to go 1-for-24. Eric Berger pitched 5.2 solid innings, striking out six and getting a no-decision. Dan Wheeler didn’t give up any runs, surprising himself and everyone else in the ballpark.

AA: The Aeros returned home and shutout Bowie 3-0. Our old friend Josh Barfield went 0-for-4 batting leadoff and playing left field for Bowie. Starter TJ House battled with his control, walking four guys in five innings but picked up his fourth win. Jose De La Torre, Bryce Stowell, and Preston Guilmet pitched 3.2 hitless innings in relief.

High-A: The Mudcats snapped their six-game losing streak in dominating fashion, blowing out Wilmington 11-3. Tony Wolters, Jesus Aguilar, and Jeremie Tice combined to go 9-for-15 with seven RBI.

Low-A: The Captains dropped a tough one to the Lansing Lugnuts 10-9 as both teams traded punches over the first four innings, scoring 17 of the game’s 19 runs. Every Captain recorded a hit in the game.



Justin Verlander lost consecutive starts for the first time since April 11 and 16, 2011. So, baseball went the way it usually does, as the Tigers swept the Twins last weekend in games started by Drew Smyly, Rick Porcello, and Max Scherzer, and then lost the first two in Boston that were started by Doug Fister and Justin Verlander. This is further proof that the Twins should be relegated to Triple-A and that the Sox are probably better than the .500 team that they’ve been so far.

The Tigers are now four behind the Indians and four-and-a-half behind the division-leading White Sox.

I'm pinch hitting for Nino Colla this week, but you can find my weekly Saturday column, View from the Porch, right here at 

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