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Indians Indians Archive Morning Rundown: A Royal Pain in the A
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

gomezstruggleThere’s an old adage in baseball, one that Manny Acta loves to use, that states “Momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” Seeing how Indians starters have posted an 11.89 ERA over the last six games, that doesn’t provide much momentum. There’s also a term called “regression to the mean”. That might be what we’re seeing from some of the starting pitchers.

May 30, 2012

Kansas City Royals 6

Cleveland Indians 3

W: Bruce Chen (4-5); L: Jeanmar Gomez (3-4); SV: Broxton (11)

“Regression to the mean” is an expression that a lot of baseball statheads like to use. It’s a principle that operates under the assumption that players are going to perform pretty consistently and big deviations, good or bad, from their career/projected numbers are bound to inch closer to the mean throughout the season. It basically serves as a mission statement for sabermetricians, the hardcore baseball stat geeks, because the numbers will almost always point out the red flags.

Jeanmar Gomez entered Wednesday’s start with a lot of them. In Gomez’s two previous years in the big leagues, he allowed 146 hits in 116 innings, 73 each season. In 2012, Gomez had allowed just 39 hits in 48 innings. After watching opposing batters hit over .300 against Gomez in his first 22 Major League games, it’s hard to imagine that the proverbial light would have come on for Gomez and he would suddenly become a very strong starting pitcher in 2012. Gomez ends the month of May with a 5.25 ERA after posting a 2.35 ERA in April.

After striking out two of the first three Royals to start the ballgame, Gomez tight-roped his way through second inning trouble, loading the bases on a hit by pitch, a single, a fielder’s choice with an out recorded at home, and then a bunt single, Alcides Escobar struck out to end the inning.

The Indians staked Gomez to a three-run lead by singling four times in the bottom of the second to score three runs, with hits from Shelley Duncan, Michael Brantley, Casey Kotchman, and Shin-Soo Choo. Gomez immediately gave the runs back in the top half of the third with a couple of doubles from Johnny Giavotella and Mike Moustakas and an RBI single from Jeff Francoeur. One has to wonder why, with first base open, a right handed hitter on deck and two outs, Gomez even pitched to Moustakas after starting the at bat down 3-0. Francoeur singled anyway, but it was still a head scratcher.

The turning point in the game came in the bottom half of the third. The Indians had the opportunity to answer Kansas City’s two-run top half, but Casey Kotchman struck out on a 3-2 slow curve from Bruce Chen, who has dominated the Indians since 2010, going 6-1 against the Indians. Yes, Chen throws with his left hand.

In the fourth, the Royals plated two more runs and the Indians never scored again. The Tribe had chances, as they ran themselves out of the fifth inning when Michael Brantley got picked off of first with Shelley Duncan on third. Duncan was eventually thrown out at home after a brief rundown. In the sixth, Johnny Damon accidentally singled to CF and then a Casey Kotchman pop up fell in between three Royals in shallow LF. Damon was thrown out at second and the inning fell apart. In the ninth, with a 6-3 lead, Royals closer Jonathan Broxton had command issues, walking Shin-Soo Choo, giving up a solid 3-1 single to Jason Kipnis, and walking Asdrubal Cabrera. Jose Lopez inexplicably swung at the first pitch and hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Broxton threw 21 pitches in his inning of work. Nine were strikes.

duncanfailSo, we’re left to spend Thursday’s off day looking at the worst stretch of baseball that the Indians have played. They’ve lost five of six and have looked like a trainwreck in the process.

Factor in the news that Travis Hafner will miss the next four-to-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to fix some fraying cartilage/a torn meniscus and it has been a really bad week for the Indians. No corresponding roster move has been made just yet, but before everyone gets excited about Matt LaPorta and his inflated AAA numbers, keep in mind that he has hit just .228 in May after a strong month of April where he hit .380. In 46 at bats where LaPorta has fallen behind in the count, 20 of them have ended in strikeouts.

In any event, it’s a really good time for an off day. The Indians played 30 games in 30 days this past month. They finished May by going 16-14, which is by no means great, but it’s good enough in the pathetic AL Central Division where a .533 winning percentage could make you a champion.

The Twins come to town this weekend for a three-game set and that’s a team you absolutely have to beat.


Random details...

Bruce Chen is now 6-1 with a 3.74 ERA against the Indians since the start of 2010. Furthermore, Chen is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA at Jacobs Field over since the start of 2010.

How about the Royals bullpen in this series? With all their hard throwers, the Royals pen threw 13.2 innings with an ERA of just 1.97 over the three games. Two of those runs were given up by Luis Mendoza, who was the long reliever on Monday.

If you’re looking for a reason to be hopeful, and after these last six games, we all are, the Indians are 4-2 following an off day so far this season.

For those of you who like to complain about Chris Perez in non-save situations, Vinnie Pestano struggled mightily in a non-hold situation in the eighth. He fought with his command, throwing 27 pitches and just 14 of them for strikes, giving up a run and walking two. There’s a different dynamic when having to protect a lead. Setup men aren’t immune to it either. Part of it is probably the inconsistent work for Pestano as the team has not needed his services much over the last week and his workload was limited in the middle portion of May, but it’s a whole different animal pitching in a low-leverage situation.



Ubaldo Jimenez, who was slated to start on Saturday, will have his start pushed back until next Tuesday in Detroit (writer’s note: L) to “work on mechanics and rest side that cramped out” in his last start, according to Manny Acta. It’ll take a lot more than three days to fix those mechanics.

Jason Kipnis stole second and third in the first inning today, bringing his stolen base total for the season to 11. With eight home runs already, Kipnis is poised to be the first Indian to go 20/20 (HR and SB) since Shin-Soo Choo in 2010 and the first Indians second baseman to do it since Robbie Alomar in 2001.

scottbarnesScott Barnes made his Major League debut and pitched a scoreless inning around a hit batter and a couple of walks. His first ML strikeout was Alcides Escobar. Barnes was acquired from San Francisco in the July 2009 trade of Ryan Garko.

Luke Carlin registered his first Major League stolen base. Man, am I scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to write about.

The Indians have, temporarily, gone unpunished by Royals pitchers for Chris Perez’s “You Can’t See Me” gesture during Monday’s Memorial Day victory. The teams won’t meet again until July 31, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s still an issue later in the year.

Umpire Bob Davidson went an entire series without calling a balk. That has to be some kind of record for him.

With today’s day game not on TV, I spent the day listening to Tom Hamilton. He has that unique Vin Scully/Bob Uecker ability to make an awful game worth listening to. The guy is so incredibly good at his craft. It’s something I have always known, but every time I listen to a game with Hammy, I’m in awe of the picture he can paint for people who have to visualize everything in their mind because they can’t see what he is seeing. The Indians really need to reward that guy with a World Series Championship to call the final out of. Granted, he may have a heart attack in the process (and let’s hope not), but it would, no doubt, be epic.



AAA: The Clip Show lost 3-2 in extras to the Bisons again and the Bisons will look for the rare four-game sweep tomorrow at 10:35 a.m. Matt LaPorta hit his 14th long ball in the loss and David Huff threw eight strong innings of three-hit ball, giving up two runs and striking out six. Columbus had just two hits.

AA: The Aeros had a 10:35 education day game for the schoolkids on a gorgeous afternoon in Akron and rolled over Bowie 9-5. Starter Giovanni Soto rolled through five excellent innings before getting tagged for five runs in the sixth and leaving after 5.2 innings with a no-decision. Bryan Price, the forgotten commodity in the Victor Martinez/Justin Masterson trade picked up the win in relief.

High-A: The Mudcats must like this winning thing because Tuesday night’s win that snapped a six-game skid was followed up by a 5-3 victory Wednesday. Francisco Jimenez, who might be a better option than Ubaldo Jimenez right now, notched his fifth W of the season with six solid innings, scattering seven hits. The Mudcats turned four double plays and Wilmington made five errors.

Low-A: The Captains were blanked by West Michigan 1-0 thanks to a complete game shutout from Whitecaps starter Thomas Collier. Joseph Colon, the Captains starter, gave up an unearned run and got the tough luck loss.



Doug Fister was placed back on the 15-day DL with another strain on the left side of his body. Fister, who was scheduled to start one of the games against the Indians in Detroit next week, has been replaced by some unknown left hander who is sure to throw seven scoreless innings against us.

The Tigers got swept by Boston, but is anybody else starting to get the feeling that the White Sox are the team we should be watching?


Finally, thank you to the readers out there who (hopefully) enjoyed my work during the absence of Nino Colla. Nino’s back in town this weekend, so he should be able to put together the recap of the weekend set against the Twins for you to peruse on Monday morning. Thanks to Nino for letting me fill in and hopefully he can bring better results as the Indians went just 3-6 during my pinch hit appearance.

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