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Indians Indians Archive Morning Rundown: A Clutchdrubal Kind of Night
Written by Nino Colla

Nino Colla

CabrerawalkoffAnd that is why you support your guy....

June 19th, 2012 (F/10)

Cincinnati Reds - 2

Cleveland Indians - 3

W: Nick Hagadone (1-0) L: Arolids Chapman (4-3)


And just like that, first place!

A lot of things can change in one night and a lot of change can happen in one night. Exactly what happened Tuesday night. But more on that much later in this Rundown.

Well you can take that 101 mph fastball and firmly stick it into right field, section 107. I think that's where Cabrera's game winning two-run shot ended up. Heeeeeeee's back! The man we call Clutchdrubal Cabrera made an appearance, lifting the Indians from their likely doom at the hands of the hard-hurling Arolids Chapman.

"In that situation, I'm not thinking to pull the ball," Cabrera said. "He has a really good fastball. It's tough to pull that ball. I'm just thinking, 'Hit the ball the other way.'" 

Obviously, that's what happened. And as Cabrera's ball sailed up through the night time sky and into the stands I could only feel that was supposed to happen. Sometimes you get a feeling. Sometimes you know it's over. Sometimes though, the delay makes you think. Maybe it's delaying the inevitable, or sometimes it's just simply the implosion of a pitcher.

Chapman was not there. He's been said to be dominant and the numbers say just that. He's barely walking anyone compared to the amount of strikeouts he's racked up, but he was getting behind the hitters, with the Indians doing what they do best and working the count. Choo's hit came off a 3-1 fastball. He put himself into a situation where he knew what he was going to get, and executed perfectly

Cabrera did the same thing, getting ahead in the count, working the 3-1 count and getting that fastball he wanted to club into the stands. MLB has it as "changeup" but that's likely because it was slower than all his other fastballs (94 compared to the 97 mph he threw on the first pitch). Same scenario for Choo, 3-1, 94 mph fastball, single.

Heck credit Lonnie Chisenhall for swinging at the first decent fastball he got, which happened to be the first pitch. It was more of an aggressive approach against the closer, but you know his reputation so if he gives you something on the first pitch to swing at, you should take it and Chiz did. It ended up as a deep fly out, but who knows, if he had just put the right swing on it, it could have been a different result for the at-bat.

"Great win. Very dramatic," Acta said. "Everybody remembers the walk-off by Cabrera, which was a great at-bat. But Choo before him had an outstanding at-bat just by working the count and laying off pitches, and eventually getting the single, getting on base." 

Of course, it was Cabrera that provided the dramatics in this one and it was Choo's at-bat that set the stage for it being possible, so you need to credit him and his three hit night.

But more importantly in all this, in terms of the season as a whole goes, Josh Tomlin was on-point. Of course so was his counterpart, Mike Leake, which was the reason for such a close 1-1 ballgame. But it was good to see Tomlin get back to pitching the way we've been accustomed to seeing him pitch.

"It was important because I have to locate my pitches," Tomlin said. "That's the biggest thing for me, that way I can go deep into games. I was able to establish the inside part of the plate, and after that it was just locating the offspeed stuff for strikes." 

He pitched into the seventh, gave up just two walks, and was that groundball machine we have not really seen this season. Remember although he's seen his stretches of success, he's mysteriously become a strikeout pitcher. In this one, he was more of the groundball out Tomlin we saw in the previous seasons. He had 11 groundouts to three flyouts and induced a few double plays.

I know we talk a lot about having to get Ubaldo and Masterson on track, but Tomlin is just as important because he strengthens your rotation depth. Masterson goes today to try and sweep the series and if he and Tomlin are getting back to more consistent reliable ways of work, look out.

Random Details...

It probably wasn't how he pictured it, but Nick Hagadone earned his first major league win. Congrats to him even though it looked like he had given the game away. The thought running through my mind was simply, "He got a swinging strike, and yet he lost the game." That has to be the worst feeling ever knowing you did your thing and it cost your team.

"There's a lot of adrenaline going on," Acta said of the wild pitches. "[He's] got probably the best hitter in the National League [Votto] as hot as he is right now. ... He went after him, but he tried to amp up a little bit with that fastball there and overthrew the catcher, and it ended up hurting him." 

Hagadone said that the win took away any sort of negative feeling because the team won and that's what matters. Heck, he technically won too, so how could feel bad?

Have to question, regardless of outcome, Manny going with Esmil Rogers in the seventh inning with two outs and the based loaded. He lifted Tomlin in a tie game, feeling he had reached the end of his rope. Fine, but Esmil Rogers? Someone who's been on the team a week and who you really know little about? Can you really trust him over someone like Hagadone?

It's not like Rogers is some vet who's been around or has the right type of approach. He's a guy who has spotty control. He could have easily walked the run in. Is he really a right pick over Nick Hagadone (who was warming up in the bullpen when Rogers was pitching to Mesoroco)? Hey, it worked, I'm not upset or complaining, Rogers go the strikeout, which Acta needed. But I think everyone was taken aback by the pick. I certainly was intrigued by his trust in Rogers at this point.

Vinnie Pestano's eighth inning was filled with some great defense. From Casey Kotchman's incredible play to go into the stands to get the ball, to Jason Kipnis' pretty play at second. After losing a game just a few days ago because of horrendous defense, you can really partly credit the club being in this one because of the great defense in that inning. Not to be left out was Michael Brantley's incredible catch earlier in the game when he went up against the wall. The guy can't do anything wrong right now.

Kotchman was also stellar with the stick, going 2-for-3 with the other run the Indians scored in the fourth inning. Makes me wonder why Jose Lopez pinch-hit for him late in that game. 

Oh and even Joe Smith made an incredibly huge play. It ended up not making much of a difference since Hagadone gave up the lead later in the inning, but with no outs and a runner on second, Smith got a bunt right to him, and with out hesitation he threw it to third. Willie Harris is pretty fast, so that was a risky idea. But Harris' slide was poor and although he beat the throw, his foot had not touched the bag before Hannahan slapped the tag on. Great play.

How fun is it to watch Chris Perez pitch right now? He's just a surgeon out there right now with his slider working the way it is. However you know the outcome every single time. You knew all three of those batters were toast the way he was throwing the ball. And I didn't even care how long it took him. He just was out there, he got ahead of each guy, and just slowly and methodically put them all away. 

And yes, I used incredible to describe three of those four defensive plays. What can I say?

Carlos Santana tripped the umpire last night, then picked him up, and dusted him off. Gotta take care of the umpire. Just another job of the catcher. Game caller, game manager, hitter, defender...diplomat.


I won't bother re-hashing my small post on the Mat Latos sign-stealing debacle, but I'll only go on to say that, no one is supporting his notion, not even his teammates.

Latos accused the Indians of stealing signs, or as he put it, "a little something" was going on. Cincinnati's starter gave up three home runs, got bombed pretty bad in his few innings of work, then accused the Indians of perhaps know what was coming after having changed up some signs with his catcher, Ryan Hanigan. It was more home runs than he's given up on the road all season, so maybe he felt something was up, but perhaps it was just his pitches and he didn't realize it.

No one is buying his argument, not even his manager, not even his catcher. I wouldn't be surprised if he is buying his argument now that he realizes what he was saying.

"I'm not going to accuse anybody of something that I'm not sure of," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You don't really have to steal signs when the ball is over the heart of the plate and up. ... It just wasn't a quality night. [Latos] made a number of mistakes last night." 

Strike One.

"I always watch to see if the hitters at second are looking in, even while I'm giving the signs," Hanigan said. "I try to give the signs quickly and try to see if I see movement or anything. I pay attention to stuff like that to make sure it doesn't happen. If they were getting signs, it's not acceptable. It's something that's preventable. I don't think that was necessarily at all the reason why things didn't go the way they needed to go last night." 

Strike Two.

"Tell him you don't have to steal signs when you're tipping pitches," he said. 

And the unnamed Indians player, gets him with a called Strike Three.
Acta went on to say he didn't think "his kids" were into that and that he doesn't teach it. Make no bones about it, it has been a part of the game and perhaps it will always be there, especially if players feel confused as to why they're getting hit.
But when your manager doesn't support your notion and your catcher basically says it didn't happen, you are wrong.
Sorry Latos, just chalk it up to a bad night and move on. And take all the ridicule we will continually give you now that you made such a silly claim. The punishment fits the crime.

Could we finally have a refocused Shin-Soo Choo back in the lineup? Was the shift to leadoff just what was needed for Choo to maybe get things back into control and going like we know he can go?
I sure hope so. Choo won't say it's directly because of the leadoff spot, it's likely not, but perhaps the leadoff spot made him sort of refocus on the art of hitting.

"The first two months of the season," Choo said, "even before swinging, I was already thinking about where the ball would go. Now, I'm more focused on making contact. I'm not worried about where I'm hitting it. I'm seeing the ball and focusing on the contact area. Then, wherever the ball goes, it goes."
Choo notes that now he is starting earlier and not thinking about where he is hitting the ball to, but rather the area that he is hitting the ball in. Hey whatever works man.
The numbers are certainly there. He hit .276 in May and is hitting .295 in June up through Tuesday's game. But he's added three home runs in just half of June. The numbers are also there because he's walked just two times all month, indicating he really is just swinging. Hey, it's better than what he was doing, so one step at a time. His OBP is still healthy and he still is creating opportunities at the top.

Jason Donald hit for the cycle last night, one day after Lonnie Chisenhall just came up short in the major leagues. The Clippers shortstop got that ninth inning double that Chisenhall couldn't get and the Clippers won 13-2 over Charlotte.
It should be of no surprise that Johnny Damon got a night off after the wild game he had in left field on Monday. Not only did he flail around on a few fly balls off the wall, he rammed himself into the side wall of foul ground and was visibly favoring something. Manny Acta notes that Damon had a sore lower back but indicated Monday was a day off, so he may not miss any further time.
Acta said that the Indians didn't bring him in for his defense and that he's there to help out the offense. Of course that's a downright hilarious thing to say with him not really helping offensively, but we all know he was speaking based off intent.
Hats off to the reporter that gave Acta a can of tomato sauce after he made the shopping analogy to going out and making a trade. More hats off (or fedora) to Acta for running with the joke and asking if it bats from the right side.
Finally, multiple hats off to Anthony Castrovince, who penned a blog entry that was perhaps one of the funniest things I've read in quite some time. He also got down to a mystery I've been wondering about myself. I broached the topic of what exactly could be done with the Ohio Cup last week and questioned it's importance in the matter of an Indians/Reds baseball series.

altCastro just wanted to know where the flippin cup was. because he knew it exists, or at least existed at one point. I remember seeing it once to and the pictures provided confirm the visualization I had for it in my brain. 

However the artist rendering completely jogged my memory of what the cup actually looked like. The impeccable lines of the bats, the spot-on Chief Wahoo and stellar take on Cincinnati's logo. And of course the added flare of suggesting it is so important, beams of light cast array the top of the cup.
I may be able to sleep better at night knowing it is there. But not giving it out anymore? What justice is there in the world if that thing can't be bestowed upon a team that defeats their bitter rival four times in one season.
No justice. No justice at all.

No one cares about the Tigers tonight because all eyes were on Chicago versus Chicago. Yeah so, the Tigers won, beating the Cardinals 6-3 to go 7-3 over their last 10 and creep up just two games behind the division lead and one game out of the .500 mark.
But what we care about? The Chicago White Sox lost their third straight, and with the win the Indians now claim first place all to themselves. It's only a half game lead so another day can change things, but another day can also strengthen the lead. The division lead is back where it belongs right now. Not even a complete game from Jake Peavy could top the Cubs as they got some big time pitching from their bullpen to keep the White Sox off the board.
So in a night where things changed dramatically, from losing to winning, a lot more changed, with the Indians taking the reigns of first place. Let's see how long they can hold onto them now.

Nino has a blog that is protected by a statue of Luke Carlin. Give it a vist at The Tribe Daily, or he might eat your face off.

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