This blog obsessively follows the Cleveland Indians baseball team. It is a lot more active during the regular season, but addresses team issues with analytical humor, humorous analysis, and a lot of calling bad players "fungi." You can subscribe to its RSS feed here:
W: R. Perez (2-0) L: D. Bard (0-1) S: C. Perez (2)
At the beginning of the year, had you told me we’d be 4-2 after playing Chicago and Boston, I’d have taken that.After the first four innings of Game One, I would have been pretty pleasantly surprised that the team had not all been sold to a cosmetics firm for scientific experimentation.
What a difference a week makes.
Granted, I’m pretty sure no one out there thought that Fausto Carmona was a 30.00 ERA pitcher, or that Opening Day was anything but an exaggerated pratfall by the nominal Ace, but I’m equally sure that yesterday’s performance was not something many fans would have laid serious money on, either.All Carmona did yesterday was:
a) Held the Red Sox to 2 hits over 7 innings
b) Allowed only 4 baserunners total
c) Posted four 1-2-3 innings
d) Allowed more than one baserunner in an inning one time
Carmona certainly wasn’t flawless: he threw too many balls and too many overall pitches to get through 7 innings.He walked two more hitters and only posted a 9:8 GO:FO ratio, which is very low for Fausto.He had nine three-ball counts before he retired his first batter in the 6th inning.And he was the beneficiary of a couple of fine defensive plays, notably a catch of a Youkilis liner by Orly Cabrera in the top of the 2nd.
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Red Sox (0-5) 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 4 7 "0" Indians (3-2)2 1 0 0 0 4 0 1 X 8 8 0 W: R. Perez(1-0) L: Matsuzaka (0-1)
You might say that Asdrubal Cabrera’s homer barely cleared the wall, but was it really that much shorter than Adrian Gonzalez’?
1) Managerial Back-Patters
Mitch Talbot was fine last night, with flashes of real goodness (I still love his change) and a surprising 7 Ks. I normally start with the starting pitcher in the first List item, because he normally has the most material to delve into, and there’s plenty to talk about there. We’ll get to it shortly.
To me, it seems like it would be terribly unjust if the first focus didn’t go on Manny Acta’s handling of the 5th inning before anything else.
One thing I didn’t mention about Tuesday’s “save” by Chris Perez was the point at which Acta came out to talk to Perez with a 2-0 count on David Ortiz with two men on base. I called this a “mature, gentle Tony Pena head slap” in a conversation on Twitter (follow me at @stevebuffum) last night. Whereas Pena’s will always live more fondly in Cleveland Lore, especially since it resulted in physical abuse to Jose Mesa, Acta’s was equally effective in that it got Perez to focus, throw quality strikes, and retire the batter.
With this backdrop, Talbot ended up in a bit of low-wattage trouble in the top of the 5th by walking Carl Crawford, watching him steal second, and then getting Dustin Pedroia on a runner-advancing groundout. After falling behind Adrian Gonzalez, the one Boston hitter who has resisted the Global Newtification Process, Talbot decided to use the better part of valor and finished the walk intentionally.
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Red Sox (0-4) 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1 Indians (2-2) 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 X 3 5 1 W: Tomlin (1-0) L: Beckett (0-1) S: C. Perez (1)
Joe Tait: It's a beautiful night for baseball! Everyone else: You're totally lying, dude. Joe Tait: So I am.
1) All he does is win
Last season, spent a good portion of my time trying to figure out exactly what it was that Josh Tomlin did WELL as a starting pitcher. His ERA was solid enough, but seemed a little lucky. He wasn't a complete puffball, but his 5.30 K/9 rate wasn't anything to write home about. (Not that I ever actually write home. Look, I'm 46: I *am* home. I guess I text home fairly frequently. I wouldn't text Josh Tomlin's strikeout rates home, either.) He had good enough control, sporting a K:BB ratio over 2, so that's good (especially compared to yoots like David Huff and Aaron Laffey). He just didn't seem like he had some singular, signature skill on which to hang his hat. Like a monocranial Zaphod Beeblebrox, he was just this guy, you know?
One thing he most certainly did NOT do well is keep the ball on the ground.
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E White Sox (1-0) 2 0 4 8 0 0 0 1 0 15 18 0 Indians (0-1) 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 2 1 10 17 0 W: Buehrle (1-0) L: Carmona (0-1)
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E White Sox (2-0) 1 4 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 8 11 2 Indians (0-2) 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 0 W: Ed. Jackson (1-0) L: Carrasco (0-1)
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E White Sox (2-1) 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 0 Indians (1-2) 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 X 7 11 1 W: Masterson (0-1) L: Danks (0-1)
I’m not sure which was more exciting: the Indians turning a triple play, or me punching a hole through my monitor in the 4th inning on Friday.
1) CFL All-Star
One of the exciting things about the Canadian Football League is that there are only 3 downs. Instead of third-down conversions, there are second-down conversions, meaning that you really pretty much have to get 5 yards a play in order to move the ball. Other exciting things include 12 players per team, a wider, longer field, scoring points on tremendous punts, occasional yetis devouring unwary cornerbacks, and teams owned by Meat Loaf.
It takes some getting used to, though, realizing that an incomplete pass on second down pretty much means you have to punt, so the game is fast-paced, pass-oriented, and completely devoid of interest. Still, you could imagine this kind of innovation being carried over to baseball: you could see, for example, an effort to squeeze an entire baseball game into the 4 hours of daylight Canadians are rationed in Spring Training by going to 3 balls for a walk and 2 strikes for a strikeout. We’ll call this sport Canadian Rules.
In Canadian Rules Baseball, Fausto Carmona was AWESOME.
Steve Buffum grew up a Cleveland sports fan in Akron, OH. He now works as a data cudgeller in Austin, TX with his wife and three children. He also writes a theoretically-popular regular column for www.TheClevelandFan.com and is on Twitter as @stevebuffum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org