I guess tonight was supposed to be how the Indians were supposed to win this year.
In a matchup of 2004 All-Stars, Jake Westbrook was the better pitcher, although he would have been hard-pressed to be worse than his counterpart. Ted Lilly, who missed several weeks in Spring Training, was awful. He walked five, struck out one, and when he did get the ball over the plate, Tribe batters got him for three hits. Ben Broussard, who seems to thrive with the bases loaded, lined a well-placed double in the right field gap to clear the bases in the first inning, and the team didn't trail again.
The rain came in the third inning, and given Lilly's performance up to that point, it seemed the Jays had the advantage. When Jason Davis, who I think needs more consistent work, gave up a home run to Alex Rios (the second of his career) and a base hit to the next batter, I felt the game was slipping away. But JD settled down and retired the seven Blue Jays, and turned the ball over to the back end of the bullpen. Three innings and a Ryan Ludwick homer later, the Indians had won a surpisingly undramatic 6-4 contest.
A note on Bob Howry. He seems to be suffering from a bit of control issues, which looks to be stemming from his release point. During a shot of him warming in the bullpen, Luis Isaac was demonstrating how Bob should be finishing his delivery. Several times during his inning of work, it looked like he held onto the ball too long, and his pitch tailed down and away. It's not a huge deal, but something to watch. I think David Riske will be getting more appearances in the eighth inning; he and Arthur Rhodes have been the most consistent arms out of a pretty consistent bullpen. Rhodes in particular has been excellent; his three-pitch strikeout of Corey Koskie tonight was exquisite.
I scratched my head when the lineup was posted. I understand that Ted Lilly is left-handed, but I don't see the need to drop Ben Broussard that far down in the order, much less hit Jose Hernandez and Ryan Ludwick 4-5. Yes, they both had good games, but I sometimes think that tinkering has its limit.
Victor Martinez is a completely different hitter depending which batter's box he's in. Take this with a grain of small simple size salt, but Victor is hitting .375/.432/.594 right-handed and .152/.230/.215 left-handed. It kind of reminds me of Jose Valentin, who was a switch hitter in name only. The good news for Victor is that another left-handed pitcher (Gustavo Chacin) is toeing the mound tomorrow. The bad news is that it's a day game after a night game, meaning Josh Bard will probably get the start. I guess this belies the work switch-hitters have to put in to maintain not one, but two batting stances.
Reinstated Jody Gerut from the 15-day Disabled List; Optioned Him to Buffalo (AAA)
Jody was obviously not happy about the demotion, but the Indians are between a rock and a hard place right now. Jody's mobility isn't all the way back, and I don't think the team wants to pull the trigger on a tough move without making 100% sure that Jody is capable of playing right field. Speaking of Buffalo, Brandon Phillips is back from the dead; he's now hitting a more respectable .242/.301/.439. Whatever plate discipline he showed in 2004 seems to have gone away though; Brandon has whiffed 29 times to 10 walks. Mike Kinkade, who can play third base, would be a nice short-term fix if Boone does go to the minors. Besides his ability to get hit by pitches, he's walked 11 times as opposed to 15 strikeouts. He's slugging .495 for the Bisons.
Placed 1B Ryan Mulhern on the Disabled List (A+ - Jaw); Demoted IF Anthony Lunetta to Kinston (A+) from Akron (AA)
The converted outfielder literally took one on the chin in batting practice. That's too bad, since the 2003 draft pick was off to a pretty good start (.307/.393/.594)
Placed SS Brandon Pinckney on the Disabled List (A+ - finger); Reinstated C Clayton McCullough from the Disabled List
Another literal bad break for a member of the K-Tribe. Pinckney, who had a breakout year in 2004, was hitting just .222/.250/.333, but nevertheless, losing a middle infielder isn't a great thing for the organization give the dearth of prospects at short and second.
Placed RHP Travis Thompson on the Disabled List (AA - shoulder); Received RHP Kyle Evans from Extended Spring
Around the League...
The Chicago White Sox have now had the lead in every one of their games, shattering a major-league record. What's even more amazing about their fast start is that they've been a below-average offensive club, hitting a collective .259/.325/.397. Now obviously their stellar rotation (3.09 ERA) has a lot to do with that, but over the long haul, I just can't see them winning at the same pace with those numbers. But by the time they drift back to earth, their margin might be too much for the other teams in the division to overcome. Minnesota, probably the most balanced team in the division, is off to a pretty good 20-13 start, but they're already 6 games behind the Sox. Amazing.