The Indians finished their twelve-game homestand 8-4 by winning this weekend's series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The series did start ominously, with the Reds winning on Friday in the same way the Red Sox won on Wednesday; by tying the game in the eighth and taking the lead in the ninth. In both cases the bullpen, which had for the most part been stellar all year, did not execute. Scott Sauerbeck, who had owned Ken Griffey his entire career, hung a curveball on the inner half of the plate in the eighth inning on Friday. Well, you know the rest. In cases like this, it's helpful to remember the sometimes frustrating but eventually edifying aspect of baseball; sometimes percentages do not go your way. Scott Sauerbeck may strike Griffey out every time he faces him until he retires, but for that one at-bat, Griffey won the battle. In the ninth inning, Felipe Lopez, in the midst of a breakout season doubled home Pena to take the lead.
One-run games, though, sometimes work the other way. For instance, take today's game. Victor Martinez fouled off four pitches against Reds reliever David Weathers before pulling a single through the right side. Game, set, match. Martinez had been hitting .207 left-handed to that point. Now Martinez is not that bad a hitter from the left side as the numbers say, but the percentages were what they were, and Reds manager Jerry Narron allowed Weathers to pitch to Victor. Sometimes you get the percentages, and sometimes the percentages get you.
The other game was a pure unadulterated whipping, although David Riske allowed four runs in the ninth inning before finally recording the final out of the game. Riske has been in a pitching slump lately, he has had trouble locating his offspeed pitches, which has opposing hitters sitting on his fastball. The good thing is that the Indians aren't dependant on Riske at this stage of the season to get the other team out in pressure situations. If the Indians had "one through nine" going last year with the hitters, they have using "one through seven" in the bullpen. Depth is extremely important in baseball, given the long season and all the things that can go wrong during it, and although there are a finite number of guys you can place on a roster, making sure that each of them can contribute positively to the team is a crucial goal to meet. This holds true especially when constructing a bullpen; if you have only a certain amount of people you can trust with a lead, you open yourself up to problems down the road, mainly the tiring of the arms that you do trust. Riske probably won't be pitching in anything but a lopsided game, so until he gets his control back, the Indians will have one less arm to use in late inning situations.
Victor Martinez is hitting .289/.385/.513 in June (76 AB).
I received a couple e-mails about Jhonny Peralta, especially regarding his placement in the order. And in retrospect, I over-reacted a bit. For one thing, the order of the lineup is really secondary to the specific players in it. For example, you could have placed every member of the 1991 Indians in the perfect spot in the lineup, and they'd still have finished last in the league in scoring. When you have bad players in your lineup, you will score less runs than if you have good players hitting. I guess my main beef was not really the placement of Peralta in the lineup, but the fact that he wasn't in the lineup as much as I'd like. With the first four places in the order (Sizemore, Crisp, Hafner, Martinez/Broussard) becoming solidified, I think little minutae like lineup order will become less and less of an issue.
Best wishes to Kyle Denney, who was hospitalized tonight after being struck in the head by a ball off the bat of Durham outfielder Joey Gathright.
To those reading this via an RSS reader, hopefully the formatting problems have been fixed.
I'm working on the final ten of my top 20 prospects, and I'm having to make some interesting decisions. Say what you will about the top couple of prospects, there's a ton of depth in the organization. I'll throw out five pitchers, and I'd like you to recommend three of them to remain in the top 20:
Nick Pesco (A+)
Dan Denham (AA)
Dan Cevette (A-)
Aaron Laffey (A-)
Bear Bay (A+)