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4.05.2013

Morning Rundown: Jays 'KO Myers to Prevent Tribe Sweep

Nino Colla | Friday, April 05, 2013 | Best Blogger Tips

As the great Conan O'Brien would say. Whooaaaa....wait. I already used that introduction?

Well, okay, that issue aside, yesterday's introduction still applies. Don't go crazy now folks, the Indians are going to lose games just like everyone else. The Tigers got pounded 8-2. Let's keep it in perspective. At least the Indians were in this one.

The problem here is that I was stuck in class last night and didn't see anything past the third inning.
Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports

INDIANS - 8 | BLEU (hehe!) JAYS - 10
[BOXSCORE]
W: Steve Delabar (1-0)
L: Brett Myers (0-1)
S: Casey Janssen (1)

So after I made the comment that J.P. Arencibia is Canadian for "Crushes Brett Myers" I have nothing really to go off of other than a second home run for J.P later in the game off Myers.

Welcome to the American League? I know Myers spent a little bit of time with Chicago last year, but, now he's a starter and he's going to be seeing a lot of hitters he is not familiar with. Not only that, he was not effective last night. So that's another thing.

The Indians dug him back out of the hole and tied the thing back up at 6, and I suppose you can ask the question to Terry Francona. Why did Myers come out for the sixth?

"The best way to ruin the season is to ruin the bullpen," said Francona. "If he gets through the sixth, now we can match up a little bit."

Here's where I am going to opt not to be critical of Francona. In the department that, not only am I not a manager of a bullpen and a rotation, I am not a manager, period. I also was not watching the game and couldn't tell you what Myers looked like in the fifth inning. Had I been, maybe I would have had a better indication as to what Francona should of done.

But what he did was put him out there in a tie game, hoping for one more frame so he could get to his bullpen and perhaps get a lead. You have to remember who may or may not have been available, and that his three best relievers all pitched two days straight.

Not to mention, they don't pitch unless it is a lead. That is a Cody Allen, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, Rich Hill type situation in a tied game. Perhaps he thought he could get one more.

Well, he got one more, one more Arencibia home run. But credit where credit is due, Myers shouldered all of the blame for this one, as he should.

"I couldn't get the ball down tonight. Everything was up," Myers said. "When you pitch up in the zone against these type of hitters in the big leagues, it's not going to be good."

Maybe that was enough indication for Francona to save himself from what he knows is MORE LIKELY to happen with Myers going out for the sixth, maybe he thinks he can push the right button. He didn't, that's baseball, sometimes you lose. The Indians were in a position where they had already won the series, they are in the middle of 13 straight games, they've already lost their fifth starter and had to get rid of their extra bullpen arm.

I think Francona made that decision based off the good of the team in the long run. I think it was sound, and I don't think anyone should take a major issue with it.

What we should do is take away the positives from it, and that was the fact that despite the Blue Jays constant run production, the Indians were relentless in their comeback. And Mark Reynolds, who homered again, put it the best.

"When you score eight runs, you're probably going to win more than you're going to lose," said Mark Reynolds, who launched a home run in the fourth inning. "The Blue Jays have a great team and we came in on the road and took two out of three. Last night and tonight, we kept battling back.

Not to mention, as Francona touched up on, Mark Buerhle is a tough cookie and never an easy guy for the Indians to beat, but they got to him and kept coming after him. This offense is really really good and did exactly what we thought they were capable of.

If they get any semblance of pitching on a consistent basis this year, they will win games.

Lets also not forget the situation in the eighth inning when the Indians had Darren Oliver on the ropes. With two outs and Swish and Kipnis on 2nd and 3rd, Carlos Santana hit a ball right up the middle...that Emilio Bonifacio somehow got to and was able to make the throw to first.

That positioning of a baseball is usually a hit and who knows, perhaps Swish scores if it is slow enough and gets through. And let Swisher make the point for you.

"If it goes up the middle, we could be talking a different ballgame," said Cleveland's Nick Swisher. "Either way, I was so proud of the way the guys battled and fought."

You are talking about a tie game before the 10th run by Toronto in the bottom of the eighth and perhaps a lead. Perhaps a different pitcher for the Indians in the eighth, perhaps a different strategy.

The point is not to say "well what if" but rather point out that what if and that it was that close. The Indians were in it to the very end on a night where their starter was not very good. They managed to get five out of him and not absolutely destroy their bullpen either. Their big three in the pen are going to be ready to go for Friday against Tampa, and the Indians are leaving the opening series with Toronto with two wins and on top of the division with Chicago and Minnesota, not Detroit and Kansas City like everyone thought.

Perk up, it's going to be a fun season.

Random Notes...

I really love Carlos Santana hitting in the seventh spot, giving him a prime opportunity to do what he did last  night. Going 3-for-5, with a pair of runs scored and a pair of RBI, could have had one more hit and up to two more runs batted in. He's sitting in a spot in the lineup where he can do damage, behind a hot hitter like Brantley who's hitting everything right now and a power guy in Mark Reynolds. Not to mention this is all after the heart of the lineup goes.

Lonnie Baseball with a pair of RBI off a double is also fantastic to see. He's our eighth hitter? Damn.

Jason Kipnis calmed everything with his first hit(s) of the season and a RBI and a run scored. Everyone pretty much managed to get it in on the action, including Nick Swisher with an excellent evening, getting on four times and knocking in a run.

Take something else away from what this offense did. They out-hit the Blue Jays once again, even in the loss, and were 8-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Also, five of their eight runs came with a two-out hit. So there's some really awesome stuff to take away from what this offense did and can do.

Rough debut for Cody Allen who came right in for Myers and gave up the home run, threw a wild pitch, walked two hitters. Just ugly looking at the box score, so I can't even imagine how it looked watching it.

Matt Albers going two innings is huge for the bullpen. He did give up a run, but he didn't give up a hit in the process.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Tito decided to go with Mark Reynolds at first instead of at DH in the third game, which makes a lot of sense to get his glove in there and give Swish a break from the field. I can imagine he will employ this strategy a lot, even in getting Santana days off from catching but keeping him in the lineup, perhaps putting Swish in at right field and sitting Stubbs down. Francona really praised Reynold's glove.

"Maybe people don't realize what he's capable of doing," Francona said. "I know he has really good actions. He will get better with reps, but we knew when we signed him [he could handle first base]. I remember seeing him and thinking, 'This guy, he's got first base actions.' He's not like a converted guy. His actions have first base written all over them."

I do remember early on a great stretch he made on a grounder from Kipnis. Reynolds is no stiff over there, he can play and that will only help in keeping guys fresh, but also keeping their bats in the everyday lineup.

Tito also noted that everyone will have played by the time they leave Tampa. Who knows if Francona will employ the Manny Acta strategy in getting all of his bench players a start in the same game. I doubt it. That wouldn't be the worst thing in the world though, considering the bench is actually pretty good.

Well, the Scott Kazmir saga continues with the announcement that the Indians left-handed starter will visit the disabled list. The move was retroactive to earlier this week when the season started on Tuesday, so he's able to be activated on the 17th. Can we expect him to be back then?

"We're trying to get Carrasco on track," Francona said. "We had a plan set up for him and we didn't want to upset that. The length of Kazmir [on the disabled list], we don't think this is going to be very long. There's other things that could potentially probably weigh into it as we go."

Like, Trevor Bauer pitching really really well? Because that's the plan right now. Bauer will get the start on Saturday. If Carlos Carrasco wasn't suspended, it would be him for convenience sake. But once Carrasco's suspension is up, the Indians are likely sending him down to get that extra reliever back up. 

But wait, does this mean Bauer will get more than one start? Looks like it, at least two starts. The Indians have their first off day on the 15th of April, meaning they could skip the fifth spot in the rotation once again. They would only need the fifth starter to make one more start next week on the 11th, and then not again until the 21st of April against the Astros.

So Kazmir gets better, ready to go, Bauer makes two starts.

It puzzles me to as to why the Indians wouldn't just use Corey Kluber in this situation if that is the case. Why run the risk of Bauer putting up two really good starts and making people say "Well, he doesn't need to go back down, let's just keep him!" I don't think that is likely, but if it does happen, the Indians are in that situation.

I always thought when Bauer got called up, it would be for good. He's that type of guy. Not someone that is in a spot-start situation.

At least, that was the old Indians. Maybe the new Indians don't play it that way. Maybe they put the best guy they can possibly put out there. I mean, putting Bauer out like that says that is their approach.

The other thing on Kazmir real quick. The Indians are being very respectful to Scott. They know what he did to get back to this point, and they are being really fair to him in making sure there are no issues. They could have been selfish and thrown him out there, but they chose to go the right way.

"We just wanted to be as conservative as possible," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "He's come a long way professionally. In our minds, this was the prudent thing to do."

If I have to say it again, I will. Classy organization from head to toe.

A few Indians affiliates started their seasons last night, including the Columbus Clippers, who got the victory on the road, 4-0 over the Indianapolis Indians. The big and only blast came from Jeremy Hermida, who hit an eighth inning grand slam to propel the Clips over the Indians. Yan Gomes was 2-for-4 with a double in the game and paging Nick Hagadone, the reliever who made the Opening Day roster and had to be sent down due to the Kazmir issue struck out three. He could be back up this weekend, if not soon after.

Jason Kipnis got the following text from his father before the game on Thursday.
My only thoughts. What a cool dad.

If it worked in getting Jason Kipnis a hit, then, even better. Francona was quick to mention that Kipnis will be fine, and uh, given that it was only two games and he now has two hits after Thursday, I would say Francona is right.

Who's panicking?

Interesting note that Joe Smith had the most relief appearances without a big league save, until he got his first on Wednesday. That's pretty crazy. I think people forget he had a few years with New York before he really started to come around in Cleveland in the way he has.

Later today, Justin returns with his Tampa Bay Rays series preview, and this weekend I'll have a full report on the field for The Tribe Daily Invitational II. 

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