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5.14.2013

Morning Rundown: Dazzling Masty and Kipnis Help Earn Split

Nino Colla | Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

If you asked me before the double header if I'd take a split, you know I most certainly would. Yes, I would. Why am I good with a split? Because nothing changes going into the rest of the week and that to me is the important thing. Nothing changing based off two games with the Yankees.

Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports
Say what you want about this lineup that seems to be pieced together with scotch tape and Elmer's glue, but the Yankees are in first place and after the first two games, just to win one would have been ideal.

Of course two wins would have been better, but after Sunday's big comeback, you had to wonder if the steam that has been powering the Indians train would soon run a little low.

YANKEES - 0 | INDIANS - 1 (GAME 1)
W: Justin Masterson (6-2)
L: David Phelps (1-2)
[BOXSCORE]

It wouldn't be in the first game, that was for sure. In fact things started great right out from the start with Jason Kipnis' home run.

And that was all. No really, that was it. If not for Bourn being caught stealing, it would have been 2-0, but the one run was all Justin Masterson would need. Aside from a eventful two that saw him load the bases after getting the first two outs of the inning, Masterson would go on to cruise through the game. The rest of Masterson's hits and walks were scattered over the following seven frames.

And with just slightly over 100 pitches going into the ninth, it allowed Masty to go the distance.

"Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do," Francona said. "From the very first pitch of the game, he had power, he had breaking ball, he attacked hitters. There was no wiggle room because we had one run, and he made it stand."

Masterson said he and Santana were on the same page all afternoon and even the Yankees had to credit running into a guy who was just on his game. Three walks aside, he struck out nine, so you know the slider had an extra little bite to it that was missing bats instead of getting the groundout. Not that he didn't have a lot of those, but when you get all 27 outs, you're bound to get them in a variety of ways.

It isn't often a team goes 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and loses to a team that goes 1-for-3. But it happened in this one. The offense simply couldn't find a big hit after, but again, they didn't need to.

Unfortunately, it needed to happen again later in the day. And that's where the steam finally subsided.

YANKEES - 7 | INDIANS - 0 (GAME 2)
W: Vidal Nuno (1-0)
L: Trevor Bauer (1-2)
S: Adam Warren (1)
[BOXSCORE]

What the kicker of it all was, it was the lack of two out RISP hits as to why the Indians couldn't come through. They had plenty of chances to do what they do best. In fact, their only RISP situations came with two outs and three came in the fourth, fifth, and sixth frames. The other one came in the eighth after the game was decided when Nick Swisher doubled with two outs.

A team can't do that though. As good as the Indians have been hitting in that situation, you can't have four and four of those alone and expect to win a game on that. Not getting a runner to third or having a less than two-out run scoring opportunity makes it really difficult to score. And not getting that two-out RISP hit makes it really difficult to win.

The fun thing about it all? They had a chance to win for six innings. The deceiving part of the 7-0 score is that this was a game until things imploded in the 7th inning. And all the credit goes to Trevor Bauer for start that gave the Indians more than they could have expected. But the best thing he gave them, was a chance to win.

"You know what? He keeps 'em off the scoreboard," Tribe manager Terry Francona said about Bauer. "I'll tell you what. There's so much to like about him, and he's still developing, but even in the midst of that -- you know, coming up like he does isn't the easiest thing to do -- and he gives us a chance to win every time he pitches."

Through the first six innings, Bauer's line looked like this: 6 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K.

If not for an error, the game is even tied going into the seventh. Unfortunately for Bauer he got tagged up for a few doubles and after eclipsing 100 pitches, Francona decided that he'd trust his bullpen while it was still close. That didn't produce the greatest results. But more on that in a second.

Bauer continues to get better and better. It is fun to watch because his command seems to coming to him and each time he comes up for one of these spot starts, he looks more sharp and you begin to see even more why he's a top pitching prospect.

So that was really encouraging and something incredibly positive to take away from a loss like this. If ever a silver lining, that is one.

Of course that went out the window, especially after the Indians bullpen got in to get pummeled. It all started with Nick Hagadone, who continues to struggle. It's two outings in a row now that he's been roughed up quite a bit. On Saturday he blamed his lack of command for outright walking two hitters in a row and he did just the same on Monday against the Yankees.

Hagadone started by walking yet another hitter, then followed that up by giving up a few singles and a double to pretty much put things out of reach completely. His sequences were scary because all of his fastballs (which seemed to have a lack of velocity that we're accustomed to with Hagadone) were scattered. One was thrown for a strike that was fouled off to Gardner. He then went 3-1 to Nix before the single. Again, all low-90's fastballs.

Not sure if there is something wrong there with him, but it is starting to get a little concerning now two outings in a row.

All in all, even Nick Swisher admitted some fatigue in the second contest.

"We were a little tired today. It showed," Swisher said. "But to be able to come out of that with a split, I mean, we've got to be happy with that. We were dragging a little bit. ... Maybe that second game, we didn't really bring it as much as we should have. Sometimes that's going to happen."

But a split? Yup, I'm good with it.

Random Notes...

Everyone in the Indians lineup in the first game managed to reach base aside from Jason Giambi. And if you did the math, the Indians went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position between the two games. Ouch.

If you're also counting, the Indians have now not scored a run in 17 innings.

The return of David Huff. The Indians lefty went an inning and two thirds with just a hit and a pair of strikeouts in his first appearance since last year. More on him in a second

The first inning of the second game was a little dicey with the error that led to a run. But the dicier thing was the fact that Robinson Cano stepped on Bauer's foot on his way to first. Bauer went down and looked like he was in some pain. But not only did he stay in the game, he showed no ill effects of the scary moment. Crisis averted.

I know most of the Indians fans out there are going to look at the Yankees pitcher and say, "Who?" I wouldn't blame them for that. Some Yankees fans are probably doing the same thing. Would you believe he is a former Indian? A lot of fans probably knew that, but most had no clue Nuno was a 48th round draft pick back in the 2009 draft.

It is a shame the Tribe had to give up on a guy like Nuno. He is someone who was probably just a depth signing at first and ended up impressing so much that he couldn't be denied promotion after promotion. Then a numbers game caught up with the Indians minor league system and they had to cut ties. He found his way over to the Yankees organization and would you look at that. I always liked what Nuno brought to the table, but I'm not sure even I thought he'd make it to the majors. Congrats to him on his first major league victory in his first ever major league start.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Yesterday I mentioned how I didn't think it was a good idea to be sending Lonnie Chisenhall down. I actually didn't think it was a possibility, but rather a way to calm the pitch forks some people had been sharpening and aiming towards Lonnie Baseball.

So I was a little shocked when I saw that the Indians actually did send him down to Triple-A Columbus.

"The outcome of his at-bats I think was starting to affect his play," Francona said, "and he even kind of admitted that. This guy is such a building block in our organization. This is not an indictment on him. He's going to figure it out, and he's going to be a force here. [We] just think it's better for him right now to go take a deep breath, get some at-bats, get himself rolling and you'll see him back here, leaning on some fastballs," Francona said.

I really hope that is the case. I hope it is a quick visit where he goes down, gets a little momentum and confidence back and comes right back up. I won't bother reiterating my point, because I think it made it pretty well already. He needs to prove himself at the Major League level.

However I can understand the move, at least if it is temporary. Other guys are hitting really well now and by doing this you get more flexibility with the lineup. You get a guy like Reynolds over at third, he's playing just about every day now. Swisher moves around less, gets more days at DH to keep him fresh and you can also see a lot more Raburn the way he's been swinging.

So I get it. He's not hitting well and instead of sitting him every day against the left-hander, you get him regular at-bats for a bit. He's a scary 2-for-22 against the lefties, one of those being that grand slam against David Price way back last month in the first week of the season. That tells you what kind of issues he's had against those pitchers since.

Taking Chisenhall's place on the roster is David Huff, who got used in the second game of the double header. Huff hasn't been anything special in Columbus, but he's back on the 40-man now and in the mix.

Who knows how long he's staying, but the way Hagadone has pitched, it may be Hags on his way out to Columbus and Huff may get an extended look. I say this because Vinnie Pestano could be back by the weekend series against Seattle at home.

Pestano threw a bullpen session on Monday and said he is slated to go down to Lake County for a rehab outing on Wednesday. That should lead to a reactivation after just one outing considering he's a reliever and hasn't even missed that much time anyway.

"It's easier when the guys are in town, but when they're on the road, especially watching the series against Detroit on TV, it's definitely tough to watch," he said. "I watched every pitch of the series. It was a good series for us, but it was tough watching everyone else go out there and have fun."

I will say that I will miss Pestano's Twitter activity during the game. He's as good of a fan as he is a pitcher, but he means more as a pitcher than he does as a fan, so that's more important.

The Indians should be back to full strength when Pestano returns too as it appears Chris Perez is alright too. He was warming up in case things got hairy for Masterson in the ninth. Francona even said that if Masterson put some guys on, they would have called in Perez.

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