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8.15.2013

Morning Rundown: Double the Comeback, Double the Heart-rate

Nino Colla | Thursday, August 15, 2013 | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

The Indians are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "Keep on Keeping on" with their latest win. Beauty of all this, is that a win is a win, that is a win.

You can get out-hit 17-12. You can blow a save. You can have your starter not get out of the fifth inning. You can have your top two hitters in the order go a combined 2-for-12 with six strikeouts and no runs scored and a caught stealing.

But you can do all that and still win a game and if you do win that game, none of that really matters in the end.

And the Indians did all of that in this game, but still won.

They won with grit and determination. It is almost as if they are running on spit and shoelaces. I don't know what that means, but it sounds gritty and as if it was strung together, but effective and that it gets the job done.

The Indians are the McGyver of baseball wins right now.

Spit and shoelaces.

Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports
INDIANS - 9 | TWINS - 8 (F/12)
W: Chris Perez (5-2)
L: Ryan Pressly (3-3)
S: Joe Smith (2)
[BOXSCORE]

I know I'll probably take a lot of Chris Perez flack, but whatever, the guy pitched two innings. He gave up one run and it was a home run to the team's best hitter who went 5-for-7 on the game. No other pitcher was really able to get him out. The guy hits a home run in a one run game and it is tied.

He does it in a two run game, Perez gets out of the inning, the game is over, he doesn't blow the save, everything is fine.

What a difference one run can make.

Now I'm not making that argument, because the thing is Perez knows the situation, so he knows he cannot be making mistakes against a guy like Joe Mauer, who launched the solo shot in the 10th inning to tie things up after the Indians took the lead in the top of the frame.

But just take in mind the situations before you go bonkers. Not defending, not justifying, not making excuses. He failed at his job yesterday afternoon. He deserves to hang his head after the fact. But he did throw two  innings to grab the win, and seemed sharp otherwise. He only gave up one other hit and had a few strikeouts. I'd say he just ran into a hot Mauer, and there is no shame in that. Especially since the pitch that Mauer hit was down and not really something that Perez put right down the center. It was a fastball and it was down. Mauer hit it just over the fence.

He made rather quick work of everyone else. Didn't seem to be sluggish or down. It was his second day in a row so perhaps the velocity wasn't quite Perez-like, but it wasn't an ineffective CP outing.

It also wasn't an effective Carlos Carrasco outing, but it wasn't bad. He did give up a heck of a lot of hits, especially for the amount of innings he ended up pitching. Not getting through the fifth, 10 hits, leading to four runs. He did not walk anyone though and kept he ball in the yard. It was really contained to the 1st and 2nd and after that, he only had issue with a single in the fourth. .Once he gave up back-to-back singles in the fifth to Mauer and Morneau, his leash almost disappeared.

But really, two good innings and two bad innings won't get the job done. At least it wasn't implosion and at least the Indians were step-for-step with the Twins during that time.

"[Carrasco's] stuff is always good," Francona said. "Consistently from start to start, he holds his stuff very well. He just makes too many mistakes. A lot of times, you can't get away with one mistake to good hitters. There's some periods where he makes one or two or three during an at-bat, and he's paying for it."

Obviously having thrown 71 pitches, he threw enough for strikes, he just caught the plate on one too many. Still, not a horrible outing, but not the best.

Luckily for both he and the bullpen members that followed, Rich Hill and Matt Albers specifically, the offense wasn't about to let things go south. They managed to cut the lead down to one after the top of the sixth, but the Twins came right back to add two more and another in the seventh. Wouldn't blame you if you thought things were looking bleak at that point.

Because I thought they were myself. You have two innings to score four runs when it took you seven innings just to score three? Good luck. But where there is a will, there is a way and I'm just full of these cliches this morning.

Brantley singles home a run and sets the stage for Giambi. And it took not even one pitch for Big G to see something he liked and the game is tied.

"G's was obviously a huge one," Francona said. "We pecked away and worked our way back into the game, then they scored the two and kind of spread it out -- G, with just a huge hit."

Casey Fien, the reliever who gave up the bomb, said he left a cutter up and over and a guy like Giambi won't miss that, especially the way he rocketed it over the right field wall.

From there, extras and then Carlos Santana took Glen (or Scott) Perkins deep for the third time in his career. So what's that, two big hits to rally the troops?

My next question, you have one more?

No, no more clutch hits, but I do have a Michael Brantley sac-fly, which is just as good as a hit when it scores a run. Remember the win theory? A win is a win. A run is a run. If a run helps you win, then don't question the run.

"[The win is] nice, because we have a day off tomorrow," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Anytime it's a travel day, you'd like to leave on a good note. Other than that, you turn the page and try to get our bullpen guys as much rest as you can."

This team is doing some gritty things. 

Random Notes...

Joe Mauer would have lit the world on fire if he came through in his final at-bat, which turned out to be the final out of the game when he struck out. So I guess Joe Smith figured out how to get him out. I mean, so did Bryan Shaw, but who's counting?

Santana hit his 14th home run, which is now one off of Jason Kipnis' team leading total. It would also tie Mark Reynolds, who is gone. Remember that? It ties part-time player Ryan Raburn. Yeah, really. That was Santana's only hit, but he scored a second run off a walk.

Jason Kipnis had the big hit day with three, a walk and a pair of runs scored.

But again, Brantley and Giambi brought the big artillery with three runs batted in each to make up 2/3rds of the scoring. 

Drew Stubbs had the dreaded 0-for-5, but at least he only struck out once. You could even count Lonnie Chisenhall and Asdrubal Cabrera one person and count them 0-for-5. you could also assume that Asdrubal Cabrera is lazy.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

The Indians made an intriguing signing official on Wednesday. Officially they inked Cuban defector to a minor league deal that is worth just $50,000 short of one million dollars. Leandro Linares is just 19-years-old and recently last September defected from Cuba.

"We're confident that he will transition well into professional baseball," said Indians vice president of player development Ross Atkins. "He has already benefited from intense amateur experiences in international tournaments while playing for his home country, Cuba."

And because of his age, he also qualifies as a player signed in the new international period, meaning the money counts towards the bonus allotment they have. They're about halfway used up of the over $3.6 million they have to spend.

About Linares though. Atkins says he already has a low-90's fastball, and you know that will only get better, with a breaking ball and a changeup. He notes the delivery is durable as well. It's just another nice young prospect to throw in the system. I thought it was more of a "higher noted" Cuban defector, but it turns out that he is just a big time prospect that could bud into something. He's tall, built well, and has been pitching on national teams in competitions for some time now.

Speaking of prospects, the Lindor/Naquin revolution has begun. Lindor was promoted to Akron just last month and he'll now be joined by Tyler Naquin, who's been promoted to the Double-A squad. Obviously being a college draft player, Naquin is a bit older and needs to advance quicker, but it is good to see them back on the same team once again. Hopefully the Aeros can take advantage of them both being around on the same team while they can.

Yan Gomes keeps getting talked about, especially after he started two straight games behind the plate. Despite the fact that he's the Indians hottest hitter right now (.373 since July 3rd), Santana is the Indians starting catcher. That isn't exactly how Tito is looking at it.

"Santana's our catcher. I don't know if it matters -- one, two, three," Francona said. "We have two catchers, and they're both pretty good. When [Gomes] plays, it just seems to make sense to catch him."

The thing is, especially with Reynolds gone, when the Indians are going to play Gomes, they catch him. So in terms of being the "regular" catcher, Santana really is in a split. Santana plays every day, Gomes doesn't, but lately it seems as if the starts have gone from 80-20 Santana, to 60-40 Santana, at least at catcher.

"When he plays, catch him," Francona said. "First of all, he's a good catcher. Anytime you play him ... you want to let Carlos get off his feet. It's a huge bonus to get a guy that not only catches, [but] catches well and adds offensively. So we've tried to add to his workload because of it. I think he makes us a pretty good team."

How long before you look at it as a bonus though and start looking it as the right move for this team to make Gomes the full-time starting catcher and move Santana? Does that come next year? They Indians better consider it. Especially when they are considering trying to establish each spot on their team. Look, I like the offense. I think the one missing piece is a bonafied middle of the order guy. Either a cleanup hitter that you can put right behind Kipnis, or a three-hole hitter that you build the rest of the offense around. Where that guy plays, I'm not sure, maybe first base?

This team has this catcher though, who is a legitimate hitter and is as good defensively as anyone else. He needs to play and he needs to be the regular starter. He's the better CATCHER than the starter, so he should be there. Santana is still the better hitter, he needs to play every day. But this is all about putting the best lineup out there. This year, this method is fine. This year, it makes sense, due to the make up. This year, with Raburn and Aviles both on the bench, Tito is doing a masterful job in making the pieces fit and work.

But next year, it will be time to re-evaluate.

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