Maybe it’s time I stopped going up to the Jake. I work nights, so lucky for the Tribe I’ve only made it to four games this season, all losses. Why blame myself, though? The obvious scapegoat is Luis Valbuena. OK, maybe it wasn’t only his fault, but I just do not understand how he keeps getting on the field. If I went to work everyday and constantly performed as poorly as Luis, I would be standing in the unemployment line today. It is to the point where in the fourth inning Ty Wigginton stepped up to the plate and I looked at my friend Brian and said, in all seriousness, “Here comes a double play ball to third, which Valbuena will definitely boot.” I had never been more disappointed in myself for being correct…until later. Even after Asdrubal Cabrera made an unbelievable bare-handed stop with the infield playing in (one that certainly would make his hero, some guy named Omar, proud), Justin Masterson just couldn’t keep his composure.
Masterson presents a bit of an issue in such a young starting rotation. Some nights, he looks untouchable. More often than not, though, he cannot throw strikes consistently enough and he beats himself. He’s got dynamic stuff, but I don’t know if he has the mental make-up to be a starter in this league. His future may lie in the bullpen, but that decision won’t be made until Indians finally settle on only five starting pitchers. In his defense, I am pretty sure tonight’s home plate umpire was on some sort of hallucinogens. Calling his strike-zone inconsistent would be like saying that Isla Fisher is kind of cute. I had a nice view from right field, but it was impossible to guess the ump’s call. For a guy like Masterson, who can’t throw anything straight, this was a nightmare.
Back to the game. After Masterson lost his marbles in the top half of the fourth, the Tribe roared back with a rare five-spot in the bottom half to take a 6-4 lead. They easily could have scored more if not for a great relay from right field and a tremendous block of home plate by Matt Wieters on Choo’s bases-loaded double, keeping Cabrera from scoring. As it would turn out, they could have used a few extra runs because Masterson handed the game right back, allowing a three-run homer to Felix Pie before I even knew what was going on. From there, it became a laugher. At 11-6 in the eighth inning, Manny Acta decided that with two men on and two out it was time to bring in Hector ‘Gas Can’ Ambriz (a Rule 5 pick?!) to put out the fire that is Luke Scott’s bat. So, naturally, I told Brian to get ready to duck because it was about to be 14-6. As we both turned around and watched Scott’s homer soar over our heads, I decided it was time to stop predicting the outcomes of Orioles’ at-bats. Michael Brantley added a two-run shot in the ninth, which was nice to see, but didn’t make a bit of difference as the game ended 14-8, with baseball’s worst team on top.
A few positives from the night: I was glad to see Matt LaPorta batting clean-up. As I mentioned in my last post, I thought it was ludicrous that Acta had Jordan Brown batting before LaPorta, so it was nice to see one of my prayers answered, and Brown went 2-4 tonight showing a glimpse of his minor-league hitting prowess. Also, it is nice to say something good about Manny, because as far as I’ve been concerned this season we simply replaced Eric Wedge with a somehow less-qualified and hopefully cheaper manager. He managed the last place team in baseball two years in a row, and management decided that he was they guy they wanted?! I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising to see Valbuena in the lineup so often. If Acta could convince someone he deserves to manage again, one can only imagine what other magic he is capable of.
Note: as I finish this post, I look up and see that Cabrera’s bare-handed stab was #1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 tonight. Congrats to him, as it really was an amazing play in which the ball kicked off of Masterson and Cabrera fell while changing direction. He then grabbed the ball with his bare hand, looked the runner back to third, and threw out Felix Pie (see the play here). Unfortunately, Cabrera couldn’t reach Pie’s go-ahead bomb in the fifth.