Justin Masterson was the one to end the Indians’ infamous losing streak his last time out, going seven innings of two-run, three-hit ball against the Minnesota Twins and pitching like an ace. He’s facing a much better lineup here, though back in April he held the Angels to two runs over 8 ⅓ innings, back when this season was truly thrilling. Will he be able to carry over his success from last time out? That’s the big question, one we seem to ask about every pitcher on this staff. He’s the best the Indians have right now though.
C.J. Wilson is an impressive player. Not because of his numbers, which career-wise have been pretty good considering most of his pitching has been done in Texas. I’m more impressed with the size of the contract he got considering this is only his third season as a full-time starter, five years for $77.5 million. That’s ace money. But he’s been good, and pitching comfortably in his new home, though his 3.34 ERA is a bit of a ruse as he packs a 4.22 SIERA. But, he’s left-handed, and Angels Stadium is one of the best pitchers’ parks in the game. We’ve seen what happens when the Indians face a top flight lefty when they were down in Tampa, this is the same thing. Barring the arrival of a super-hitting righty, this will be a low-scoring affair on one side at least. (Hint: It’s not the side you’re hoping for.)
- Game Two: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Zack Grienke
There’s just something irritating about Ubaldo’s last start. Six innings, 10 strikeouts and three runs—it was what we want out of the guy every start, maybe another inning pitched. He does this and it’s awesome, and it’s the day the Indians fired pitching coach Scott Radinsky. You just want to go push stuff, its so baffling. But that’s Ubaldo. Hey, maybe he’ll do it again, why not, right?
To think, Indians fans everywhere were under the impression we’d never be haunted by Zack Grienke again. He and Joakim Soria were the only things the Royals’ staff had going for them the last couple years, and his being shipped to Milwaukee was a godsend. Though he’s not done so well on the Angels—19 innings with 23 hits and 12 earned runs—he had a 122 ERA+ on the Brewers and once he finds his groove it’ll be bad news for the American League.
Yes, you read that right, the hurler formerly known as Fausto Carmona is back. As Lewie remarked to me last night, it’s a little depressing that this is considered exciting at this point in the season, but our new (or old?) friend Roberto is a major league pitcher and that’s what this team is lacking. Coming into the season, before the immigration and identity problems he was supposed to eat 200 or so innings and give depth if nothing else. He was hideously bad last year, a 74 ERA+ among other miserable numbers, though his 5.25 ERA was inflated by a less than sterling defense as his SIERA was only 4.18. Not brilliant, but not hideous. He’s had a couple minors starts since returning from the Dominican Republic, which is good since he missed his chance at Spring Training to say that. He faced 100 batters over four starts in single and triple A recording a 1.19 WHIP (1.33 in two starts at Triple-A) and gave up 11 earned runs. It’s exciting because it’s like an old roommate coming back: you’re happy to see him, but it brings back some unpleasant memories. Whatever, at least he’s a professional pitcher.
The Angels still have Ervin Santana, it seems like he’s been there for a decade. It’s actually been eight years, and this is his worst season yet. He’s got a 64 ERA+, given up 28 homers to lead baseball despite pitching in that hurler’s haven in Anaheim, and is lasting less than six innings per start for only the second time in his career. Los Angeles’ bullpen is its weakest link, so Ervin isn’t doing them any favors. He’s not making himself many friends in the LA community pitching like this, Ervin is a sacred name in those parts (Earvin, but still) and he’s besmirching it. Not very cool. I’d feel safe chalking this up as a good chance for a win, but Fausterto Carmandez (Editor’s note: This is the best nickname ever.) is pitching for the Indians.
West Coast road trips are always fun for the fans; these teams seem to toil in mystery and shadow, the results of their games reported after we’ve gone to bed. Those of us east of the Mississippi anyway. So if nothing else, the exposure to a couple pretty good teams and the Mariners is a nice little blessing. Their last trip to the coast ended with a 4-2 record but it didn’t include the Angels. It’s a tough road to wander, but it’d be nice if they put up a fight. This season still has a chance, it has to. It’s only August.