Thursday, June 5, 2014

Game of the Day (6/4/14)

Indians 7, Red Sox 4 (12). Cleveland's Corey Kluber faced Boston's Brandon Workman in a matchup of pitchers who fall into the general category "reasonably young right-handers who do not seem to be stars but are pretty OK."

Kluber worked around a Dustin Pedroia single in the top of the first, and the Indians picked up a run in the bottom of the inning when Asdrubal Cabrera singled, stole second, and scored on Michael Brantley's single. AJ Pierzynski led off the top of the second with a double; Kluber recorded two outs without advancing him, but then hit Daniel Nava with a pitch and threw a wild one that moved the runners to second and third. Jackie Bradley then struck out to end the inning, leaving the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

Workman was perfect in the second and third, with Kluber matching his effort in the latter inning. David Ortiz and Brantley each led off a half of the fourth with a single, but neither team put any subsequent runners on. Kluber was perfect again in the fifth, while Workman walked Yan Gomes but stranded him.

Boston finally scored in the sixth when Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch and Ortiz homered to take a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the inning, a Cabrera walk and a Brantley single ended Workman's outing. Chris Capuano relieved and gave up a game-tying single to Jason Kipnis; Lonnie Chisenhall then reached on a bunt hit to load the bases and David Murphy singled in a pair of runs to put Cleveland in front 4-2. Burke Badenhop took the mound and got Gomes to ground into an out at home, then coaxed a double play from Jason Giambi to end the inning.

The Sox rallied once more in the seventh when Stephen Drew walked, Nava singled, Bradley bunted the runners over, and Brock Holt singled to score both of them and tie it at 4. Scott Atchison supplanted Kluber and retired the next two hitters to preserve the tie, and Badenhop combined with Craig Breslow on a spotless bottom of the inning. Nick Hagadone and John Axford managed three quick outs between them in the top of the eighth, and Breslow kept the bases clear in the bottom of the inning as well. Axford recorded the first out of the ninth, with Josh Outman getting the next two (despite a Bradley single) and Junichi Tazawa notching the final three (while allowing a Giambi double), forcing extras.

Bryan Shaw yielded a lone single to Ortiz in the top of the tenth; Koji Uehara gave up nothing at all in the bottom of the inning. Carlos Carrasco plunked Jonny Gomes in the top of the eleventh, while Uehara walked Kipnis, but neither pitcher allowed a hit, so the game remained tied. Carrasco was perfect in the twelfth; Edward Mujica got one out, but then allowed singles to Mike Aviles and Michael Bourn, followed by a walkoff three-run homer to Cabrera.

Both starters had acceptable outings, but both were severely outshined by their respective bullpens. Cleveland, in particular, got 5.2 scoreless innings from its relief corps, which allowed two hits and no walks while striking out 10. That production is slightly out of the ordinary, but not by too much, since the first five relievers the team used all have ERAs of 3.63 or lower, with four of them below 2.80. The Red Sox were nearly as good, but they had the disadvantage of having pulled their starter an inning earlier, which meant that they turned to their weak link (Mujica, who entered the game with a 6.10 ERA and left it at 7.29) sooner.

Despite all the rally-free innings pitched by relievers, this was a quality game. I'll be watching one of the two teams in person in just a couple of days, so hopefully they haven't exhausted their excitement quota for the week.

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