Covering the Bases: Game 30
FIRST: It was bound to happen. After posting a 2.14 ERA between Spring Training and the regular season, Jeanmar Gomez was due for a rough outing. It’s the law of averages. Granted, giving up eight runs (and six in one inning) is not the type of regression I was anticipating.
But, that’s what happened on Wednesday night and it cost the Indians. Gomez surrendered a two-run homer to Adam Dunn (his 10th of the year, a total Dunn didn’t reach until July 26 a year ago) in the first inning and then allowed six runs in the decisive fourth. Gomez’s season ERA soared from 2.82 to 4.66.
All of that said, allow me to tip my cap to Mr. Gomez. Following that fourth inning, he logged 2 2/3 solid innings to help save the bullpen. In fact, after Gordon Beckham’s sac fly, which rounded out the scoring in the fourth, Gomez retired 9 of the final 11 hitters he faced. That’s you leave on a high note.
Jairo Asencio followed suit with 2 1/3 shutout innings, which helped Cleveland give its main bullpen guys another day of rest. That’s big heading into a four-game set in Boston, where we all know games can get out of hand in a hurry.
SECOND: This is where I could pile on the Indians’ offense, but it’s hard to do that when the pitcher who did the silencing tonight was Jake Peavy. He’s baseball’s latest renaissance man, going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA thus far and looking like the Cy Young winner of old. On Wednesday, Peavy allowed one run over seven innings, marking the fifth time he’s given two runs or fewer in his seven starts.
That said, Cleveland went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Not that anyone is counting, but the Tribe is 1-for-17 with RISP in its past two games and 4-for-25 over its past three games. Cleveland did get a run in with the bases loaded in the seventh, but it was with a groundout. So that makes the Indians 5-for-32 with the bags juiced this year. Again, not that anyone’s counting.
THIRD: In the middle of Chicago’s six-run fourth, left fielder Johnny Damon came up empty on a fly ball at the wall off Alexei Ramirez’s bat. Damon said it was a ball he should have had and he was candid in his comments, throwing a lot of the blame on his shoulders on Wednesday night.
As for handling balls at the 19-foot wall in Progressive Field, here’s what Damon had to say:
“Other outfielders told me that the ball dies as soon as it gets to the wall. That’s exactly what it did. I was preparing to leap and go up against the wall and it came back when I went for it. It very well could’ve and should’ve been a homer, but the balls do die out there. … I started my jump too soon. I definitely have to get better at going back on the ball. It seems like I’m all right coming in for the balls right now. Learning to play here, it is an adjustment, but we’ll be fine.”
HOME: Damon also went 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, making him 1-for-14 over his past three games. Since joining the Tribe, the 38-year-old veteran has hit .167 and no one is more disappointed in his performance that himself. Damon did praise Peavy, but only to a point.
“He was definitely aggressive with the strike zone,” Damon said. “He was going up, down, in and out. He was close with all of his pitches and sometimes you get the benefit of the doubt when you’re pitching like that, when you’re being aggressive.
“That’s no reason for me to be struggling like this. A lot of it falls on my shoulders. I’m the leadoff guy and I’ve been pretty awful. It affects the guys coming up, the guys who drive the runs in — [Jason] Kipnis and [Asdrubal] Cabrera. I definitely need to get it going.”
Maybe shipping up to Boston will help.
Indians (17-13) at Red Sox (12-18)
at 7:10 p.m. ET on Thursday at Fenway Park