Covering the Bases: Game 60
Reds 7, Indians 1
FIRST: I’ve always been stubborn about never using the tip-your-cap cliche. If someone says it, I will rarely, if ever, use it in a story. But on the blog? Yeah, I’ll offer up a tip o’ the cap on occasion. Why? Because there are times when you really do just need to tip your cap.
So, Johnny Cueto? Tip o’ the cap, sir.
The Indians got one run off the right-hander in the first inning on Tuesday and then he laughed his way to a complete-game victory. Nine innings with six hits scattered, seven strikeouts piled up, no walks issued, 122 pitches thrown and one overpowering win in the books.
“He just pretty much toyed with us,” Indians manager Manny Acta.
And, he was so good, the Tribe’s hitters were convinced he started controlling the strike zone.
“He expanded the zone on us really well,” said Jason Kipnis, who drove in Cleveland’s lone run with a single in the first inning. “He was using his slider backdoor and got the ump to start giving him a couple inches off [the plate]. When you start trying to worry about that pitch, and all you can do is foul it off, he would kind of come back in with a fastball in.
“He had you off-balance and it was getting hard to find the barrel on the ball. You might make contact, but not barrel it up too well. He did a good job. He pitched well tonight. There’s a reason he has his record and ERA.”
That’d be a 7-3 record with a tidy 2.46 ERA.
SECOND: This was a close game for the first six innings. That was until the Reds blew things open against the Indians’ bullpen. Joey Votto clubbed a two-run homer off Tony Sipp and then added an RBI single in a three-run push against Jeremy Accardo in the eighth.
The bullpen will have a new arrival on Wednesday, when righty Esmil Rogers is expected to join the Tribe. Cleveland swung a trade witht he Rockies on Tuesday afternoon to land Rogers’ live arm. His ERA (8.06) and WHIP (2.10) leave something to be desired, but the Indians like his fastball (96.1 mph on average this year).
So who gets bumped for Rogers (out of options)? Tribe fans might be calling for Sipp’s head, but he has been effective as a situational lefty. Righties were hitting .385 with a 1.196 OPS, but left-handed hitters were batting .163 with a .479 OPS off Sipp before Tuesday. Acta said the Indians need to keep trying to find ways to get the most out of Sipp, who has been a valuabe part of the ‘pen a few years running.
That might leave Accardo and Scott Barnes as the most vulnerable relievers.
A move is expected to come on Wednesday.
THIRD: Entering Tuesday, starter Jeanmar Gomez had posted a 9.77 ERA (17 ER/15.2 IP) with a .338 opponents’ batting average in his past three starts. On Tuesday, he gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits with four walks over five innings. Gomez threw 48 of his 92 pitches for strikes.
“It was OK,” Acta said of Gomez’s start. “Barely 50 percent of his pitches for strikes. He really battled. He deserves some credit, because he didn’t have his slider today at all and he made some pitches in some situations where he had runners in scoring position — that helped himself out. I wouldn’t qualify it as a great start, but he deserves credit.”
HOME: Votto’s seventh-inning home run marked the 57th game in a row with at least one long ball at Great American Ball Park. That is the longest active ballpark homer streak in the big leagues. Does the stadium affect the mind-set or approach of the pitchers? You bet.
“As a pitcher, it’s tough,” Sipp said. “You definitely have to change your strategy. The ball that Votto hit, it wouldn’t go out at a lot of parks. This park, that’s what you’re playing against. You know exactly what you’re playing against. That’s why you have to keep it down.”
Indians (32-28) at Reds (33-27)
at 7:10 p.m. ET Wednesday at Great American Ball Park
American League Central
1. White Sox: 34-27
2. Indians: 32-28 (1.5)
3. Tigers: 28-33 (6)
4. Royals: 25-34 (8)
5. Twins: 25-35 (9)