Showing posts with label Terry Francona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terry Francona. Show all posts

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blue Jays better start scoring some runs against the Indians' starting pitchers

Jose Bautista
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista believes "circumstances" are favoring the Cleveland Indians thus far in the ALCS.

The Indians have taken each of the first two games, by scores of 2-0 and 2-1, and the Toronto hitters apparently are getting frustrated.

“All you gotta do is look at the video and count how many times (Cleveland pitchers) throw pitches over the heart of the plate,” Bautista said Sunday, as reported by Mike Vorkunov. “They’ve been able to do that because of the circumstances -- that I’m not trying to talk about because I can’t. That’s for you guys to do, but you guys don’t really want to talk about that either.”

It sounds as if Bautista believes the umpiring is going against Toronto, and perhaps he's trying to get some calls to go his way and his teammates' way in Monday night's Game 3. Some have suggested the Blue Jays believe the series is "rigged" in favor of the Indians. That's a reach.

I personally don't think MLB rigs games, and I don't buy into the notion of curses or conspiracies. What motivation would MLB have to tell umpires to make calls favoring the Indians? Cleveland is a small-market team, and it isn't like the league stands to get a big ratings bump if the Indians advance.

All of this is foolishness, and the only circumstance working against the Blue Jays right now is their inability to hit the quality pitching being run out there by the Indians. Toronto is a dead fastball hitting team, and Cleveland has a bunch of pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- who can make quality pitches with their breaking balls.

The Indians' bullpen has been nothing short of spectacular. As a group, they've allowed just two earned runs in 16.1 IP this postseason, and they've been facing good offenses, too -- Boston and now Toronto. That will pencil out to a 1.10 ERA. And, oh, Cleveland relievers have struck out 27 men in those 16-plus innings.

Left-hander Andrew Miller, of course, has been the main reason for that. He's struck out 17 and is unscored upon in 7.2 postseason innings this season. He's formed an unhittable bridge between the Cleveland starters and closer Cody Allen, who has pitched four scoreless innings in the playoffs.

Manager Terry Francona has shown he's not afraid to go to Miller as early as the fifth or sixth inning. He can do that because he has another dominant option in Allen, and two other pretty good middle relief options in Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero. Cleveland has the deepest bullpen of the remaining four teams, for sure.

As we've mentioned before, the Indians' shortcoming is the injuries to their starting pitchers. Corey Kluber is the ace, and he's been tremendous: He's allowed nothing in the postseason. But with Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco sidelined, Cleveland is forced to rely more upon Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer than it would like.

But Tomlin was really good in Game 2, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings. He's a breaking ball pitcher, and he used that pitch effectively against the Toronto hitters. He's not overpowering, and he sure as heck wasn't going to give Toronto too many fastballs to hit. Smart pitching.

The Blue Jays will face Bauer in Game 3, and I'd recommend they think less about the umpiring and figure out a way to score early -- before Miller, Shaw and Allen, et al., become involved in the game. Wouldn't hurt, either, if someone from that lineup could do some damage against a curve ball or a slider. The Indians are going to keep throwing them until the Blue Jays show they can hit them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Was Monday's comeback win a slumpbuster for the White Sox?

If you watched Monday's game between the White Sox and the Cleveland Indians, you know it was looking like another lifeless loss for the South Siders.

The Sox were limited to no runs on four hits over the first eight innings by the combination of Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and two relievers, and the Indians took a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead into the ninth.

But it all unraveled from there for closer Cody Allen and the Tribe, as the Sox rallied for a 4-3 win. Chicago had six hits in the ninth inning, and it benefited from a tactical error by Indians manager Terry Francona and just poor pitching by Allen.

The key play came with one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth, when Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez sent a deep drive into center field. Francona had started Mike Aviles, an infielder by trade, in center field and inexplicably allowed him to remain in the game late, despite his regular center fielder (Michael Bourn) presumably being available off the bench.

I think Bourn makes the catch on Ramirez's ball for the second out of the inning, but he wasn't out there. Aviles was, and he took an odd route to the ball and seemingly didn't know where the wall was. He pulled up short, and the ball hit the base of the fence for a two-run double that brought the Sox within a run at 3-2.

Allen would completely implode from there, failing to record another out. Tyler Flowers, Gordon Beckham, Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera delivered four consecutive singles, with Beckham's hit tying the game and Cabrera's winning it.

The victory improved the Sox record to 5-7, which strangely sounds a lot better than 4-8, although it's only a one-game difference. The question is whether a come-from-behind win like this can get the Sox going for the first time this year.

Well, it depends a lot on Tuesday night's starting pitcher, Hector Noesi. Quite a few Sox fans had hoped Saturday's 12-3 thumping of the Detroit Tigers was the slumpbuster Chicago was looking for. Unfortunately, any "momentum" from that victory dissipated quickly when Jose Quintana gave up a grand slam to Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning Sunday. The Tigers waxed the Sox, 9-1, in that game and put any thoughts of  Chicago building on Saturday's win to rest.

After the inspired rally on Monday, the Sox are once again in position to potentially get something started. If they get a good outing from Noesi on Tuesday, maybe they will. But the joy of Monday's win won't mean a thing if Noesi goes out and gives up four or five runs early in the game.

The Sox need their starting pitcher to put up some zeroes early, and if they can score in the early innings against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, then maybe things will start to snowball their way.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'll be the jerk who says it: I don't like baseball's replay system

I always cringe when I hear commentators mention that baseball's new instant replay system is "working." Really? It works sometimes, sure, but there are other times when it is aggravating as hell.

I had one of those moments Saturday as I watched the White Sox play the Cleveland Indians. Let it be said the Sox came away with a 6-2 victory, so this isn't going to be one those sour grapes "the umpires cost us the game" blogs. However, a pair of calls went against the Sox in the bottom of the seventh inning that left me shaking my head with regard to this replay system.

The Sox were up 3-0 at the time. There was a man at first with one out. Sox reliever Zach Putnam was pitching to Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes. On a 1-2 count, Putnam bounced a splitter that Gomes swung at and missed. Strike three, right? Nope.

Gomes claimed he had foul-tipped the pitch. He sold it well, and the umpire bought the act. Replay showed he clearly swung and missed. It should have been the second out of the inning. Sox manager Robin Ventura came out to protest, but to no avail. Such calls aren't reviewable under MLB's instant replay system. The umpire's incorrect call stood, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

The at-bat continued and Gomes hit a sinking liner to left field that Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo scooped up off the outfield grass. Viciedo claimed he made the catch. He sold it well, and the umpires bought it. They called Gomes out. Only problem was, the call was wrong. Viciedo trapped the ball, and it should have been a base hit.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona protested the call. This one was reviewable, and admittedly, it was correctly reversed. Gomes was awarded first. The inning continued, and the Indians eventually scored a two-out run to slice the Sox lead to 3-1. Reliever Javy Guerra finally struck shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera out with the bases loaded to protect the lead.

If Gomes had been called out on strikes like he should have been, the inning would have been over two batters sooner, and the Indians would not have scored.

Here's where my frustration lies: The system "worked" on that second call when the Indians were wronged. But when the umpire made an incorrect call moments before that hurt the White Sox, the system could do nothing for them. That's irritating.

I hear all the time that the objective of the system is "to get it right." I hear all the time that "we have the technology, so let's use it." Both are noble sentiments. Who could disagree with either? But it seems to me the league only "wants to get it right" and "use the technology" in certain situations.

Why shouldn't the first call with Gomes be reviewable? We have the technology to get it right, no? As a fan, it's really frustrating when the system works for the other team and not for yours. I'm sure fans of all teams, not just the White Sox, have had a moment at some point this season where they've been completely baffled by a replay review (or non-review) that went against their team.

I don't think this system is working as well as many claim it is. As a matter of fact, I would categorize it as a disappointment. It should work better than it does.