The Indians got off to slow start on Monday, getting dominated by the Mark Buehrle lead White Sox (as was predicted here), the team managed just 3 hits off of the solid lefty, while he did make an early candidate for play of the year. Wednesday night brought another tough pitching matchup against one of the best in the league, Jake Peavy. The Indians looked in over their heads early on in the match up, especially with the early struggles of Fausto Carmona. Carmona looked like he has the past 2 years, not like he did in spring training, walking the first 2 batters of the night and, luckily he got out of that first inning without giving up much damage and getting Paul Konerko to fly out for a sac fly, before ending the inning.
Carmona kept chugging along, battling a very small and inconsistent strike zone, and ended up walking 6 guys in 6 innings of work. Not how we wanted things to start for him this year, definitely not how he wanted it to start, but there was a bright spot on the night. He gave up just 1 hit, while allowing 3 runs. The walks are definitely… well and Paul Konerko. Konerko connected with a Carmona sinker and deposited it in the left field bullpen following a walk to Carlos Quentin. But we will take the good with the bad with Carmona as he journeys to re-discover his dominance. His stuff was electric all night long before he turned things over to the bullpen with a 4-3 lead.
The Indians offense finally get themselves going, scoring 3 in the 4th inning off of Peavy. Peralta doubled down the left field line, LaPorta singled and Redmond got hit by a pitch. Bases were loaded for rookie Michael Brantley. Brantley battled Peavy and blooped a single into center field, scoring Peralta and keeping the bases loaded. Cabrera, who stole a base on the night and had 2 singles, then popped up to shortstop. Sizemore came up yet again in an RBI situation, and got him some. Sizemore roped a single into right, scoring LaPorta and Redmond and tying the game up at 3 a piece. Hafner had another hard luck night at the plate, he just missed on a few swings that could have blown the game open, you could tell that he was looking for a big shot to get his season started. Later on, he blasted a powerful line drive up the middle, that was snagged by a leaping Alexei Ramirez, robbing Hafner of a base hit. In the 7th inning, before Carmona was taken out, the Indians got another run when LaPorta doubled to left center, scoring Choo.
Aaron Laffey was then brought in to bridge the gap to the late innings, and he delivered a solid outing for the 2nd game in a row. He is changing my mind about him as a reliever, I would have loved to see him in the rotation, but if he pitches this way out of the bullpen, than I have no complaints. He gave up a single to AJ Pierzynski, but got a easy double play turned by Luis Valbuena. The Indians turned in no offense in the top of the 8th, before Laffey came back out to get Juan Pierre out easily, leading to one of the set up guys coming in…. Joe Smith. Admittedly my heart skipped a beat when I saw him trotting in from the bullpen, but Smith showed the Tribe faithful exactly what made him a credible big league reliever int he first place. He retired his 2 batters easily, getting Gordon Beckham and Quentin out quickly.
The Indians started the 9th against Bobby Jenks, and quickly got to work. They started things off with a Choo getting on base for the 4th time of the night (2 singles and 2 walks) which than lead to Choo stealing his way around the bases, getting on third, while Hafner walked on 4 pitches and Peralta was also walked. Pinch-runner and defensive sub Andy Marte came up and rocketed a hard line drive to the left of third baseman Mark Teahan, who dove and stopped it from getting to the out field, allowing Choo to score while Teahan tagged out the stranded Hafner. The Tribe added a insurance run there, which was followed by Valbuena and Redmond getting out. In came Chris Perez. He did what a closer is supposed to do. He made quick work of the heart of the White Sox order, retiring the side on 19 pitches (9 balls and 10 strikes) and worked around a 1 out walk to Mark Kotsay. Perez picks up his 1st save as the place holder to Kerry Wood’s position, Fausto Carmona picked up the win in what could have been called a gem had he not run into Paul Konerko and some wild control, and the Indians pick up a 5-3 first win of the 2010 season. The Indians send Justin Masterson to the mound Wednesday night to take on Gavin Floyd, lets see if the Indians make my 2-1 series win look good by taking tonight’s finale.