The Cleveland Indians rode the arms of Carl Pavano and Kerry Wood to victory last night, as the Tribe beat the Detroit Tigers 6-5 at Detroit's Comerica Park Friday Night.
The Indians signing of Carl Pavano to an incentive-laden, $1.5 million dollar deal this past offseason didn't exactly set the corner of Ontario and Carnegie on fire. The big right-hander hadn't been an effective starter in more than four years, and there wasn't much data suggesting that he was going to turn things around with the Indians. This theory was supported by his bloated, spring training ERA of near 10, followed by an equally uninspiring 0-3 start to the season.
Pavano may have turned the corner.
The new Indians starter pitched 7 1/3 strong innings last night, giving up only five hits, two runs, without a walk, while striking out three. It was his longest start since May of 2005 when he pitched a complete game shutout for the Yankees. Pavano did a nice job working the corners, and for the first time this season, seemed able to locate his pitches, especially his slider. He also managed to be extremely efficient, throwing only 97 pitches.
This is the Pavano that the Indians need. What Pavano needs to provide for the Tribe's starting staff is an arm that can go past the seven inning mark to help save a bullpen that has been less than stellar so far in 2009. Up until this point, he didn't look a think like that pitcher, regardless of what many other sources have been saying. Other than a start against the Yankees in which he was likely pumped full of adrenaline, Pavano's been a dog in 2009, with a near 10 ERA.
Hopefully this start against the Tigers is a trend, and not the exception.
I'm sure there are many that think keeping Perez with the big club is the route to go. Normally, I would agree with that sentiment. Too often in the past, Shapiro's handling of young pitchers has resembled more of a yo-yo than a GM, bouncing them from the Indians to the triple A club numerous times. Shapiro and Wedge seem to be trying something a bit different with Perez this year by keeping him with the big club to work out his problems with Indians pitching coach, Carl Willis. Last night's start may have been a major step back.
Perez relieved Pavano with one out in the eighth after Pavano had given up a run and two doubles. Perez only managed to throw three pitches. The second pitch was an infield single to the speedy Curtis Granderson, moving Brandon Inge to third. The third pitch was a Placido Polanco single that scored a run. It was the last batter he faced, giving him another outing without recording an out.
It's not that Perez pitched poorly, the kid only threw three pitches. It's not as though the two hits were moon shots that went out of the stadium. No, we're talking about two singles, one of them of the infield variety. What worries me most at this stage Perez is starting to get to that place where he thinks every bad thing that could happen to a player, will happen. The head games are the graveyard for pitching careers. It may be time to send the young lefty down to Columbus to get things straight.
I know having Willis standing next to him while he's throwing is helpful, but it's not like we live in 1807. There is such a thing as video feeds and telephones. Let Perez regain his confidence in Columbus, not Cleveland.
I like Jensen Lewis, and really want this kid to succeed. He seems to have Tom Mastny disease though. He struggles...a lot. The problem is that he goes through these stretches of looking really good, that you can't quite put your finger on what kind of pitcher he'll be. His ceiling appears to be that of a closer. His basement seems to be Fernando Cabrera. Right now, he's pitching like the latter. He may need to spend some time in Columbus as well.
I wish the Indians had never signed David Dellucci. Apparently in some retort to my lashing of the Indians bringing up the outfielder yesterday, Dellucci had perhaps his best offensive game since joining the Tribe as a free agent. He went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a run yesterday. The Indians are only better with Dellucci playing well, so I'm not rooting against the guy. That said, I'll believe this offense when I see it more than once.
This is the brilliance of Kerry Wood. He threw nine pitches in a perfect ninth inning. He's a closer, with a closer's mentality. He's had a brutal week in many respects, but you could never tell while Wood was on the mound last night. He's worth every cent.
Aaron Laffey is on the hill today against Zach Miner. Looking forward to seeing Laffey continue his brilliant 2009 campaign.