The job of 'Cleveland Indians pitcher' has been a solitary experience so far in 2009. This point was emphasized today when Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter all hit solo home runs to give the New York Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Anthony Reyes proved to be the model of inefficiency. Reyes only gave up three runs on five hits, but three of those five hits were solo home runs to Teixera, Damon, Cabrera. Reyes also managed to walk three, while striking out only one. Reyes faced 23 batters yesterday, 18 of which he started with a ball. Reyes had to be pulled after the fifth inning after throwing 91 pitches, only 47 of which were strikes. An already overused bullpen again had to suffer a seemingly over matched group of starting pitchers.
Zach Jackson was brought in to start the sixth, and promptly gave up another solo shot, this time to Robinson Cano. Vinnie Chaulk was brought in in the seventh inning. He promptly walked Johnny Damon, who then scored when Chaulk threw a Mark Teixeira grounder wide of first base. Jensen Lewis ended up the goat, giving up the solo home run to Derek Jeter in the eighth inning, on a hanging fastball.
In the meantime, Cleveland's offense was more than giving to the Tribe starting pitchers what they needed to win. Mark DeRosa hit a solo shot of his own in the top of the first, to give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead. After the Yanks took a 2-1 lead on the back-to-back homers by Damon and Teixeira, Cleveland rebounded in the fourth after walks by Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo, and a single by Ben Francisco that tied the score at 2. Cleveland rebounded again in the fifth inning after the Cabrera homer, scoring three runs on three hits and a walk. A DeRosa singled scored Asdrubal Cabrera. VMart then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Grady Sizemore. After Hafner lined out, Ryan Garko doubled, scoring DeRosa, and giving the Indians a 5-3 lead.
Unfortunately, solo homers and errors cost the Indians the win.
Cleveland's offense again rebounded in the ninth, only to have a ridiculous strike call end the game. Tony Graffanino and Asdrubal Cabrera had back-to-back singles, and with two outs, Mark DeRosa stepped to the plate against Mariano Rivera. DeRosa worked the count to 3-2 on five cutters that were all inside. The sixth pitch was up and away, and out of the strike zone. That didn't stop a called third strike on a check swing. It wasn't a strike, but that's part of baseball I suppose.
Joba Chamberlain was merely average today. It seems as though his off the field troubles, as well as the rest of the league, has caught up with the former future star. Chamberlain gave up five runs, thanks to five walks and six hits. He lasted only 4 2/3 of an inning. Perhaps Chamberlain is best used as a reliever.
The starting pitching needs to get better, and fast. Fausto Carmona is on the hill today against Chien-Ming Wang. The good news for the Indians is that Wang is pitching like a Tribe starter, having gone 0-2 with a near 30 ERA. Carmona's ERA is sitting a a paltry 9. This game could get quite offensive.