Found April 06, 2012 on Death, Taxes, and Rebuilding:

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By: Eric Grinnell

Well, that was a memorable Opening Day! Mostly in a bad way, but hey, at least it was memorable. I wanted to give a few quick thoughts on the Good and the Bad…

The Good

1. Justin Masterson. Simply put, Masterson pitched like an ace (8 IP, 2H, 1 ER, 10 K). His fastball had its usual wicked movement and he mixed in his breaking ball extremely well. It was great to see Masterson raise his game as the “Opening Day Starter.” Just a superb performance. The only shame is that Masterson didn’t get the well-deserved win.

2. The Bullpen (Sans Chris Perez). The Bullpen Mafia continued their dominance. Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, and Tony Sipp combined to pitch 4.1 scoreless innings, while only giving up 3 hits and striking out 4. Jairo Asencio also gave the Tribe 2 scoreless innings before surrendering 3 runs in the 16th. Tough to fault Asecnio though, as he kept the Tribe alive for 2 more innings. Overall, a great performance that kept the Tribe in the game for an extra 7 innings.

3. Jack Hannahan. If there was a “star” offensively, it was Hannahan (2-6, 1 HR, 3 RBIs). Hannahan hit a 3-run bomb in the 2nd that put the Indians up 4-0 and played his usual stellar defense. This is about all you can ask for out of the #9 hitter in your lineup.

4. The Intro Music. The movie-geek in me has to mention that I loved that the Tribe used the themes to the movies Inception and Sunshine for their player introductions. Awesome movies and awesome music!

5. There are 161 games left.

The Bad

1. I shouldn’t be this mad after one game, but I have to admit, I was pretty pissed off by the end of the game. I realize there are 161 games left, but these are the types of games that the Indians have to win if they want to overtake the Tigers in the Central. Even the biased law student in me has trouble making the argument that the Indians are more talented than the Tigers and should be able to win more games than them outright—they have to take advantage of every game they have a chance to win.
But this game didn’t just frustrate the hell out of me because the Tribe lost, it was the way they lost…

2. Chris Perez. You have got to close that game out. It is Opening Day in your own stadium, your starting pitcher just pitched a gem, and your team is up by 3 runs. Yes, blown saves will happen occasionally, but this is the type of game an above-average closer comes in and shuts the door on. I don’t want to hear about how he might be hurt, or how he didn’t have enough time in Spring Training; if he is on the mound, the expectation is that he will close the game.
I’ve never been a big Chris Perez fan and I think it is sort of a fluke that he made the All-Star game last year. Personally, if this happens again in the next month or so, I think Acta should make Pestano the closer. Pestano has the bulldog mentality you need as a closer, similar stuff to Perez (mid-90s fastball when humming, maybe even a better breaking ball then Perez), but most importantly, he is way less wild. But I really think this decision needs to be made sooner rather than later.

3. Asdrubal Cabrera. I’m not going to get on Asdrubal too much, because again, it is one game. But you HAVE GOT TO GET THAT RUNNER IN WITH 1 OUT IN THE 12th. It was inexcusable that he swung at the first pitch right after Luis Perez was all over the place and walked Michael Brantley to load the bases. Take a pitch or two until he throws a strike. And if you are swinging first pitch, you better make sure you hit it out of the infield.
Here’s where I get frustrated—this was Asdrubal Cabrera, our All-Star shortstop. If Jason Donald or Shelley Duncan would have done the same thing, I still would have been pissed, but not nearly to the degree I was when this happened. All-Star players simply do not do these types of things. And to see our two All-Stars, Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera, not come through when we needed them most was extremely frustrating.

4. Casey Kotchman. Again, similar to Asdrubal–you have got to get that runner in with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th. After Perez blew the 9th, the Indians looked like they were going to comeback and win in the bottom of the inning after Pronk started the inning by hitting a single and advancing to second on an error. Aaron Cunningham then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Jason Donald (who was pinch running) over to 3rd. Kotchman then proceeded to ground out to first…Again, I hate to rip on Kotchman too much because it was one at bat in the first game of the year, but these are the plays that good teams make.
But this is what frustrated me the most; the Indians should have won this game 3 times! Perez should have closed the game out, Kotchman should have got the runner in from 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, and Asdrubal should have got the runner in from 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the 12th.

5. Everyone on Offense (Sans Jack Hannahan). The Indians were shut out in the last 14 innings. I understand that the Tribe’s lineup doesn’t have the firepower of the Angels, Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox, or Yankees, but come on. 0 runs in 15 of 16 innings? Gotta do better than that.

Alright well I’m done ranting for the day. Hopefully that is one of only a few frustrating losses by the Tribe and they bounce back this weekend. Let’s hope to see Jimenez get off to a good start!

Follow @ClevelandDTR


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