by Ryan Isley
Just when it looked like the Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne was going to be the funniest thing on television this week, the Cleveland Indians took the field at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday night.
The issues this season have been that the Indians have gotten inconsistent starting pitching, have been anemic offensively, have shown a lack of concentration on defense and were led by a manager in Manny Acta who seemed to not know what was going on at times in the game.
There were fans watching this game that may not have been watching a lot of Indians baseball of late because Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) was making his 2012 debut for the Indians after serving his suspension from Major League Baseball for falsifying information to get into the country.
After a very effective first inning in which Henandez shut down the Angels in order, it was on to the top of the second inning, and the next 30 minutes became a microcosm of the Indians 2012 season. What happened in that next half hour was something that even the best comedians at the Roseanne Roast could not have scripted.
Top of the second inning:
10:23: STO shows the night’s highlight of the previous game – a homerun that Michael Brantley hit against the Angels on Tuesday night. Matt Underwood announces the highlight with “Brantley juices one off Zack Greinke.” Of course, this is just hours after San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
10:24: Brantley then lines out to right fielder Torii Hunter.
10:26: Casey Kotchman grounds out to first baseman Mark Trumbo to end the inning quickly for the Indians. All in all, the Indians made Angels pitcher Ervin Santana throw just 11 pitches in the inning.
That was when the real fun started happening.
Bottom of the second inning:
10:29: On the fifth pitch of the inning, Underwood says “Carmona, Hernandez rather wanted that pitch.” It’s gonna be one of those nights for Matt it looks like. Someone might want to see if Matt can borrow Harry Doyle’s drink for the evening.
10:30: Kendrys Morales gets a single by hitting it right through the shift. Yes – the Indians had an extra infielder on the right side of the infield and Morales was still able to put it between Jason Kipnis and Brent Lillibridge.
10:33: Hernandez leaves a changeup middle of the plate on a 2-2 pitch and Mark Trumbo makes him pay by hitting line drive single to left. Looks like Hernandez is already in midseason form, even if it is his first big league start of the year.
10:34: On the second pitch to Alberto Callaspo, Hernandez unleashes a wild pitch that allows Morales to move to third and Trumbo to second. It was the 53rd wild pitch for the Indians this season, the highest in the majors. At least they lead the league in something.
10:34: On the very next pitch, Callaspo slaps a single to left, scoring Morales and moving Trumbo to third to make it 1-0 Angels. Who didn’t see that coming?
10:36: Vernon Wells hits a double play ball to Brent Lillibridge, but Lillibridge fumbles it twice and everyone is safe as Trumbo scores to make it 2-0 Angels. Instead of 2-0 Angels and nobody on base, it is 2-0 with runners on first and second. Lillibridge couldn’t have shown worse hands on that play even if he was a victim on Shark Week.
10:37: On the first pitch of his at-bat, Izturis drops a bunt down the first base line. Hernandez, Santana and Kotchman all go for it, Santana hesitates and again everyone is safe and bases are loaded. Underwood: “I think (Santana) thought maybe Fausto was going to grab it.” We really couldn’t have just gotten Jeff Ross to do the game?
10:39: Hernandez finally gets an out, but gives up another run as Chris Iannetta flies out to Brantley in center to score Callaspo and make it 3-0 Angels.
10:40: Mike Trout hits a bouncer to Jack Hannahan at third. Hannahan quickly goes to Kipnis at second, but they can’t turn the double play because Trout is just too fast. The play puts runners on first and third but the Indians have two outs and can get out of the inning. The lesson as always – speed kills. Of course the Indians wouldn’t really know because the only speedster they have – Ezequiel Carrera – doesn’t have the talent to take advantage of the speed.
10:41: On the first pitch to Erick Aybar, Trout takes off for second. Santana throws through but throws way off line. Lillibridge has to dive back towards shortstop to stop the ball. He does so, but then throws home because Wells took off on Santana’s throw. Lillibridge makes a throw that even Derek Anderson would have thought was terrible, allowing Trout to go to third and Wells to score.
Let’s summarize that play (on which the ball was not put in play): the Indians had two bad throws, allowed a runner from first to get to third and allowed the runner from third to score. A stolen base and two errors on the play and the Angels lead 4-0.
10:43: After that fiasco, the 1-1 pitch to Aybar is called a strike. Santana and Hernandez think it is strike three and start to walk off the field. When informed it was only strike two, the players returned to the field. Manny Acta then came out to talk to home plate umpire Greg Gibson. Yes, the same Manny Acta that rarely comes out to argue even when his players are right came out of the dugout to ask about the count because nobody in the Indians dugout apparently knew. Does Manny have ADD? Maybe someone can hook him up with some Adderall. Know of anyone in Cleveland that could help?
10:44: And of course Aybar rips a triple down the right field line on the very next pitch, scoring Trout and making it 5-0 Angels. If you didn’t know that was going to happen, you haven’t been watching the Indians this season.
10:45: Torii Hunter pops up to short right field and Kipnis catches it to end the inning after almost not being able to find the ball. It was the second straight inning that Hunter made the last out, meaning he should probably go ahead and get his checkbook out for Kangaroo Court.
So how would the Indians respond to the flood gates being opened? Pretty much how you would expect.
Top of the third inning:
10:48: Lillibridge hits a weak line drive to shortstop Aybar.
10:49: Hannahan hits a pop up to left field that Aybar catches.
10:50: Carrera hits a 2-1 pitch on a line to Aybar.
The Indians saw just 20 pitches total in the second and third innings and went six up, six down around the Angels five-run second inning.
The entire half hour should have just been played with circus music in the background and commercials for the Bad News Bears between innings. The Little League World Series started on ESPN Thursday afternoon and those 12-year-olds showed more knowledge of baseball fundamentals than we have seen from the Indians this season.
The Indians haven’t been taken seriously for some time now, as they are just 10-23 since the All-Star break. But Wednesday night was the perfect example of why this team was more than just one player away from being a contender this season.
No worries though – there are still four chances to see fireworks at Progressive Field this season. Just don’t expect them to be from the Indians offense.
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