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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Massacre: Indians 9, Angels 2

Joe Saunders has had five starts this season, and only one of them — the Angels' 6-3 win in Toronto — was a quality start. Think about that for a moment as you also ponder his frighteningly low 3.4 K/9 or unity K/BB ratio, not to mention a career-high 1.575 WHIP. If he's hiding an injury, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

The bad news last night began early; though Saunders got through two scoreless frames, the difference between his throwing and ex-Ray Mitch Talbot couldn't have been starker. It took Hokie Joe 21 pitches to get out of the first; it took Talbot six. The Angels' offense wasn't able to so much as get a man on base until the third, while Joe leaked base runners the whole night, including leadoff doubles in the second and third.

The Tribe scored first, picking up a couple runs in the third on Asdrubal Cabrera's leadoff double, Shin-Soo Choo's RBI single, and Austin Kerns' double. For a time, it looked as though Bobby Abreu's miscued throw to the plate on a return of Choo's single — so high that it almost looked like an error — looked like it might have been a critical failing in the game. Wouldn't the better idea have been to throw in to second? Indeed, Choo eventually did come around to score, but it's not clear whether the speedy Choo wouldn't have touched home anyway on the ensuing Kerns double.

The balance of the night was that way, Cleveland spanking Angels pitchers about every other inning to steadily put the game out of sight, culminating with a four-run eighth that demonstrated the exhausted state of the Angels' bullpen. Matt Palmer gave up five runs, and of course Scot Shields wasn't able to do much to stem the tide, either, allowing all his inherited baserunners to score. Shields owns the second-lowest swing-and-miss figures of his career (only 7% of his pitches are swung on and missed), but the really scary number is that 100% of his inherited baserunners have scored this year. That sounds high because my recollection is that he's had more inherited baserunners than one; but I suppose Austin Kerns was it last night.

The Angels had some offensive opportunities, and stating the obvious, the game might have been closer had Torii Hunter done something other than popping out to Mark Grudzielanek (he's still in the majors?) to end the third inning's two-out rally. Indicative of the night, Juan Rivera hit a laser to left with the bases loaded in the sixth; Kerns returned it so fast to second that Hideki Matsui nearly got doubled up.

Mostly, this was a get-well present to Cleveland offense; hell, reserve catcher Lou Marston got on base three times, two hits and a walk. Brandon Wood's solo homer in the ninth was the only other offense the team had, and for once (well, actually, for thrice in as many games) you couldn't attach too much blame to his normally blameful bat. Even Mike Napoli is starting to stink, and you begin to wonder — in combination with his even-more-atrocious-than-normal throws to second — whether he's hiding a shoulder injury. There's an awful lot that looks suspect about this team, and it seems to emerge just about every game, win or lose.

ESPN BoxAngels recap

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