PREGAME: As I start to write up today’s game thread, I realize the team has split the first 2 games of a series quite frequently. Basically every series since their first 2.
Today it will be Justin Verlander who is coming off his best start of the season. We’ll see if the stuff is there again, and it better be because the Indians can beat up Verlander pretty good. He has a 4-10 career mark against Cleveland and they’ve hit him at an 837 OPS clip.
The Indians send out their ace as well, lefty Cliff Lee. Clifton Phifer Lee was shelled in his first 2 starts, but has posted 3 quality starts since then allowing 3 runs in his last 20 innings.
One thing to watch today, Inge has hit Lee to the tune of 400/471/633 in 34 plate appearances. Inge is also riding that consecutive games on base streak. Things look favorable for him today in terms of match-up, but will these be one of those paradoxical baseball things where he gets stymied?
Inge might get an extra shot for his streak as he moves up one spot in the order with Gerald Laird getting the day off.
POSTGAME: Verlander’s fastball was the story of this game. He rode his high 90’s heater to 11 strikeouts, good enough to put him on top of the AL leaderboard. It was simply a matter of overpowering the Indians hitters. It wasn’t fancy, it was just raw heat. He’d mix in a curve or change early in the count, but more often than not it was the fastball that either had Cleveland frozen or waving at air. It was beautiful.
And when Verlander did get in trouble in the 7th inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out, it was more domination. His last 7 fastballs AVERAGED 99.25mph. As Rod Allen would say, that’s some serious cheese. He went to that cheese 79 times today, 55 for strikes and 11 of the swing-and-miss variety (plus 2 foul tips into the glove).
Bobby Seay was a little shaky for the second straight day, but Joel Zumaya came in and induced a bullet right at Adam Everett. Fernando Rodney finished things off with a 1-2-3 9th inning on 12 pitches.
As for the offense, it was Brandon Inge again going deep. Everybody had a hit except for Guillen and Raburn. Guillen hit the ball well in 3 of his at-bats, but right at the right fielder every time.
This one felt good, and in what was a very up and down week finishing the week 3-3 isn’t so bad.