Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pen coming together as Tribe tops Yanks again

Victor Martinez was the obvious hero in Saturday's Tribe win over the Yankees, but the bullpen is the reason why the Indians have taken the first two games of this series.

Martinez slapped a bases loaded single to left off of Yanks reliever Ross Ohlendorf for a 4-3 walk-off win at Progressive Field.

But this game, like last night's, turned out right because of the work done by the Tribe's bullpen - which just a week or so we said was "butt-ugly."

Masa Kobayashi worked two solid innings of relief to get his first win in the majors. Like the two Raffies on Friday, who went a combined 3 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, Kobayashi seems to be settling into his role in the Tribe's revamped pen.

With closer Joe Borowski out with an injury (and apparently not being pushed by the Tribe to come back any time soon - which is a good thing), Raffie Betancourt has regained his 2007 form - this time in the closer role.

Raffie Perez is getting seventh and eighth inning work, and is starting to resemble the pitcher we saw last season.

Knowing now that he will be called upon in important spots, Kobayashi has started to deliver on a regular basis as well.

In today's game Jensen Lewis - taking over for starter Jeremy Sowers with one out and the bags juiced in the sixth - struck out Robbie Cano for the second out but then let all three runners in on a triple to left by Jorge Posada to tie the score 3-3.

Truth is the ball was not exactly a rope and was played into a triple by David Dellucci, who got a bad jump on the ball, got over to it slowly and then made an ill-advised attempt at a diving catch. The ball got by Dellucci and the game was tied 3-3.

You just don't dive for a ball with the bases loaded while trying to protect a three-run lead. Two runs would have scored had Dellucci kept the hit to a single, but two is not three and the Tribe would still have had the lead.

(Let me digress long enough here to say that what little Dellucci is adding to the Tribe offense, it is not enough to offset his iffy defensive play and weak arm. It's time to get a real left fielder.)

Anyway, Lewis went on to pitch a reasonably decent seventh inning, getting A-Rod and Giambi, with two runners on to end the inning. I guess you could argue he got his job done - if not for Dellucci.

The Yankee pen has not been quite as good in this series. LaTroy Hawkins and Kyle Farnsworth pitched three scoreless innings today, but Ohlendorf was a disaster in the ninth.

And where was the great Joba? The New York Times reported after the game - and this is the only place I've seen this - that Chamberlain is nursing a sore hammy - which is why we didn't see him Friday either.

In any case that's two in a row against the Yanks so far this weekend - and not a bug in site.

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