Indians baffled by inability to hit Dice-K
SEP 08, 2013 6:42p ET
The guy they call Dice-K had been in spring training with the Indians, and spent most of the season at Triple-A Columbus.
They knew he was slow and deliberate, and they knew he paused at the top of his windup.
They knew he’d throw in the 80s, with his fastball maybe hitting 88 mph.
They also knew that he started Sunday’s game with a 10.95 ERA, having given up 15 runs in 12 1/3 innings since he joined the Mets.
They knew all of that.
But what they didn’t know was that they would not be able to hit him. And the looks on their faces after the game showed they were as much perplexed as they were frustrated at their inability to score on a guy who seemed ripe to give up runs when the game began.
“He held us down,” Drew Stubbs said after a frustrating 2-1 loss. “But he wasn’t featuring anything that we shouldn’t have handled fairly well. I don’t know, we just couldn’t seem to get anything going.”
“It wasn’t like we hadn’t seen him,” said Michael Bourn.
“You can’t get too dialed up against him because he tries to control the at-bat,” said Jason Giambi, whose bloop single in the ninth was the 2,000th hit of his career. “He takes his time. He knows what he wants to throw. He’s a veteran pitcher. He throws everything for a strike. It’s hard to have a good game plan and reel off a bunch of hits because he really slows down the momentum.”
Well, it was hard for the Indians to deal with him, because in games against Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta, Matsuzaka gave up five, four and six runs.
The Indians got three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings, and struck out six times against a guy whose highest reading on the gun was 89.
“We hit some balls good off of him, man,” Bourn said. “Today was a bad day for hitting. It was going to be one of those games for hitting. As soon as I got out there I knew it. Even they hit some balls. The wind was going to hold it up bad.”
As Stubbs pointed out, there was a stiff wind blowing in from right and center field that held up some balls, but it never really seemed like the Indians got a bead on Matsuzaka. That seemed to set the tone for the day as their only score came when Asdrubal Cabrera was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth.
In another bases-loaded situation in the eighth, Cabrera grounded into a double play to end the inning. So much for Cabrera getting going with that home run he hit on Saturday.
In the ninth, manager Terry Francona used his closer Chris Perez, the strategy to keep the score tied and give the Indians a chance to win in the ninth. Didn’t happen.
Perez gave up a run on two line drives that weren’t affected by the wind and took his third loss (against five wins). In his last three outings, Perez has given up four earned runs on five hits in three innings -- a 12.00 ERA.
In the ninth, Giambi led off with a single, but pinch-runner Mike Aviles was thrown out trying to steal second and one pitch later the game was over. Aviles was tossed for arguing the call and after the game was still visibly upset.
“We needed to come back and tie that,” Giambi said.
“Ain’t nothing you can about it,” Bourn said. “We lost.”
Again, there was more anger and frustration than resignation. And perhaps even a little bit of wonder at the Indians inability to beat a guy who seemed beatable.
The Indians and Baltimore are tied in the wild card chase, and though the Indians missed a chance to pick up ground they did win two of three from the Mets. They have won four of five and five of seven.
“We wanted the sweep though,” Bourn said.
It’s that time of year.
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