Well, Shingo Takatsu decided to do his best Bob Wickman imitation yesterday, serving up three home runs in the 9th inning. While Casey Blake is a decent power threat, the fact that he gave up taters to both Coco Crisp and Ronnie Belliard suggests that Takatsu was just throwing “hit me” fastballs.
Cliff Lee was horrible in his first start of the season. As usual, his problems stemmed from his lack of control. Yes, he only walked one batter, but he also fell behind almost every hitter he faced, and when that happens, even the best get hit hard. Lee’s great stuff make outings like these so frustrating; you know he’s *this* close to being a very good starting pitcher, but a simple lack of control is keeping him from making a giant leap forward.
Of course the good news is that after Lee left the game, the White Sox didn’t score again. Betancourt looked outstanding, striking out four in his 2.2 innings, as did Riske, Howry, Rhodes, and Miller. The only two that didn’t pitch in the game were Bob Wickman and Scott Sauerbeck, who may have some arm issues. The best stat (at least by my tastes) is this: after Lee left the game, Indians pitchers did not walk a single batter. Making hitters earn their way on base is a key to successful bullpen, and the five pitchers today followed it.
The Indians did benefit from some of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s moves earlier in the game. He used three relievers in the seventh inning, which left him short after the Indians sent the game to extra innings. Luis Vizcaino was the last arm available by the 10th, and after the Indians had scored 6 runs in the 11th, backup catcher Chris Widger was warming up.