The Tribe squandered a great pitching effort by Jake Westbrook, coming up on the short end of a 2-1 game with the Chicago White Sox.
Westbrook held the Sox to two runs on six hits and one walk in 7 & 1/3 innings. He made two crucial mistakes—falling behind Juan Uribe in the 6th and Joe Crede in the 8th, yielding a pair of solo of home runs which saddled him with a loss. Jensen Lewis rebounded from a rocky opener to pitch a scoreless 1 2/3 innings of relief to close out the game.
On offense, the Indians just couldn't solve young White Sox RHP John Danks or the Chicago bullpen as they managed only two hits and one run on the afternoon.
The Tribe's only offensive threat of the game came in the bottom of the 7th after Ryan Garko doubled home Travis Hafner on a ball barely out of reach from RF Jermaine Dye. Dye and CF Nick Swisher then collided, letting a routine pop fly fall, giving the Indians runners on second and third with one out. But they were unable to capitalize.
As disappointing as missing the sweep was the pitching performances in the last two games were exciting to see. Yesterday, before Westbrook's strong performance, Fausto Carmona battled the cold and some control issues to shut down the White Sox. Carmona allowed one run on four hits and four walks but induced three timely double plays on a night where he didn't have his best stuff.
One fly ball out in seven innings says it all as Carmona kept the Sox hitters flustered all night.
Masa Kobayashi made his Indians debut with a couple of hits and a strikeout in a 1/3 inning of work Wednesday night, as looked sketchy at best. The Indians will be patient with Kobayashi as they admit there will be an adjustment period to the American game.
Rafael Perez came on to administer a couple of timely Ks to work out of Kobayashi's jam. Jorge Julio pitched the 9th and labored through it—two hits, including a home run, a walk and a lot of pitches.
I expect his leash to be short like Roberto Hernandez's last year as the Indians have plenty of young arms in Buffalo and Akron itching to get the call.
Grady Sizemore led the offense change on Wednesday and looked like he may be ready to take that proverbial leap to the next level. Three for four with two runs, three hits, (including a triple) a hit-by-pitch and a two-out two-run single to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.
Not far behind him was Asdrubal Cabrera with a 3-5 outing and a couple of RBIs. If the As-Man can avoid the dreaded "sophomore slump" he may find himself in the No. 2 hole more often than not and provide the Indians with a little more production than they anticipated.
It's off to the West Coast for the 2-1 Indians for a pair of three game sets with the A's and Angels. It will be interesting to see if Paul Byrd is Paul Byrd circa 2006 or 2007 and if Cliff Lee can bounce back from a season from hell.
Maybe the warm weather will wake up the Tribe bats, as it's very difficult to win with only two hits. An appearance from Pronk rather than Travis Hafner would be nice as well. A good early season test for the Erie Warriors.
It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.