Game #3 – Toronto Blue Jays (2-0) vs. Cleveland Indians (0-2)
By Matthew Van Wormer
Today, the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays will attempt something neither one of them has done in 2012; finish a game in the standard nine innings. Once again, Toronto and Cleveland went to extra innings to decide Saturday’s game, with the Blue Jays getting the win in 12 innings, 7-4.
The Cleveland offense, like Thursday’s opener, was not as present as it should have been in the second game of the year. Chris Perez bounced back, pitching a 1-2-3 inning, but Tony Sipp couldn’t keep the birds scoreless in the 12th, as Cleveland surrendered four runs in the top half of the frame.
In Sunday’s finale, one of the newest faces in the wigwam will take the hill to try and salvage at least one win in the series against Toronto. Derek Lowe (9-17, 5.05 ERA in 2011) will be on the mound looking to put a stamp on his arrival in a positive way. The veteran righty had a decent spring and will try to show the Cleveland faithful that the chance the team is taking on him is a good one.
The Blue Jays will counter with Joel Carreno, a right-hander, who will be making his first career start. If ever there was a time for the Indians offense to show some kind of spark, this will be it. Tribe hitters will have to jump on the youngster early and often and show some signs of life that have been missing since they came back from their 13-0 win over the Carolina Mudcats.
In two games this season, the bullpen has been taxed more than would be assumed. A strong, 7+ inning start by Lowe would go a long way to keep the bullpen healthy and strong as well as give them the time they need to get into the real swing of the season. Winning this one, and winning it in regulation, will be the top priority of the Tribe when they take the field on Sunday.
Asdrubal Cabrera seemed to get himself going on Saturday, going 2 for 4, including a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth that took the Tribe to extra innings for the second time in as many games. Another new addition, Casey Kotchman, is still looking for his first hit in a Cleveland uniform. He may already be pressing as the pressure to break through starts mounting. However, his defense at first base has been more than the Tribe could have asked for, compared to what they got in 2011.
Lowe, and the rest of the Indians staff, will try to keep Jose Bautista at bay, who is already in mid-season form and looking to wreak havoc on every pitch that enters his wheelhouse. It’s going to take an entire team effort for the Indians to get their first win on the season, heading into the Chicago series on a high note.
The Indians are definitely going to put everything together at some point. It would be great if they could do it during their Easter Sunday game and escape this series with a win. Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson both deserve to be 1-0 after outstanding performances in back to back games. Hopefully, Derek Lowe will not be given the same fate as the two pitchers that have gone before him.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Carlos Santana, C
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Shelley Duncan, LF
7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
8. Jason Kipnis, 2B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Eric Thames, LF
8. Colby Rasmus, CF
9. Jeff Mathis, C
Photo: Getty Images