Offense Stumbles, Bullpen Crumbles; Blue Jays 7, Indians 4

By Christian Petrila

The game of baseball is already a marathon. Through two games in the 2012 season, the Indians have already taken that mentality to a whole new level.

Once again, the bullpen crumbled at the most crucial time. And once again, the Indians offense was stagnant at best, as they fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4.

The Blue Jays went for four runs in the 12th inning, erasing a stellar performance from Ubaldo Jimenez, who carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter through six and two-thirds innings.

Things looked bright for the Indians early, as Jason Kipnis hit his first home run of the new season off of Brandon Morrow (who also flirted with a no-hitter.) That gave the Indians a 2-0 lead that they would carry into the seventh inning.

However, that was when things began to unravel for the Tribe. Jimenez walked a pair and then with two outs, Brett Lawrie drove the tying runs home with Toronto’s first hit of the game. Jimenez’s day ended after the seven, but he was exceptional. He went seven innings allowing that one single hit to Lawrie.

After the game, Manny Acta said it was important for Jimenez to get this start out of the way. He also said, “He had a good feel for his off-speed stuff and he looked confident.”

The Indians had a chance to retake the lead after Carlos Santana drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the frame. Travis Hafner came up and punched one to left, but third base umpire Tim Welke called it a foul ball. It was a major turning point because that would’ve put runners on second and third at the very least. Instead, Hafner struck out and then Shelley Duncan grounded into an inning-ending double play.

After Rafael Perez threw a scoreless eighth, Vinnie Pestano came in for the ninth. It didn’t take long for things to go sour, as Kelly Johnson hit a leadoff home run to dead center as the ball was just barely out of Michael Brantley’s reach. He limited the damage, though, getting through the rest of the inning.

The Indians managed to recapture some old-style Jacobs Field magic when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a game-tying home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth. That made the score 3-3, but just like the day before, the game would go to extra innings.

Chris Perez came in for the 11th inning and redeemed himself from the night before by recording a 1-2-3 inning in which he faced Jose Bautista and Adam Lind.

The 12th inning was a different story, however. Tony Sipp came into the game and gave up a leadoff double to Edwin Encarnacion. After Brett Lawrie reached base with a single, Rajai David drove them both in with a double in the right field gap. That was followed by RBI singles from Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson. That gave the Jays a 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the 12th.

The Indians tried to make it interesting once again. Asdrubal Cabrera got a leadoff single off of Francisco Cordero and after Shin-Soo Choo popped out, Carlos Santana hit a single that sent Cabrera to third. After a Travis Hafner single to left, Shelley Duncan hit a laser to third that Brett Lawrie managed to stop and throw to second to force Hafner out. Casey Kotchman came up as the Indians’ last hope, but he grounded out weakly to first to start his season 0-12 from the plate. He has yet to hit a ball out of the infield.

Through two games, the Indians only have 12 hits through 28 innings. The bullpen has also allowed 11 runs through 13 innings, whereas the starters have allowed only allowed three runs through 15 innings.

The Indians will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday as they send Derek Lowe to make his Indians debut against Toronto’s Joel Carreno. First pitch is at 1:05.

Photo: Getty Images

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