© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/23/08 2:19 AM ET
Tribe unable to get to Angels' bullpen
Weaver leaves early, but Indians don't score enough for Ginter
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- It was back tightness that forced Angels starter Jered Weaver out of Tuesday night's game after three innings. Had the Indians' bats capitalized on their opportunities against Weaver, he might have been out even earlier. Alas, a quality spot start from Matt Ginter went to waste, as the Indians stranded nine runners against Weaver and the Angels' bullpen en route to a 3-2 loss at Angel Stadium. "We were one hit away all night long," manager Eric Wedge said. "We weren't able to execute and get that done, and ultimately [the Angels] were able to hold on." The Indians might want to hold on to Ginter after the two surprisingly strong starts he gave them in a pinch this month. It had been assumed that Ginter, who is out of Minor League options, would be designated for assignment to make room for Fausto Carmona's return to the rotation on Saturday, but he might have made his case to stick around in a bullpen role. After an All-Star break-induced 10-day layoff between starts, Ginter, who worked five scoreless innings against the Rays on July 12, held the Angels to three runs on seven hits with no walks and a strikeout in six innings. "I felt pretty good," Ginter said. "I left a couple balls up and they made me pay for them." But Ginter, who is pitching in the bigs for the first time in three years, really paid for the struggles of his supporting cast. The Indians had the earliest of leads when Grady Sizemore hit his 17th career leadoff home run. They added to that lead in the second, when Kelly Shoppach was hit by a Weaver pitch then came around to score on Franklin Gutierrez's triple. Yet they could have done much, much more against the ailing Weaver. In the first, Jamey Carroll reached on a Maicer Izturis error, only to run himself out of the inning. The Angels hadn't thrown out an opposing baserunner in 29 tries, but Carroll ended that run when he was gunned out at second by catcher Jeff Mathis. That play would come back to haunt the Tribe when Casey Blake doubled with two out and was stranded at second.
In the second, Gutierrez was stranded after his one-out triple. And in the third, Weaver walked Ben Francisco and Blake with one out, but the Indians came up empty. Shin-Soo Choo sent a fly ball to deep right, but Vladimir Guerrero hauled it in.
"I know Vladdy plays deep, but I thought [Choo] hit it hard enough to where it might get over his head, at least," Wedge said. "[Guerrero] made a good catch on it."
The Angels caught up to the Indians with a two-run second against Ginter. With two on, Mathis brought in a run on a fielder's choice and Reggie Willits brought in another with a single up the middle.
The game was decided in the fifth, when Mathis took Ginter deep with a solo shot on a 2-2 pitch.
"The ball was supposed to come in," Ginter said. "It came over the middle a little bit, and he made me pay and made a good swing on it."
That mistake aside, Ginter pitched well. He forced two double-play balls to thwart would-be jams.
"He gave us an opportunity to win," Wedge said of Ginter. "A guy goes six innings and gives up three runs to a very good team, that's about all you can ask for."
Ginter gave the Indians more than they could have expected in his two spot starts. Now, he'll wait to see what the future holds. Wedge hinted before the game that the Indians need to place a value on starting depth, given their current thinness in that department, so perhaps Ginter will be kept aboard and someone else will be optioned out of the 'pen.
The Indians have until Saturday to make a decision.
"I'll show up [Wednesday] and go from there," Ginter said. "I'll do whatever they want me to do. If they want me to make another start, I'll start. If they want me to go to the bullpen, I'll do that."
The Tribe bats didn't do much against an Angels bullpen thrust into early action after Weaver's departure. Only once did they put a runner in scoring position against Darren Oliver, Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields.
In the ninth, Sizemore drew a two-out walk from dominant closer Francisco Rodriguez and stole second base. Pinch-hitter Ryan Garko put up a nice at-bat and worked Rodriguez into a full count, but Garko went down swinging when Rodriguez delivered a devastating 79 mph curveball.
"[Rodriguez] throws that breaking ball where he did," Wedge said, "and that's why he has 41 saves."
But Weaver wasn't throwing very well at all, and the Indians didn't pounce. That was the difference in this game.
"We made [Weaver] throw 77 pitches in three innings," Wedge said. "We just weren't able to finish innings off."
|"We were one hit away all night long. We weren't able to execute and get that done, and ultimately [the Angels] were able to hold on."|
|-- manager Eric Wedge|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.