TribeScribe West got his first look at the new-look Indians this season, and they didn’t disappoint. Not only did Charlie Nagy and Ben Broussard sign my glove, but the Tribe pulled out a victory in a game which Jaret Wright seemed determined to lose. The improbable hero was Lee Stevens, who doubled twice off Tim Hudson then hit his first Indians homer off of lefty Mike Magnante with two aboard to give the Tribe the win. Stevens was just 4-45 against LHP this season with only one double and 14 Ks coming into tonight’s game.
Jaret Wright consistently hit 94 on the radar gun and changed speeds well but was erratic in the location of all of his pitches, dropping 59′ curves in the dirt and once sending a fastball over Einar Diaz’ head to the backstop a la Lenny Barker. When pitching coach Mike Brown visited the mound in the second inning, he should have given Jaret a pair of Coke-bottle lenses and told him to scrap the breaking stuff and throw all fastballs. A little fear can go a long way towards getting hitters out. Instead, Jaret walked seven then walked to the showers after retiring only 8 Athletics.
Jason Beverlin made his major league debut and didn’t fare badly, despite only throwing about half of his pitches for strikes. Beverlin, who was called up to replace Paul Shuey, pitched 118 innings for Buffalo in which he compiled a 3.93 ERA, allowed 107 hits and struck out 106 while only walking 39. Signed as a minor league free agent after pitching last year in the Angels’ system, he’s a 28-year-old righthander and not really a prospect. He does have the potential to be inexpensive, effective bullpen filler. Someday, perhaps, Mark Shapiro can deal him to John Hart for Hank Blalock.
Some other observations from tonight’s game: Matt Lawton’s bat appears to be healthy, but I didn’t see him make any throws that would test his sore shoulder … Jim Thome lined a single off the left-field scoreboard in the second that hit only a few feet below Lee Stevens HR in the seventh … Chris Magruder entered the game in the bottom of the eighth as a defensive replacement for Ben Broussard, then legged out a bloop double to center in the top of the ninth … Eric Chavez showed why he is the reigning AL Gold Glove third baseman with a running sliding catch of Stevens’ pop foul in the ninth. On the other hand, he couldn’t handle Bill Selby’s sizzling one-hopper in the seventh (ruled a single) that ignited the winning rally … with Ellis Burks sitting out tonight, Selby was the curious choice as #3 hitter.
I was sitting next to a very cute blonde from Elyria who was also a very knowledgeable, very avid Tribe fan. I think I fell in love when she lectured two young boys sitting behind us who were razzing Wright for pitching so badly. She proceeded to tell them that Jaret had pitched brilliantly in Game Seven of the 1997 World Series before the age of 21, and in fact, he was set to be the hero had it not been for Jos… I had to stop her there. It was too painful to think about. And five years from today when I think about that Series, my grief will be compounded by the fact that I never got her name or her number.