The Tigers had another excellent chance to take the division lead yesterday night, but somebody had to go and blow it. That somebody was one of the many non-Tiger surrogates we’re stuck rooting for in this pennant race: Vinnie Pestano. The White Sox have a lot of games against the Indians left, so if Detroit is going to make the playoffs the Indians are going to have to come through. And thanks to Pestano, they couldn’t. We all know that the Cleveland Indians are not a particularly strong team this year – especially since the All-Star break – and their bullpen (which had been stellar) has taken a big step back.
Vinnie Pestano, however, had not taken a step back. Pestano had a 2.07 ERA in 65 innings of relief going into yesterday’s game. [In truth, the top end of the Indians 'pen has been pretty solid overall - it's the middle relievers that have struggled.] In the Tigers 18 games against the Tribe, Pestano pitched in 11 and didn’t allow a single run while holding Detroit to a Raburn-esque .278 OPS. If ever the Indians were going to win it should have been that improbable game where Zach McAllister outpitched Chris Sale and gave Joe Smith, Pestano & Chris Perez a 3-2 lead to protect in the late innings.
But… after getting the first guy in the 8th to pop out, Pestano walked Dan Johnson (and isn’t that really what Dan Johnson is for?), gave up a ground ball single to Kevin Youkilis and on an 0-2 count coughed up Adam Dunn’s 41st home run of 2012. What gives, Pestano? You only walked 1 of the 41 Tigers you faced this season – and you can’t throw a strike to a weak stick like Dan Johnson? I can’t hate on a right-handed pitcher for giving up a home run to Dunn, but Dunn should never have come to the plate. I am left to wonder if Vinnie Pestano dials it up to 11 against the Tigers and down to 3 when the Tigers need a favor. I’m sure that is being a more than a little unfair… Johnson did foul off four pitches en route to that nine pitch walk and one of those “balls” was a definite called strike (Thanks, Chicago umps). I suppose rather than blaming Pestano I should be complaining loudly about bad calls (like that Seahawks-Packers game).