I imagine the Indians season shaping up like this: Chris Antonetti walks me into a room, sits me down next to a small table. He explains to me the perception of the 2012 Cleveland Indians. He tells me of their slim pre-season chances of making the playoffs, but also mentions how they get off to a hot start. He includes the fact that Derek Lowe starts the season 6-1 with a ERA near 2.00, and he also shows me numbers that point to the Indians having one of the most productive middle infields in all of baseball. Everything seems to point to a successful season despite the odds.
He then offers me two pills: One blue, the other is red. He tells me that if I just want to wake up and pretend this season never happened, I should take the blue pill; however, if I really want to know how the 2012 Cleveland Indians finish, I will need to take the red pill. As I quickly reach towards the red pill, he offers one final warning:
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the season ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep this Indians season really goes.”
I reach out, taking the red pill. What happens next, we now know: The Indians get off to a good start, finding themselves in the race for the AL Central crown until the All-Star break. Cleveland is well represented at the All-Star Game by Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez, and the team looks poised to continue their run of good play into the second half; however, reality sets in early on in July, and the true talent of the roster comes out. The Indians sputter out of the gate to begin the second half, with a record of 6-13 in their first 19 games after the break. Once dependable players such as Johnny Damon and Josh Tomlin are relegated to bench and bullpen roles. Key starters Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Travis Hafner continue to struggle, bringing the team down further. At least a couple games against Minnesota and Kansas City would right the ship, right?
Unfortunately, no. The Indians were swept by the Twins, and to add insult to injury allowed the Royals to beat them on consecutive nights with tonight’s 5-2 loss. That may not sound like much, but if you consider that the Royals had not won two games in a row in over a month (the last occasion was on June 29th) you can start to see why their playoff hopes have eroded to nothing.
Although Zach McAllister gave up five runs (4 ER on 5 hits), he was able to labor through six innings and continue to impress me. If the Indians were in a “must-win” situation right this second, McAllister gets the ball if I am the manager, hands down. He is just the most effective starter currently in the rotation. Also, I just realized that I wrote that I was “impressed” by a 6 Innings Pitched 5 Runs allowed stat-line. It is getting that bad.
Anyway, the Royals outfield did most of their damage, as Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson tallied 5 of the Royals 6 hits in the game. The Indians did get a solo home-run from Carlos Santana (If you would have told me prior to the season started that it would take Carlos Santana until August 1st to hit 10 home runs, I would have bet you a million dollars. Yes, I was that confident going into 2012.) but aside from that the offense remained quiet as Luis Mendoza kept them in check. Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez both ended up working an inning each in order to stay fresh, as neither of them had thrown since last Thursday.
Maybe if I had taken the blue pill, I would not have gotten my hopes up.
Two Quick Thoughts:
1.) Rottino over Fedroff– As reported from a variety of sources, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner was placed onto the paternity list this afternoon. Columbus outfielder Vinnie Rottino was recalled to take Hafner’s spot. In all fairness, Rottino certainly was playing well in AAA this season (8HR, 57RBI, .304 AVG. between the Mets and Indians this season); however, he is 32, and has never had more than a cup of coffee in the big leagues. If you compare Rottino to another one of Columbus’s hot hitting outfielders, Tim Fedroff (24 years old; 7 HR 22RBI .373AVG in 39 games), you may question why he was called up over a much younger, more athletic, homegrown player.
2.) Lowe sent packing, Tomlin in the pen– At the conclusion of tonight’s game, it was announced that the Indians designated Derek Lowe for assignment. It was clearly time for him to go, as his numbers were too atrocious for Acta to stomach. How bad? Well, so bad that I plan on writing up a piece on it tomorrow. Corey Kluber was recalled to take his spot on the roster and start tomorrow’s game. It was also announced that barring an emergency, Josh Tomlin will spend the rest of the season in the Indians bullpen.