Well, that was fun.
The Indians took the flamethrower to their five-game losing streak by absolutely pounding the Astros 19-6, scoring 14 in the first two innings and obliterating starter Phil Humber during an eight run first inning.
Baseball is a funny sport. The Indians had scored more than three runs just once in their last seven games, and a year ago Sunday Humber threw a perfect game. Saturday, the Tribe ensured he wouldn’t be enjoying the one-year anniversary too much by chasing him after recording just one out and allowing five extra base hits.
I can honestly say it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a game like that. At least one that wasn’t played on an Xbox. The Indians scored in each of the first five innings and didn’t go in order until the seventh. They had 22 hits, and 10 extra base hits. They made Astro pitchers throw 228 pitches – for reference the most pitches by a single team in a nine-inning game in MLB history is 255. Eleven different Indians had hits, eight had multi-hit games and 10 of them came around to score at least once.
I know the Astros’ pitchers and defense were awful, but for a team that had been 2-27 with runners in scoring position during the five game losing streak, the Indians finally did what you’re supposed to do with bad pitching and also managed to take advantage of all the extra outs they were given.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the fourth time in team history the Indians scored at least 14 runs in the first two innings, the last being back in 2009 against the Yankees. It was the 20th time in team history the Indians scored 19 runs or more and for a while I thought they were going to challenge the team record of 27 from back in 1923.
I know it’s the Astros, I know they’re probably going to lose 110 games and I know at some point it started to feel like a bad little league matchup. But after the week this team just had, they needed a game like that.
And still … early on … that lead didn’t feel comfortable.
And that has to do with Scott Kazmir, who I tried to avoid writing about for as long as possible. The best you can say about his start is that the Indians certainly tried to take the pressure off a man making his first major league start in more than two years. And in fairness, I guess it’s probably hard to find any kind of rhythm given the pace of the game early – the first three and a half innings took two hours and it felt twice as long. But there’s no way to sugarcoat this, it was an ugly start. Two home runs, too many hard hit line drives, way too many walks, and a ton of pitches, only about half of them strikes. Against the Astros, who won’t be doing an impression of the 27 Yankees anytime soon.
Overall, Kazmir’s line looked like this: 3.1 innings, 6 runs (all earned), 7 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 89 pitches, only 49 strikes. On most nights with this team, the losing streak would have continued. Thanks to offense finally waking up, we can call it a chance for Kazmir to knock off the rust. But the Indians desperately need a break in the rotation and it would be nice to catch lightning in a bottle. When the thought of losing Brett Myers and his 10 home runs allowed feels like it would be a blow to the rotation, that’s not a good sign.
Other random thoughts:
* Congrats to Jason Giambi who is now tied with Cal Ripken for 42nd place on the all-time career home run list.
* The bullpen continues to be outstanding. Even Corey Kluber threw well and helped save the pen for Sunday with Ubaldo on the mound.
* Mark Reynolds is rapidly becoming one of my favorite players. When we made our beginning of the year predictions, I did expect him to lead the team in homers … but he might blow past my estimate of 27 by the All-Star break. I’m curious to see if he can keep this up, but he has been better than I ever imagined so far, and I forgot how fun and exciting it is to have a legitimate home run threat.
* The offense continues to be feast or famine. They have scored four or more runs just six times this year, and are now 4-2 in those games, and 2-8 when scoring three or less. Even last year’s sad offense managed to score at least four runs in 83 of their games. #funwithsmallsamplesize
Seriously though, with this rotation the offense simply has to score with more consistency. On the other hand, they’ve scored nine runs or more three times already, after doing it only 13 times all of last season.
*More #funwithsmallsamplesize: About 25 percent of the Indians runs this season came Saturday.
Follow Matt on Twitter @mhutton722