For pretty much the entire season thus far, the narrative has remained the same: this team can hit, but can only go as far as its pitching takes them. Over the last month, the pitching has been pretty good, and the team’s record has been great; last night at Progressive Field, however, the pitching was not so good, and the result was not pretty.
First, the good: The Indians hitters (minus Nick Swisher) again worked Verlander, forcing him to throw 110 pitches in just five innings. They collected 10 hits and 5 earned runs off the former Cy Young winner, and would go on to score seven runs overall. Santana, slumping for a few weeks now, put some really nice swings on the ball in this game and collected his eighth home run. Yan Gomes also hit another Home Run.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the positivity I can draw out of this game. Ubaldo was back to being UGHbaldo, as his command and velocity were back into the danger zone from the outset on Wednesday night. Jimenez only managed to get through four innings, allowing six runs in the process. Still, however, six runs from Ubaldo doesn’t qualify as a true meltdown and the Indians offense was certainly capable of making up that deficit. Once again, the non-featured part of the Indians bullpen had to come in and hold the score where it was and failed to do it.
David Huff was the primary culprit, as he allowed three more runs in his lone inning of “relief.” His ERA is now up to 15.00 on the season, and he officially earned his Firemaking Merit Badge last night.
To punctuate how much last night was not the Indians’ night, Rich Hill ended up giving up a home run to Miggy Cabrera that was about 2 feet short of the yellow line. Unfortunately, the ball bounced in and out of Michael Bourn’s glove and disappeared into the seats. That’s right, the Indians gave up a home run that wasn’t a home run, and Angel Hernandez wasn’t even involved.
The last two nights are disheartening, but losing to those two pitchers (Scherzer and Verlander) is nothing to hang your head over. The Indians will look to regroup as they head to Fenway Park for a series against the Red Sox, also a team looking to contend this season. For all the ducking and weaving about the Indians chance to contend all season, this next month will be the truest barometer of this team: if the Indians can come out of this stretch of their schedule where they play every team over .500 in baseball (at least, that’s how it seems) and still have a record over the break-even mark, I think we can settle down and prepare for the long haul.
It’s going to take a considerably better effort from the pitching than we saw on Wednesday night, however.