Frustration. Fans are feeling it, the players are certainly feeling it and I’m sure Tito Francona was feeling it when he got tossed out of Saturday’s loss to the Tigers.
That’s what a six game losing streak (and a 4-14 record since completing that four-game sweep of Seattle on May 20) will to do a team and fan base.
We’ll get to the frustration that is Carlos Carrasco in a minute.
What struck me most Saturday is that the entire team seems caught in between in most facets of the game. There were several communication struggles on defense, one of which fell in a for a hit between Brantley and Aviles in shallow left. And offensively, very few times did hitters seem to hit “their pitch,” especially against Rick Porcello. They were patient when they needed to be aggressive, falling behind early by taking hittable strikes, or aggressive on pitches they were going to pound into the ground or couldn’t square up. It was as if almost every hitter was just guessing rather than taking what they were given. Part of that I’m sure is human nature and a frustrated team letting a slump affect their approach. I mean, a team that’s just taking advantage of mistakes and not trying to do too much would have obliterated the stuff Jose Valverde was tossing out there in the ninth.
We should keep that in mind, as it’s easy to pin the 6-4 loss all on the erratic shoulders of Carlos Carrasco. Every time I see him pitch, I see the electric stuff, but I also see a pitcher who never makes it easy and always seems to be fighting with himself. Carrasco had little control Saturday and did himself no favors by, for the most part, eliminating the inside half of the plate.
I think most of us understand that because of the suspensions he was terrified to throw inside in case one got away from him. But no pitcher can be effective working to half a plate. Carrasco has good stuff and great AAA results, so I certainly am not anxious to write him off. But if Carrasco wants to be effective at the major league level, he has to grow up and get his head on straight. Being a hot-headed head hunter is unacceptable, but being terrified to use the inside half of the plate isn’t going to cut it either.
* Much like with Carrasco, I’m not ready to write off the Indians’ playoff chances just yet, even at 30-31. But between their play in June and April, it sure looks like those red hot three weeks in May were the outlier. Then again, the start of this slump coincided with the beginning of this brutal stretch in the schedule, so we’ll see if the Indians have another bounce back in them when the competition gets a little less rough. But the rose colored glasses have certainly grown a little darker lately.
* Bullpen was great: five innings, no runs allowed. Kept the Indians in a game they really didn’t have any business being in.
* I’m not a big believer in the power of managerial ejections. However, some people – including the only ones who matter in these instances, the actual players – seem to get fired up by it. Give Tito Francona credit for sticking up for his guys in the eighth and trying to breathe some life into them.
* Horror with small sample size: In 47.2 AAA innings, Carrasco allowed 19 total runs. In 7.2 MLB innings this year, he has allowed 13.
* Fun with small sample size: Even with a four inning, six run line, Carrasco’s ERA actually went down from 17.18 to 15.26.
We’ll see if Justin Masterson can live up the ace’s mantle Sunday and halt the losing streak and avoid a costly sweep at the hands of the Tigers.