The streakiest team in baseball has picked one of the worst possible times to get cold again. Now losers of four in a row, the Tribe will need to win Sunday and Monday just to salvage a split in the 4-game series against the Tigers, who have opened up a 3.5 game lead in the Central.
The problem for the Indians isn’t just that they’re losing, or even that they’re losing to the team they’re chasing, it’s how they’re doing it: 7-0 and 9-4 the last two days, and they were never in either game. The team has struggled to draw fans all year, and finally people are coming out on a holiday weekend for the showdown with the Tigers – they had a sellout Friday and another 28,000 Saturday. But Saturday’s game was essentially over after three and a half innings. I still think fans should go out, but it’s so discouraging because the Indians need to draw casual fans and convince people this team is better than last year’s, but they haven’t managed to play engaging baseball in either game during this showcase series.
(Heck, it even rubbed off on me as a recapper. Normally I take tons of notes during the course of a game if I’m going to write about it. Today I took two – 1) Carrasco: Bad, everything up; 2) Offense looks pitiful today.)
It all fell apart in the third as Carlos Carrasco proceeded to allow the first back-to-back home runs Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have hit all year. After that, he allowed a string of base runners and hits all the way from that point until Francona mercifully yanked him with one out in the fourth, the only outs coming on a familiar looking base running blunder by Jhonny Peralta after his RBI single in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
The Indians tried to battle back in the bottom of the third, scoring once on Michael Bourn’s infield single and putting runners at the corners with no outs. But they couldn’t push across another run and Carrasco coughed up three more in the top of the fourth. That took whatever fight the team had left out of them as the Indians went down 1-2-3 on FIVE pitches in the bottom of the fourth. Game over.
* As for Carrasco, for those ready to give up on him or move him to the pen, I can’t blame you. But I’m not there yet. Pitchers put it together at all different times, and it’s so hard to just write him off as “never going to get it” when you see his stuff, even when he’s tossing glorified batting practice. I still hope/think the light is going to go off someday and he will figure out that no matter what kind of stuff you have, out over the plate and up are the two places you can’t live as a pitcher. Maybe I’m delusional or unwilling to say the Lee deal yielded absolutely nothing instead of almost nothing, but I’m not ready for a drastic change – yet.
* Hopefully the Indians will bounce back and stop this losing streak at four so we don’t head into the All-Star game wondering again if the team would be better off as sellers.
* Congrats to All-Stars Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson, though it wasn’t the greatest two days for either. Masterson got knocked around Friday, and Kipnis saw his 16-game hit streak and 36-game streak with either a hit or a walk snapped on Saturday.
* How can the Indians continue to let Cabrera kill them like this? I know he’s an absolutely fantastic player, but he seems to come through against the Indians every time. Of opponents with 50 games or more against the Indians, only 10 players have a better career OPS against the Tribe. Stop challenging him with first base open.
* OK be honest, at the beginning of the season who would have put money on Ryan Raburn having more home runs than Nick Swisher on July 7? Swish hit number nine Saturday and Raburn hit a two-run shot in the ninth, his 10th of the year.
* Fun with huge sample size: I had no idea, but the Indians tweeted Saturday when Torii Hunter was a single short that no player has ever hit for the cycle at Progressive Field. Who knew?