When the Cleveland Indians inked Nick Swisher to a four-year, 56 million dollar deal this offseason, Manager Terry Francona made it clear that Swisher would be placed smack-dab in the middle of the lineup. He has done so, but has not gotten the results that he, and all Tribe fans, have wanted to see. Swisher entered this game with a .238/.345/.387 line. Those aren’t TERRIBLE numbers, but are certainly not the numbers you want your cleanup hitter sporting. Although he has been hitting well as of late, Swisher simply hasn’t been hitting the way we had hoped. One theory that could be argued is that there is too much pressure being put on Swish. Last year with the Yankees, Swisher would hit all over the lineup, but never had the obligation of hitting fourth. The spotlight wasn’t on him. It was on guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Swisher seemed to thrive offensively in that situation, just simply being a solid clubhouse guy who produced at the plate. Perhaps, Swish needs to have some of that pressure relieved.
It is possible that Francona may have a similar view on Swisher, as he slotted Swisher into the number 2 hole in the batting order. Many speculated that the Tribe skipper had been toying with this idea, and he confirmed it on Monday night. I loved this move, however, I wondered who would take over the cleanup spot. Many Tribe fans have been clamoring for Chris Antonetti to acquire a starting pitcher before this year’s trade deadline. I disagree. There is no doubt that another solid arm could help this rotation, but there is a need for a legitimate bat to hit cleanup, which could do wonders for this lineup. It’s easy to throw around names like Alfonso Soriano, Kendrys Morales, or Justin Morneau, but the reality is that it could take a lot to get a player like this, considering how many teams could also be pursuing them. For now, Francona will fill out his new batting order with Asdrubal Cabrera in the cleanup spot.
In the first inning, Nick Swisher apparently was feeling pretty comfortable in his new spot in the batting order, as he blasted a solo home run to left field. He followed this up with a single in the third, and finished the night 2-4. Not too bad for his first showing in the two hole. Other than Swisher’s bomb, Aaron Harang had his way with the Tribe, going 7 innings and only giving up Swisher’s homerun. Cleveland could not get anything going at all for the rest of the game. Seattle’s bullpen gave up no runs to give Harang the win.
On the mound for the Tribe was the mystery man Ubaldo Jimenez. When I say mystery man, I mean that most of the time we do not know what we’ll see when he’s pitching. Throughout this year, we have seen outings from the Big U that have shown brilliance, ineptness, and then a combination of both. Lately, Tribe fans have seen Ubaldo yield only four or fewer runs in his recent starts, however, he has been unable to pitch into the late innings, making the bullpen pitch in tight situations (which hasn’t been good this season). Tonight, we saw a decent outing, but again, only ate up 5 and 2/3 innings before handing the ball over to the bullpen. Ubaldo gave up 2 home runs and struck out 6. The rest of the bullpen pitched well, but again, the offense couldn’t deliver.
Looking ahead, the Tribe will play game 2 of their series in Seattle. Taking the mound for the Tribe for the first time in quite a while will be Zach McAllister. Remember him?