Saturday night when I came home from the game, my husband asks “how was it?” The only positive thing I could think of, was to say “well, there was a squirrel.” Yesterday, I come home from the game and again was asked “how was it?” I sighed and said “well…at least it was a nice day.” (That’s sort of become the go-to running joke about terrible Indians games at my house – that the only redeeming attribute is the fact that you had a nice time in the sun). My husband replied “oh come on…it couldn’t have been that bad.” When he found out it was 13-3, he asked, “well, did the squirrel come back, at least?” This is what a discussion of the Indians has come to – squirrels and the weather. Because you sure as heck don’t want to talk about what you saw go down at Progressive Field this weekend.
So anyway, the Tigers come to town tonight, and they are red hot right now. This is the only way I know how to describe my feelings about the upcoming series – like when you see a squirrel run in front of an 18-wheeler that is going 70 mph and is never going to see the squirrel. The Indians are the squirrel (see what I did there – squirrel connection!) and the Tigers are the 18 wheeler. Although I guess there’s always a slim chance that the squirrel survives the encounter with the 18-wheeler; maybe there’s a slim chance the Indians aren’t steamrolled by the team with the best record in baseball.
One stroke of minor luck for the Indians – Detroit had travel problems leaving Boston. Often whenever a team ends up featured in the Sunday night game, there are logistical problems centered on travel. You’re playing a late game, that’s likely slowed down due to the time allowed for extra commercials. Supposedly, the Tigers weren’t able to depart from Boston until around noon today, and they’ll go right from the airport to Progressive Field. (Their flight won’t land until just after 4 p.m.) The way their luck has been going, this will somehow only end up making them stronger.
It’s up to Corey Kluber to stop the bleeding and try to at least give the team a chance to win (he can’t hit for them, but if he limits damage it will certainly help). The Tigers had some success off him last year – they hit .297/.336/.515 off of Kluber, and he had a 4.74 ERA against them. The offense, with all of their struggles against lefties, will face southpaw Drew Smyly tonight. (Who moved into the rotation from the bullpen after the trade of Doug Fister…a move that I still don’t fully understand). The Indians have decent career numbers against Smyly, although they primarily faced him in a bullpen role before now – they hit .286/.351/.471 lifetime off of him, and he has a 5.09 ERA against them.
While I’m not a fan of Ryan Raburn in the cleanup role, at least they’re finally trying different options. A weird thing I noticed about Raburn – his success last year was in many ways due to the fact that he was used judiciously by Terry Francona. Primarily against left-handed pitching, since his 2013 splits showed he was much better against lefties. However, so far this year, Raburn has actually done better against right-handed pitching (.219/.235/.250) than left-handed pitching (.149/.241/.191). It’s still a pretty rough line, no mater how you slice it. I was just surprised to see the rather dramatic turnaround from last year. Lefty-righty split from last year – against LHP .308/.403/.617 and against RHP .243/.320/.485. In seven games against his former team, Raburn is hitting .211/.318/.684.
Can things really get any worse from here? It’s likely no place to go but up, right? You know what – don’t answer that. Just when I think they’ve hit bottom, they find a new way to surprise me. (And not necessarily in a good way).
Michael Bourn, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Michael Brantley, LF
Ryan Raburn, RF
Carlos Santana, 3B
Yan Gomes, C
Nick Swisher, DH
Jesus, Aguilar, 1B
Mike Aviles, 2B