Before the All-Star break, the Indians were Team Streak, reeling off winning streaks immediately followed by losing streaks. They would appear capable of beating anyone for a few days, and then struggle to beat a bottomfeeder for the next series. When the team was in one of those slumps, they were incredibly difficult to watch.
The Indians came out of the All-Star Break firing, taking three out of four from the first place Tigers and everything seemed to be on the up-and-up. Three days later and I am left to wonder if the Bad News Bears of the first half are really gone for good, or if the high hopes of the weekend were just a mid-summer mirage.
That sounds a little bleak, but let’s break down this game and this series:
Trevor Bauer continues to chug along at a serviceable pace. He wasn’t great in this game, but six innings against three earned runs should put you in position to win a number of ballgames. I continue to be excited for what I see out of Bauer, as it seems he never has a game where the wheels come off on him, like we saw a number of times last year. When his command isn’t perfect (like today), or when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he manages to battle his way through the middle part of a game and come out with a respectable line. I get the sense that at some point this summer he’s going to come out with all his pitches working and he’s going to throw a shutout — I just have a feeling.
The offense, however, sputtered big time during this series. Minnesota has the third worst team ERA in the American League, and the Indians scored 3 runs on Monday and 1 run today. Today they failed to capitalize on a pitching injury to scheduled starter Kyle Gibson, allowing spot starter Anthony Swarzak to throw five innings of 2-hit baseball.
Offensively, it was the usual suspects contributing to the lack of runs:
Jason Kipnis: 1-4 (2-13 in the series)
Nick Swisher: 0-4 (3-11 in the series, but all three hits came Tuesday night)
Lonnie Baseball: 0-3 (1-11 in the series… safe to say he’s come back to earth and then some)
Mike Aviles: 0-1 (But I mention him here because he was 0-9 in the series)
I mean, the Indians only had five hits as a team and Jose Ramirez had two of them, so… it was unlikely they were going to score a lot of runs today.
Sitting one game above .500, the Indians need to take this season by the horns and do it soon if they have any realistic hope of October. They’ve flirted with a .500 record all summer long, and at this point you have to wonder: if it hits like a .500 team, pitches like a .500 team, and Jose Ramirez has 40% of your total offense, it might be a .500 team.
…At least, I think that’s how the old saying goes.