As I’m sitting here half-watching a bit of the postgame show on STO, I caught Matt Underwood saying “McHugh shut them down good.” Yes, Collin McHugh has been pitching well lately, and he did hold the Tribe to one unearned run on five hits. But he left the game in the seventh inning, when he was drilled by a line drive off the bat of Lonnie Chisenhall. After his departure, you saw Kevin Chapman (ERA near 6), a brief appearance by Samuel Deduno, (who the Indians just clobbered in Minnesota earlier this year), and Chad Qualls, who in fairness, has been pretty solid for the Astros this season. They had non-McHugh opportunities, but they did nothing. Outside of that first inning, they never even really had a big threat going.
As uncomfortable as I’ve been with Zach McAllister this season, he performed fairly well tonight. There were a number of hard-hit balls, and at times it felt like the Astros may start to blow this one out of the water. But McAllister managed to escape trouble and gave the Indians a chance to win. You’re not going to win many games 1-0, so once again, the blame falls to the team’s hitters.
I had to really fight the urge to put “hitters” in quotes, because there are a lot of guys in this lineup that have been little more than dead weight over the past week or two. Even though he had a hit tonight, it’s often been kind of painful to watch Jason Kipnis hit. At least he’s managed to draw a few walks, but the differences between 2013 Kipnis and 2014 Kipnis grow greater every day. While Zach Walters had some dramatic, cool moments since he arrived in the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, but he’s just 3 for his last 33, dating back to August 27. I can only point out the futility of this lineup so many times without feeling like the most broken of records. Many of the guys blow hot and cold – and when they’re off, they’re not doing anything.
You can’t ask much more from your pitchers – giving up three total runs is a very reasonable performance. And much like the Detroit series, you let one guy just own you throughout the game (in this case, Jose Altuve). Altuve is a very gifted hitter and will likely win the batting title this season; I’m not knocking him by any means. It’s just more of the same story – only instead of someone named Martinez clobbering you, it was someone named Altuve.
Corey Kluber starts tomorrow night against Nick Tropeano, a young pitcher who has only thrown five major league innings. This is the type of pitcher that always seems to baffle the Indians; they better hope that Kluber can put up zeroes tomorrow. Because even two to three runs is likely to be two to three too many.