Over the first three innings of Thursday night’s game between the Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, Indians pitcher T.J. House looked pretty sharp. Granted, he walked a batter in the second inning, and another in the third, but he gave up no hits and no runs. If, before the game, Indians manager Terry Francona was told that he could have “House allows no runs in the first three innings” or whatever was behind Door B, he probably would not have switched. I know I would not have.
But in the fourth inning, things went wrong for House. He faced five batters that inning: walk, single, single, double, double, and just like that, the Indians were down 4-0, and the Jays had a runner on second with no outs. Francona pulled House in favor of Ryan Webb, who made his Indians debut. Although Webb retired the side without allowing a walk or hit, his inherited baserunner managed to score.
The bullpen, which has cost the Indians several games in recent days, was stellar on Thursday. Webb pitched three scoreless innings. Bryan Shaw pitched two scoreless innings. Nick Hagadone pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Indians offense managed to bang out 11 hits. A good rule of thumb is that a team can expect to score a run for every 2.2 hits they get, which meant that the Indians might have expected to score about five runs. But they didn’t, of course. The Tribe batters were a measly 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They left ten men on base. Of course, you simply can’t leave that many ducks on the pond and expect to win a baseball game.
The Indians thus finish the month of April with a record of 7-14. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d bet a week’s pay that no team in the wild-card era has ever been at .333 on May 1 and then gone on to make the playoffs, especially when they have two division rivals with records of .667 or better. As Bob Dylan once put it: it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.
I hate to end a recap on a down note, so I will point out that Webb pitched very well, and that Michael Brantley and Ryan Raburn each went 3 for 4. And the defense was good, as the Indians made no errors. That’s all I got.
The second game of the four-game series will be played on Friday evening. Corey Kluber, winless in his first five starts, will pitch for the Tribe.