Arrrrgh! The Indians failed at their chance to claw back to the meager .500 mark today as ineffective pitching, spotty hitting and shoddy defense conspired to yield a 7-3 loss to Baltimore. (Yeah, that combination will doom a team every time.)
The defeat wiped away an opportunity for the Tribe to take their third series in a row. A major factor was that a strong 7-game streak for Carlos Carrasco (a series of going at least 6 innings with 6 or more Ks) was snapped as he lasted only 4 innings and gave up 5 runs.
While the box score will say all 5 runs were earned — and technically they were — things could have gone much differently if the Tribe could have played better defense. Carrasco’s day started to unravel in the fourth inning. After retiring the first 2 batters, 5 consecutive Orioles reached base, plating 3 runs. However, with bases loaded and no runs in yet, Manny Machado hit a nubber across the infield. Lonnie Chisenhall charged the ball and decided to try a barehanded snatch and throw. But he didn’t snatch it…so he couldn’t throw. Tough play, for sure. But we’ve seen Lonnie make those types of plays before. One run scored, then a follow-up single by Travis Snider chalked up 2 more runs in the inning.
The last batter Carrasco faced to start the fifth, Matt Wieters, smacked a zinger off the right field wall. Brandon Moss misplayed the carom as the ball shot past him toward the infield. Moss paid little attention to Wieters, who alertly took third. Should’ve been a double, but not the triple Wieters was given credit for. Delmon Young then drove him in with a sac fly to right — which wouldn’t have happened if Wieters was standing on second where he should be.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda. That was the story of the Tribe’s day as they again notched up double digits for runners left on base (10). The Indians’ runs came from back-to-back doubles by David Murphy and Brandon Moss in the fourth. In the eighth, Ryan Raburn scorched a ball to the opposite field with bases loaded, but O’s first baseman Chris Davis was able to knock it down and flip to the pitcher covering first while only one run scored. In the ninth, Raburn singled in the Tribe’s only other RBI, scoring Jason Kipnis from second after he blasted his second double of the day.
Kip was one of the few bright spots for Cleveland today (what else is new?). After striking out his first two times up, he followed with 3 hits — two doubles and a single — to run his home hitting streak to 18 games and improve his batting average to .338.
Then there’s Chisenhall. It’s on record that I wished him good fortune in today’s pre-game open thread. But in addition to the aforementioned tough play in the fourth, Lonnie was charged with two errors. His first error in the third didn’t wind up hurting. But his second error in the seventh cost a very likely double play, kept the inning alive for the O’s and opened the door for an extra unearned run. At least Lonnie snapped an 0-for-13 skid at the plate with a single up the middle in the eighth. And I will be the first to say his at-bats looked much better than his plate appearances yesterday.
However, LC is just one reason I have no confidence right now in the Tribe’s lower third (or more) of the batting order. Batters 5-9 today were a combined 3-for-20, all singles, with 7 strikeouts. While today’s pitching performance was a rare anomaly among the Indians’ starters lately, their lackluster offense — especially with runners in scoring position — has to continue to improve if we hope to see them be better than a (roughly) .500 team.