The Cleveland Indians aren’t playing the best baseball in the world right now. Fresh off losing 2-3 in a rain-shortened series to the Cincinnati Reds, the Indians squared off against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. The pitching matchup: Ian Kennedy versus Mike Clevinger.
I am not a big fan of Clevinger, personally, but he shut me up properly with his last start, when he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. Tonight he was mortal, or, maybe, merely back to normal, as he gave up 4 runs in 5.0 IP. He walked just one, but allowed 8 hits in his five innings of work — all in all, it’s what you’d expect for a guy at the back of your rotation. The problem is that Clevinger is filling in for Corey Kluber, so he’s technically at the top of the rotation for now.
But really, Mike Clevinger was fine in this game, and he wasn’t the reason the Indians lost, which they did do — again.
The Indians lost because they only put together six hits in 9 innings, which seems to be a recurring theme for this team this season – where’s the offense? The Indians managed four runs on 6 hits and 3 walks — that’s lucky, that’s more than you’d expect for six hits, and so it’s hard for me to pin the blame of this loss on the pitching.
It would be easy, for example, to complain about Bryan Shaw, or bemoan that this was the one time in forever that Andrew Miller looked to be merely mortal, but I won’t do it. You can’t ask pitchers to be perfect time and time and time and time again. The Indians bullpen is terrific, the Indians rotation (when healthy) should be terrific, and the offense (on paper) should be exceptional. Six hits won’t get it done.
The offense in general just needs to get it going. Edwin Encarnacion has shown signs this month of waking up, and I believe he will soon. Carlos Santana has been his usual, normal, frustrating self, but he’s still a big part of this offense. Frankie Lindor is just great. Jason Kipnis needs to go on one of his patented 8-10 game tears, and Jose Ramirez needs to pull himself out of this little slump he’s been in.
The Indians haven’t been the juggernaut we thought they might be this season, but that’s okay – for now.
The Indians need to start winning games against weaker competition, though. They should not lose 2 of 3 to the Reds, and they should not lose 2 of 3 to the Royals. If they’re going to avoid that fate (or worse!), however, that starts on Saturday afternoon. Danny Salazar will look to put together a quality start for the first time in a long time against Jason Vargas – a mediocre left-handed thrower who has had a good season thus far. Hopefully the Indians can buck their trend of flailing against a middling-quality left-handed starter.
First pitch is at 4:10pm EST