Tired of Deja Vu

April 28, 2013

I admit that when the season started, I was worried primarily about the rotation, but I still thought the Indians were in line to win 83 games, I just thought they’d win a lot of 7-6 affairs with the starters going five and the bullpen slamming the door. I never dreamed a month into the year I’d be wondering if the Indians are going to hit enough to avoid an 85 or 86 loss season … but here we are.

After dropping game one of Sunday’s day night doubleheader 9-0, the Indians have now scored three runs or less in 13 of their 21 games and have dropped three in a row. It’s their third such losing streak so far this year. In fact, the Indians have yet to sandwich a loss around two wins, with all 13 of their defeats coming in bunches of three, two, five and now at least three.

They’ve been shut out three times this year (their third shut out last season wasn’t until June 9) , already a quarter of the way to their 2012 total (h/t Stephanie for those depressing stats).

The Indians continue to make the starters work, they had a baserunner in every inning and Jeremy Guthrie was at about 100 pitches in the sixth, but they couldn’t string the hits or walks together, and if they had anything resembling a threat, the offense rolled over and put those thoughts away quickly.

Going into Sunday’s action, the team was batting .247 with runners in scoring position, and had hit into nine double plays with 47 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances with RISP. Despite being in the bottom third in plate appearances with runners in scoring position (partially attributed to the fact they had played only 20 games before Sunday), they were still in the top ten in strikeouts and double plays in those situations. Again, it’s still too early to give these stats too much meaning, but what few opportunities they are cobbling together they aren’t taking advantage of.

Maybe things will get better when Michael Bourn returns and Francona can then drop Kipnis and his .250 on base percentage lower in the order – not that it’s solely Kipnis’ fault, but he can’t keep hitting that high and creating that many outs. I don’t want to go crazy over 21 games, but the longer this goes the more I worry about the offense’s actual ceiling. When the Royals scored twice in the second, I tweeted that it felt much closer to 10-0 than 2-0. And really, once Bourn is back, this is it. These are the guys the Indians are counting on day-in, day-out, minus a Yan Gomes appearance here or there.

Justin Masterson’s line looked ugly (6.1 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 4 walks), but he wasn’t quite as bad as that sounds. He missed a lot of bats and piled up 9 strikeouts. He was really done in by two four-pitch, two-out walks in the second and fourth innings to Mike Moustakas, he of the .164 average and .263 OBP, which led to a Jeff Francoeur RBI double and a pair of Jarrod Dyson RBI singles. By the time Alcides Escobar homered and the Royals nickeled and dimed Masterson and Matt Albers for three more in the seventh, the game was already effectively out of reach anyway. Unfortunately, this team needed an A-plus effort from Masterson with the offense stuck in park (neutral would be an improvement).

With Corey Kluber on the hill for game two and Ubaldo set for Monday, I fear the Indians will be looking at a pair of five-game losing streaks before April is over.

I will be back later tonight to recap game two, and you can share the pain with me on Twitter (@mhutton722)


  • Chris Burnham says:

    Is it available still on MLB.TV? Doesn’t seem to be because they don’t want it to clash with the Sunday Night game.

  • Jeremy C says:

    At least we get bourn back soon

  • Matt Hutton says:

    Chris, my understanding of the MLB blackout rules (as I also use MLB.TV) is that the game is radio only tonight because no TV is allowed to compete with ESPN’s rights, which kick in for any game scheduled to start after 5 p.m. on a Sunday.

  • Sean Porter says:

    This team collectively is going through what I call “Carlos Santana Syndrome”…

    They work pitchers very well, get the opposing starters’ pitch count up and get themselves in good hitters counts, then do nothing when they get their pitch to hit. Ironically, Santana is about the only hitter not suffering from the syndrome named after himself this season.

    I seriously wonder if the hitters are putting too much pressure on themselves because they know the starting rotation is bad? It seems like every game they are starting out the game behind, which is putting pressure on the offense, which is already struggling. A vicious cycle.

    It’s not even May yet, and I’m already finding myself looking ahead to the offseason and what the Tribe could do to improve the rotation.


  • Steve Alex says:

    Santana and Reynolds have been great. That’s the only thing nice I can say about the position players thus far. Three times shut out, but three more times breaking up the shutout by scoring in the 9th inning. Aviles has made the most of his chances; maybe he should get more playing time. Great job by Kluber tonight. He has so much more movement and location on his pitches compared to last year.

  • The Doctor says:

    Let’s hope Sunday was a sign of life from Cabrera. Him and Kipnis 2-3 in the order have been killing us, and we all know by this point Brantley mysteriously forgets how to hit whenever he’s forced to bat 1st. Hopefully Bourn will get back soon and that’ll jumpstart us a bit.

    Even with everyone healthy and not mired in a funk, I feel we are still going to have these kinds of games pretty frequently because of how many strikeout kings we have.

    The bigger concern to me is that it seems like everyone’s come down with a case of Cabrera’s complete inability to adjust his approach based on the situation – I’m getting mighty tired of first pitch weak rollovers and/or pop-outs with men on base.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I agree 100% Doc. The top of the order has been the biggest problem. Brantley is a no-go in the leadoff spot (Stubbs would be better until Bourn is back), and Kipnis needs to be moved down. Cabrera looks to be snapping out of it, which is a good sign. I liked seeing Swisher, Reynolds and Santana 3-4-5, with more playing time for Aviles. If I have to watch Raburn kill one more rally with men on base I’m going to slit my wrists. He must be leading the league in LOB. Happy Gilmore is getting a spot start this week. Tell the catchers to bring their biggest mits.