For pretty much the entire season thus far, the narrative has remained the same: this team can hit, but can only go as far as its pitching takes them. Over the last month, the pitching has been pretty good, and the team’s record has been great; last night at Progressive Field, however, the pitching was not so good, and the result was not pretty.

First, the good: The Indians hitters (minus Nick Swisher) again worked Verlander, forcing him to throw 110 pitches in just five innings. They collected 10 hits and 5 earned runs off the former Cy Young winner, and would go on to score seven runs overall. Santana, slumping for a few weeks now, put some really nice swings on the ball in this game and collected his eighth home run. Yan Gomes also hit another Home Run.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the positivity I can draw out of this game. Ubaldo was back to being UGHbaldo, as his command and velocity were back into the danger zone from the outset on Wednesday night. Jimenez only managed to get through four innings, allowing six runs in the process. Still, however, six runs from Ubaldo doesn’t qualify as a true meltdown and the Indians offense was certainly capable of making up that deficit. Once again, the non-featured part of the Indians bullpen had to come in and hold the score where it was and failed to do it.

David Huff was the primary culprit, as he allowed three more runs in his lone inning of “relief.” His ERA is now up to 15.00 on the season, and he officially earned his Firemaking Merit Badge last night.

To punctuate how much last night was not the Indians’ night, Rich Hill ended up giving up a home run to Miggy Cabrera that was about 2 feet short of the yellow line. Unfortunately, the ball bounced in and out of Michael Bourn’s glove and disappeared into the seats. That’s right, the Indians gave up a home run that wasn’t a home run, and Angel Hernandez wasn’t even involved.

The last two nights are disheartening, but losing to those two pitchers (Scherzer and Verlander) is nothing to hang your head over. The Indians will look to regroup as they head to Fenway Park for a series against the Red Sox, also a team looking to contend this season. For all the ducking and weaving about the Indians chance to contend all season, this next month will be the truest barometer of this team: if the Indians can come out of this stretch of their schedule where they play every team over .500 in baseball (at least, that’s how it seems) and still have a record over the break-even mark, I think we can settle down and prepare for the long haul.

It’s going to take a considerably better effort from the pitching than we saw on Wednesday night, however.

 

8 Comments

  • Steve Alex says:

    Our lefthanded relief has been terrible for two years. That needs to be addressed at the deadline. Hill has done a decent job but needs help and Hagadone/Barnes/Huff haven’t helped at all. The rotation will have to be addressed soon as well. Ubaldo, Kazmir and Myers are over 6.00 and Kluber isn’t far behind despite pitching very well at times. We need to find out before the trade deadline whether Carrasco and Bauer can help this year or not. Early signs are that both would be upgrades right now. It might be time to give them a shot. This team has a real chance to contend if a few weaknesses are addressed before it’s too late.

    • Drew says:

      It seemed to me last night that Francona was waiving the white flag when he brought in David Huff in a game that was not over. When the 2013 Indians can force any pitcher to throw 25-30 pitches an innings, it is only a matter of time before they put up a crooked number on the scoreboard. Only when David Huff came in and allowed the score to balloon to 9-2, was it really looking bad. The Indians thought back and scored 5 runs over the next 2 innings to get back in the game, but the 3-spot by Huff in the 5th where he allowed 4 consecutive singles. Had Yan Gomes not bailed him out with his arm, I bet the damage would have been worse. The man should be DFA’d.

      • The Doctor says:

        This is exactly what I was thinking last night. Putting Huff in, in essentially any situation, is pretty much throwing up your hands and calling the game over. I’ll cut the Francona regime some slack since this is his first season, but you’d think by this point that the Antonetti/Shapiro part of the braintrust would realize what they have in Huff – nothing.

        my other thoughts:
        - So Giambi is “great with the young players”, blah blah blah. Fantastic. Doesn’t mean he needs to waste a roster spot.
        - Gomes, again!
        - Using Brantley in the cleanup spot these past couple of games has looked pretty savvy.

  • Adam Hintz says:

    I get what you’re all saying about Huff and others, but let me say this:

    David Huff is on the ML roster because he tore up AAA with good peripherals, Vinnie was hurt, and the Indians needed a body. He came in to pitch because the next time the Indians have an off day we will be into June.

    Yeah, Huff is a bad pitcher, but sometimes a manager needs to say “we need an inning or two from our worst guy here” and last night Huff wasn’t equal to the task. He’ll be gone soon, and the move looks dumb in hindsight, but I understand it.

    Now, Giambi. I’ve said on Twitter multiple times he’s the best .180 hitter in the league. Now he’s the best .160 hitter in the league. I don’t mind having him on the roster… why?

    -He still puts in a better at-bat than half the team. He makes the pitcher work, he doesn’t give in to junk. The bat speed may not be there, but the hitting eye is.
    -He doesn’t look overmatched, and the peripherals support it. Giambi’s BABIP this season is .171. His career BABIP is .296. He’ll be fine in that 25th-man-and-assistant-manager role.

    • Drew says:

      so are you suggesting that with a .171 BABIP that he has just been unlucky?

      • Adam Hintz says:

        Yeah. I am.

        In April his BABIP was .200 (still way below career average), but he managed a .790 OPS even with a .214 batting average. In May his BABIP has fallen to .143, suggesting some really bad luck.

        I’ll worry about Giambi when he starts looking like Lonnie Chisenhall (read: completely lost) at the plate.

  • Cale says:

    What needs to be done to keep Gomes’ bat in the lineup? Those ABs have to come at Giambi’s expense right now, don’t they?

    • Adam Hintz says:

      It’s hard, because the Indians have three players who can catch: Santana, Marson, and Gomes.

      Santana isn’t going anywhere, but he’s also versatile at first, too. The only problem is that his bat is above average for a catcher, but somewhat more “average” for first basemen, so playing him there isn’t ideal.

      Gomes is definitely better than Marson right now, at least in my opinion. He’s shown more offensive pop with his bat than Marson has at any point in his career, and he’s throwing out baserunners, as well. The only problem is that there’s an unwritten rule that says a guy can’t lose his job to injury, especially when that injury was suffered in the line of duty (it all goes back to that play at the plate in Tampa).

      Right now, I imagine the Indians know Gomes is better, but they don’t want to take any step until they have to. They’re probably hoping Marson goes down for a long time or Gomes trails off, so they decision is made for them.
      We’ll have to wait and see, but Gomes is not going to take Giambi’s roster spot. I still say Giambi puts up better at bats (Gomes is allergic to walks, for instance).