Second Thoughts: Game #108 Tigers 10, Indians 8
There is really not a lot more that can be said about the Indians fall of late. It has been rough to watch, and has really made a lot of people question the Tribe. I think the biggest non story that this rough stretch has brought to my attention has been how Jason Kipnis has been awful since May. He was merely below average in June, but has been horrid since then. For a guy who was such a huge part of the lineup, this scares me. The reason is simple: why is it that the two best young bats on this team have become completely unraveled, and only a year after the same thing happened to Choo? The Indians have five legit plus bats. These are guys who could be on the majority of teams in baseball, and have done well this year, but if the team was going to contend it needs them to not fall apart for months at a time.
My thoughts on today's starter are that when you get a chance to have a twelve-year minor leaguer who multiple organizations have given up on, well then it makes perfect sense to start him over other young options in the system, when your team is on their worst losing streak in recent memory.
The first third of the game
The Indians were able to do something they have failed to do on this losing streak, and that's strike early. Asdrubal went deep and Santana worked the count, which set up for Michael Brantley, who is the most underappreciated Indian in my opinion. He has cut down on his strikeouts, hitting a ton of doubles, and working counts. I am in the extreme minority, but the CC deal to me is not awful because we got an above average regular out of it. For a team that has struggled in all aspects of hitting, the single by Brantley was huge. Pronk followed with a single of his own to give the Indians a two-run lead, which is about as many runs as the Indians average a game during this bad stretch.
Seddon came out and looked every bit the journeymen minor leaguer giving up two singles to start the game, but he should be given credit for escaping the heart of the Tigers order by only giving up one run. He did nothing impressive, but one has to say the results were solid.
The best player the Indians have right now is Choo, who showed it by belting his 13th homerun of the year. If you remember back to the start of the year, Choo was pretty bad for the first two months. So when you see that he has a line .290/.376/.482/.858, well it says a lot for just how good he has been since June. This is the Choo of old that this team had missed for a little over a year. There is not a line up in baseball that he would not crack. The Indians second best hitter, Brantley, followed with a double, but Pronk struck out to end the inning.
Austin Jackson had one of the rarest feats a hitter can have, a stand up triple to lead things off. He scored on a Miguel Cabrera ground out, and Seddon again managed to escape in spite of not being sharp at all this game.
Middle of the game
In the 4th the Tigers managed to tie it up. The Indians managed to manufacture a run in the 5th, thanks to two Asdrubal stolen bases and a Santana single.
The 5-4 lead did not last as Seddon gave up a home run to Infante in the Tigers half of the 5th, and is pulled going only 4 2/3 innings. I am going to first and second guess the choice of Seddon. With all the players in system they could not find someone else to come up and have a bad start. There is no defending five runs in and not being able to even go five innings. I would rather just see Gomez go again then use an arm with that little value. I don't see the point or rational to this call up, your team is in a historic slump let's just go get journeymen pitcher who has no major league success to help the team win one.
As for the rest of the middle innings, the Indians fans got to see more of Cody Allen who looks like the future for this team in the eighth going forward. His work should allow the Tribe to seriously consider moving Perez during the wavier period or maybe this offseason.
The last 4 innings
If you did not know this game went extras I apologize for the spoiler. The Indians were able to score a run to go up 6-5 on a Hafner single in 7th, but in what is really the story of the game, the Tribe right away gave up that lead in the next inning. Joe Smith got roughed by a pair of righties, but Vinnie Pestano somehow came into limit the damage and then pitched a perfect 8th as well. Easily the top pitcher on the entire team right now. Just another great performance by Vinnie P.
Tomlin came on in relief in the 9th and gave up a leadoff Triple, intentionally walked Cabrera and Fielder to load the bases with one out and then goy the double play to escape. It felt like a huge moment to somehow escape. Over the past 9 games nothing had gone right for the Tribe, this seemed liked a major break.
Then a most unlikely pairing went deep for the Tribe. Travis Hafner is mostly a singles hitter anymore, but he managed a 422 ft homerun which seemed to take all pressure off the Tribe. Then little Zeke Carrera managed to follow it up by homering to right. The Tribe were not done as Hannahan singled then Marson doubled him in. It seemed serendipitous, getting out of the jam in the 9th then scoring three in the tenth.
Chris Perez came out and got two quick outs. Then he unraveled, instead of challenging their 8th and 9th hitter, Perez walked them. Then a double, single, homerun, and like that is a five-run 10th blowing a three-run lead with two outs and the game.
For the first time in the entire 100+ year history of the Tribe, a Tribe team goes 0-9 on a road trip.
The bats did their job yesterday. Zeke Carrera has been on fire since he was called up and went 3-5 on the afternoon. Pronk had three RBI's and a lot of timely hitting. Choo continued to play like an all star. Asdrubal got on base twice and scored two runs, and one was entirely thanks to his base running. Both Santana and Brantley reached base three times as well. Kip and Lillibridge were the only starters without a hit, and Choo was the only other starter who did not have multiple hits. No one can place any blame on the hitters yesterday.
It started with the odd choice of Chris Seddon to start. Yes, he might have the best numbers in AAA, but is he really an upgrade? The Indians might have been better with Tomlin for another game. He managed to kill all momentum in this game, as every time the Tribe scored, you could count on the Tigers scoring the next inning, which was a trend that continued with the pen. Joe Smith was not his usually dominant self against righties and that ended up causing this game to go to extras. This all pales though to the Perez implosion in the 10th. There is no reason to rehash it anymore, I just hope he rebounds. With the way this team is playing you have to wonder if he is a potential waiver trade candidate. His value will never be higher than it is right now, where he is not a rental, and the Indians have Vinnie waiting in the wings.
The Big Picture
Well it looks like the Indians are on their way to another top ten pick, which would be their third in four years. I have to think that some changes are going to happen. As a fan I am very worried about all the regression on the squad this year both in terms of hitting and pitching. This should be the number one concern. Why is it that so many guys are backsliding, or just not performing like they should? It's going to be a long end of the year. It will be interesting to see what decisions are made, but I will say this, I doubt that Lowe and Damon are the last guys this team cuts before the season is over.
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you might as well be good at it. If the Indians get sweep by the Twins they will be tied. Support the players. Fire the management. Go tribe.