Second Thoughts Game #128: Twins 5, Indians 1
Bats slumber as Ubaldo’s strong start gets no support
More Dominant Starting Pitching
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez took his eighth loss of the season tonight and believe it or not, it wasn’t totally his own doing. While he did allow two runs on four hits in the first two innings, he pitched lights out the rest of the way going six innings and striking out a season-high 10 batters. The offense just couldn’t get much going against Sam Deduno and the Twins pitching staff aside from the RBI single by Carlos Santana in the first which scored Michael Bourn.
While many fans aren’t rushing out to by Ubaldo Jimenez jerseys, he is still having his best season since donning a Tribe uniform. In 24 starts, the right-hander has posted a 9-8 mark with a 3.95 ERA. The record may not say much, but five of those eight losses have come where he has given up three earned runs or less. In those starts, he’s either been let down by his defense or hasn’t gotten adequate run support. Unfortunately, the latter was the case on Friday night.
Prior to the game, it was revealed that Jimenez was making some tweaks to his mechanics during his last start against Oakland and Friday against the Twins (pitch grips, release point, etc.) in order to get more movement on his pitches, especially his slider and splitter. Through those two starts, Jimenez has posted a line of 11 and two-thirds innings with only three runs allowed on six hits, eight walks and 18 strikeouts. The 29-year-old has also shown a velocity spike at least on Friday night topping out at 95-96 mph.
The starting pitching continues to surprise with their dominance and consistency, outside of the brief, injury-shortened tenure of Brett Myers in the rotation and poor spot starts by Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. When limiting the rotation to Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir and recently-added Danny Salazar, the combined season ERA adds up to 3.76, which would put them second in the American League behind the Detroit Tigers.
We Need a Bat
There are cold streaks, slumps and then there are the Indians in August. Heading into Friday’s game, the Tribe was at or near the bottom of American League in batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.290) and slugging percentage (.359) in the month of August. Well, they didn’t help to boost those stats against Deduno and the Twins plating only one run on six hits.
Scoring opportunities were limited on Friday night for the Tribe, but they failed to take advantage going only 1-for-6 with runners scoring position. Aside from the RBI single by Santana in the first, the Tribe’s primary scoring opportunity came in the sixth inning where Bourn and Nick Swisher led off with back-to-back walks. Jason Kipnis then tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but failed and ended up striking out for the first out of the inning. After stealing second, Bourn was thrown out stealing third for the second out. Michael Brantley then grounded out to first to end the inning. The Twins would then score three runs in the following two innings to pad their lead to 5-1.
During an interview with local radio hosts Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti discussed the Indians’ activity on the waiver trade market and said that the team had made at least a dozen claims, but none have come to fruition as of yet. However, he did state that they are dedicated to making a deal to improve the team that they see feasible.
Despite Santana riding a five-game hitting streak, the Indians need a boost for their offense, preferably out of the cleanup spot. Some of the bigger names currently on the market include Justin Morneau and Chase Headley, but several other hitters could hit the waiver wire before the August 31st deadline.
Facts and Notes:
- Antonetti said Friday morning that the Indians have no imminent plans to remove or shut down rookie right-hander Danny Salazar despite previous notions of an innings limit. He stated that they hope to keep him in the rotation the rest of the season, or until fatigue or ineffectiveness sets in.
- Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis are both currently mired in rare extended slumps going 0-for-19 and 0-for-18, respectively.
- Newly-acquired infielder David Cooper was activated from the disabled list and assigned to AAA Columbus after hitting .440 (11-for-25) in six rehab games at Arizona Rookie League. Cooper went 1-for-4 in his debut for the Clippers on Friday night.
- Drew Stubbs, who had never played right field in his MLB career prior to 2013, has now committed a career-high six errors after botching a play against the Twins.
Up Next: Indians vs. Twins @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05pm ET.
After a minor last-minute rotation shuffle, Zach McAllister will get the start in game two of the series against the Twins and Liam Hendriks. McAllister is coming off of back-to-back quality starts, one of which was against the Twins back in Minnesota where he pitched six innings of one-run ball to earn the win. Hendriks has yet to pitch against the Tribe this season, but is 1-0 with a 5.29 ERA in three career starts against them.
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When Rayburn is healthy he is hitting - and not playing regularly. Perhaps we need to make Stubbs OF no. 4.
Mike Aviles is hitting - and not playing regularly. Perhaps what we need is a utility infielder so that Aviles can play 3b.