Second Thoughts Game #51: Indians 2, Reds 8
No fruits for McAllister's labor as Tribe drops fifth straight
No command? No problem
With no outs in the first inning, Zach McAllister allowed a run on three straight hits and ended up allowing three runs overall by the end of the frame while throwing over 20 pitches. McAllister had noticeable command issues and lack of feel for the strike zone. Heading into Tuesday night’s start, McAllister had pitched at least five innings and hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his nine previous starts this season. That streak appeared to be on the line after a rough first inning where the right-hander appeared to be pegged for his first early exit of the season.
Cut to the second inning: McAllister quickly retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. By the time he was pulled from the game, he had pitched five and a third innings and hadn’t allowed a run since the first despite allowing a runner to get into scoring position in all but one inning. This is just another example of how much Zach McAllister has improved as a starter and that even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he can still battle deep into games and keep his team in them.
So far, the combination of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez (the good one), and Zach McAllister has been just about as good as any 1-2-3 combo in an average MLB starting rotation. Unfortunately, the recent bullpen struggles and offensive inconsistencies have overshadowed what has been a solid stretch of pitching from the rotation.
Bullpen woes continue
Trying to figure out the recent disastrous performances by the Indians bullpen is about as tough a task as anything. Yes, Chris Perez is injured, but given the resume of this corps of relievers over the last few seasons, Perez’s injury shouldn’t trigger a meltdown as bad as this.
Could the shifting of bullpen roles be wreaking havoc on the pitchers’ minds? Does the Tribe need to find another left-handed relief option? Possibly, but even those doesn’t explain a complete collapse by previously reliable pitchers.
I don’t have all the answers and neither does Tribe skipper Terry Francona, but I think he put it best during his postgame interview where he said, “We’ll regroup and play tomorrow”. That’s all they can do at this point and hope this past week has just been an anomaly.
Leadership being tested
If this were the 2012 team with Manny Acta at the helm and the only veteran presence being the likes of Casey Kotchman, Shelley Duncan and Johnny Damon, I’d be worried. This year, I’m not. In the 2013 Cleveland Indians clubhouse, we have Terry Francona, Nick Swisher, Jason Giambi and other leaders or seasoned veterans that have seen both the best and the worst of baseball over their marquee careers.
Fans fear a repeat of last August, where the Tribe lost over 20 games. I guarantee that it will not happen again with the aforementioned guys in the clubhouse. They won’t allow it. Last year, there was no one to step up and inspire this relatively young Indians team when they fell into a tailspin. Let’s also remember that this team had a rough 8-13 start to the year and figured out how to snap out of it and go on an 18-4 run.
Things don’t get any easier for the Tribe, though, as they have more tough competition coming up including the likes of Detroit, Texas and New York. The legitimacy of the leadership and the whole team in general will be tested over the coming weeks, but patience is key in times like these both for the players and the fans.
Up Next: Reds vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. 7:05pm ET first pitch.
Home sweet home. The Indians finish their disappointing road trip at 1-5, but it’s over and the Tribe can hopefully start fresh on the new home stand. However, they will have to get through the same Reds who took the first two games in Cincinnati.
The pitching matchup should look familiar as Justin Masterson will take to the mound for Cleveland against the Reds’ Bronson Arroyo. Their last meeting should be a positive memory for Tribe fans as Masterson pitched a complete game in an 8-1 Indians victory last June. A similar outcome would be a real shot in the arm for this team right now.
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Likewise, look back at the big relief blow ups and (last night included) there are a fair number of errors compounding the struggling reliver on the mound.
Marky Mark should never get near third base with a glove on unless we are buried in mercy rule land or its the desperate last move in extra innings.
And yes, Nick Hagman is done as an Indian. Stuff or no stuff he hasn't been the same since he smashed his hand last year and got his agent to file a union excuse.
Likewise, Rich Hills history with Tito is exausted - the future is now. I want to see Shap/Ant start to give more cup of coffee oppertunities to kids posting #'s from AA & AAA.
Tony is right. This is a .500 club with the right fight in them to be scary to any contender come Sept.
Right now they need to grab onto Tito's coat and grind it out.