Indians Waste Another Stellar Pitching Performance
What a summer of discontent this is shaping up to be. April is barely halfway over and already the Indians are baffling all of their followers, as well as themselves, as the team has now frustratingly sputtered to a 7-12 start this year. Sunday was just par for the course, as the Indians dropped yet another game and yet another series as they fell to the Twins 2-1 in 10 innings.
After taking the opening series against the division leading White Sox, the Indians had not won another series since. The closest had been a split of a 2 game series with Detroit, but overall they had dropped or tied 5 straight series. So Sunday was a big game for the Indians as it was the first game they had which could clinch a series since April 9th against the Angels (a game they also lost, of course). Paul Byrd was outstanding again for the Tribe, as he pitched 7 innings of 6 hit ball, and just gave up one run on a solo home run to Brendan Harris in the bottom of the 3rd. Byrd walked zero and struck out three.
Franklin Gutierrez got things started in the top of the 2nd with his two-out RBI single. After Harris tied it up with his solo shot in the 3rd, that would be all the scoring until the 10th inning. In the 8th inning, Masa Kobayashi came in to relieve Paul Byrd and after giving up a lead off single retired the next 2 batters. Rafael Perez then came on and walked the first batter he faced before striking out Justin Morneau to end the threat. Perez came back in for the 9th and got 3 quick outs with just one single allowed as the only damage for the inning. Then in the 10th, Perez again came out and got the first 2 batters out before the trouble set in. Brendan Harris and Jason Kubel each singled to put runners on first and third with 2 outs and Morneau at the plate again. This time, the former MVP got his job done and drove in Harris as the winning run and securing the 2-1 victory over the Indians.
It was another pathetic offensive display by the Indians bats. If you discount Sabathia’s wretched performances, the Indians have had 7 straight quality starts by their rotation. In those 7 games, though, the team is just 3-4 as they continuously waste good starts. After scoring 11 runs on 13 hits against the Tigers and then 4 runs on 5 hits in the series opener against the Twins, it looked like the Indians offense was starting to wake up. But they followed that up by scoring just 1 run in the final 2 games. They managed 8 hits on Saturday and just 6 hits on Sunday. They stranded 11 runners over the final 2 games. On Sunday, it was Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez who let the offense down as they each stranded 3 runners a piece.
I am officially hitting the panic button. I’m not saying the Indians can’t bounce back and still win the division, because there’s still plenty of time left for that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not time to start worrying. The Indians are simply awful right now. Even if CC Sabathia can figure out his problems, it probably won’t even matter because the offense is so clueless right now. Basically, the team has 2.5 good hitters. Garko and Martinez have been good hitters as always, and Sizemore started the year off hitting well but has since cooled off. Otherwise, there’s not another halfway decent consistent hitter in this lineup. There’s an old adage that says in sports, if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward. I think this applies to the Indians roster. By not making any changes to it in the offseason, the Indians certainly didn’t get any better. And since there’s no such thing as staying the same in baseball, it means the Indians are getting worse. It’s easy to overreact to one game or one series, or maybe even one month. But when the symptoms are all there, you can choose to ignore them and hope they go away, or you can go to the doctor and get them checked out. The Indians need to schedule themselves a doctor’s appointment.