July 25, 2014

Another Chance Wasted – Tribe Loses 7-5

Brewers Indians BaseballAnother night, another April flashback. Monday night it was the bullpen, last night it was hitting in clutch spots. The Indians certainly had plenty of chances to take control of this game, but literally failed every single time in the 7-5 loss to Milwaukee.

They took Brewers start Yovani Gallardo completely off the hook, despite working him for six walks and 116 pitches in five innings. Other than Mark DeRosa’s one-out first inning solo blast looked like it would be the start of something big. Gallardo walked the next three batters, but the Tribe could only manage to push one more across on a Travis Hafner RBI fielder’s choice.

In the third, the Tribe had two on with two out, but Ben Francisco, who continues to get exposed each and every day, weakly grounded to third. In the fifth inning, they again loaded the bases with one out, but rookie Chris Gimenez looked bad striking out swinging and Francisco grounded into a fielder’s choice to kill the rally. In the sixth, Josh Barfield led off with a double and was moved over to third on a Luis Valbuena ground out. While they did get Barfield in, it was on a DeRosa ground out. The big hit eluded them all night long.

At this point, it was still a one run game at 4-3.

They had yet another shot in the bottom of the seventh. Shin-Soo Choo hit a double to open the inning to again put the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. Ryan Garko K’d miserably on a pitch that was a good five feet off of the plate. After Travis Hafner was intentionally walked (for the second time), Eric Wedge went to his bench for contact man Jamey Carroll. JC struck out looking on a borderline call from noted clown CB Bucknor. It was again up to Francisco. For a third time, he popped out on the first pitch to end the threat. Benny is now locked into a 3-31 slump and is hitting .156 in the month of June. Time for Trevor Crowe to get more time in Center. Not that he is the answer either.

That was for all intents and purposes, the ballgame. For the night, the Indians were 1-15 with runners in scoring position (Travis Hafner’s two run-homer in the ninth being the only hit). Milwaukee pitchers Gallardo and Todd Coffey gave them every chance to take this game, yet they never could capitalize.

Then there is the pitching. Jeremy Sowers started and again hit the wall in the fifth inning. Give STO analyst Rick Manning credit. He said on more than one occasion that when Sowers gets behind in the count, opposing hitters can sit on any pitch they want. He continued to nibble around the zone, throwing 99 pitches in his five innings of work. “He’s still controlling damage. He just needs to be more efficient so he can get into the sixth or seventh so we can set up the bullpen,” said Wedge.

The bottom line – Sowers is at best, a fifth starter. Despite his numbers of late, don’t be surprised when he is dropped from the rotation when Jake Westbrook and Aaron Laffey are ready at the end of the month.

Sowers’ failure to get past the fifth inning forced The Grinder’s hand to go to the pen early. After going through seemingly everyone the night before, he summoned Jensen Lewis.  What happened to this guy? He was so dominant down the stretch in 07 and 08, yet his stuff continues to be flat and right down the middle. One batter he looks like a world-beater, and the next two tag him. Jenny Lew looks like he needs to be sent to Columbus to find himself. He allowed three earned runs over his two plus innings of work.

The shame of the last two nights is that the Tribe has had a real chance to gain ground in the division. Said Wedge: “If you look at the last two nights, there are a lot of things you don’t like to see.” With the Tigers losing again last night to the Cardinals, they still are only 6.5 games back.

Amazing.

  • http://Peralta kersh

    From ESPN:

    Indians 3B-SS Jhonny Peralta, in a 5-for-35 slump, didn’t play. Manager Eric Wedge said thinks Peralta is trying to pull the ball too much. “He’s got to get his head straight. He’s not a baby anymore. He’s been up here four or five years. He’s got to figure it out. It’s the big leagues.”

    Is Wedge showing some toughness? Is it enough?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    yes and no.

    He’s known for not throwing his players under the bus, but he’s held no punches this year. Love it. But it may be too little too late.

  • Boomhauer

    Wedge has got to go. I blame the Tribe’s terrible hitting with runners in scoring position on the fact that he has the team wound too tight. It’s apparent on a much bigger scale when you look at how the team plays when they’re expected to be in the race as opposed to out of it.

  • Harv 21

    @ #3: I agree Wedge teams play differently when they sense no pressure, but some other patterns are also becoming clear. Like very successful minor leaguers who can’t adjust after the league has a “book” on them. Garko was very disciplined with two strikes in ’07 when he came up, and showed a hint of power. Now, he’s lost both. Francisco won a Triple A batting title, which should translate into a major league hitter. Same thing for him after once around the league. With pitchers, look at Sowers, Jeremy Guthrie. I’m wondering if they have the right coaches or approach. Maybe this “work the count” doesn’t work so well for young hitters still adjusting to big league stuff. Maybe Garko and Francisco might be doing better if a Charlie Manuel-type hitting coach was encouraging them to rip at a pitch they like even early in the count.

  • Tim

    Is Peralta really trying to pull the ball? To me, it looks like he tries to shoot everything the other way so much that he ends up fouling a lot of pitches off to the right side, even balls he could be pulling with power. I’ll have to watch more closely and see what he’s really doing.

  • DK

    In my humble opinion, I think you need to look closer at Carl Willis. Where can you go to find a job where the people who directly report to you fail, and you’re not the one in trouble? Plain and simple, his pitchers are undisiplined nibblers that dont have good enough “stuff” to fall behind and still get someone out…besides Wood, who is a power arm? we dont have anyone that instills fear at all out of the pen…once upon a time it might have been raffy left…but when raffy right went down, its just been a snowball effect…

    as far as the other side of the ball…Garko is the biggest disappointment in this clubs regime…i dont know why you continue to waste a roster spot on him…hes slower than vic and haf, he has 10 hr power from such a stocky guy, and he seems to fail everytime hes in a big spot in the game (not necessarily with RISP, but game on the line type of thing)…hes a below average fielder, a nightmare in the outfield, he doesnt have that good of an arm…why is he still here?

    I would rather see LaPorta up and be given Garko’s at bats…hes younger, faster, a better prospect, and a way bigger upside…and i mean, you dont necessarily have to be a gold glover to play first…(though i wouldnt put it past LaPorta – hes gifted physically)

    on to Benny – he seems to be pulling off of everything lately, and is reluctant to hit to the opposite field…seems like he fell in love with his ability to hit Sonnenstine, and since then has been trying to hit HRs…thats not his game…

    Crowe is a 4-5th OF at best…a pinch runner…

    I like Valbuena’s energy and ability at short, but I would like to see barfield more…he no longer has the look of a deer in headlights…hes playing hard, and looks a LOT better than the times hes been up here before…Carroll will play wherever you stick him, as well as DeRo…

    that being said, Peralta seems to be ok at 3rd…hes 6’3…i think hes days as a SS are over…hes just too big for that spot…

    I think haf is gonna get hurt again within a week or two…he just looks too fragile to me…if so, you have to bring up LaPorta…you need a masher in the lineup somewhere…

    I just hope we have a better prospect for a Catcher whos almost ready…I cant stand watching Shop behind the plate anymore…he doesnt block balls in the dirt well, he cant throw runners out any better than Vic, and hes just horrible at the plate this year…

    I hope they find some pitchers somewhere, otherwise this is going to be a long year of fans thinking they’re “turning the corner” only to have our stomachs turned and our souls ripped out when they continue to play boneheaded baseball…ya know…not moving runners over, not WALKING 8 and 9 hitters…(i swear i almost vomitted in my mouth when they walked Jason “0 homers in my career” Kendall)…

  • DK

    correction : Jason Kendall has an average of 6 HR’s over his career.

    Scary power. BETTER WALK HIM!!!! :)