Royals 9, Indians 3: Is This Rock Bottom?

Lets start out with the positives.

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect afternoon for a baseball game. At first pitch, it was 70 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze. What a day to take off a couple of hours to go down to a still excellent ballpark and watch some professional baseball. Scott joined me for a “lunch break” from his real job. As usual, my chicken fingers basket was delicious (mad props to whoever decided last year to add Honey Mustard to the condiments stand). Last but not least, Russell Branyan threw a ball into the stands coming off the field which the guy next to me dropped and it fell right into my lap. Who says Russ isn’t giving us anything this year?

Notice in the “positives” section you didn’t see anything about baseball? Sure, I could have mentioned Jhonny Peralta’s two run home run or Travis Hafner’s first inning RBI single. Other than those, I defy you to find me something good that happened on the field.

First and foremost let me just say that “Sour” Luis Valbuena’s time with the big club should be up for now. His .152 batting average is bad enough, but his defense and overall look on the field has been just brutal. Yesterday may have taken the cake. Though it wasn’t as costly as the horrific error he made that cost the Indians a game against Toronto two weeks ago, Valbuena claimed something I’ve never heard in all of my years of watching baseball.

He lost a groundball in the sun.

You had to have seen the play to believe it. With the Indians down 6-3 in the seventh, Mike Aviles sent a double play ground ball just to the right of Valbuena. It looked to be an easy play. Except Luis just didn’t move. It was the strangest thing.

“He told me, ‘If the ball would have come right at my face, it would have hit me,’ ” Manny Acta explained. “That’s the first time I’ve seen it, but it’s my first year here, too.”

To make matters worse, Shin-Soo Choo let the ball go right under his glove in right, allowing Scott Podsednik to score all the way from first. Somehow Aviles was credited with a single on the play. The way the Indians offense has been going, you knew a three run deficit was probably going to be insurmountable. The Valbuena boot led the way to a three-run inning for the Royals, who cruised to a 9-3 win.

Without Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore, the Indians lineup yesterday was  essentially Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta, and a bunch if misfits. I mean, when you get complete-gamed by Luke Hochevar and his 5.86 ERA, you know its bad. The bottom four in the order – Branyan, Matt LaPorta, Valbuena, and Lou Marson – combined to go 0-13. At .215, LaPorta has the highest batting average of the four. My favorite whipping boy, Branyan, has seen his average dip below the Mendoza line and is mired in a 1-22 slump.

And its not as if the top of the order featured AC and Grady. Trevor Crowe led off, followed by Jason Donald. The ’95 Indians are turning over in their graves and the guys aren’t even dead yet. “We’re not doing much offensively,” Acta said, “and it puts a lot of pressure on our pitching staff.”

Mitch Talbot tried his best, but he just didn’t have it. “The Fury” was knocked around early and often by the now fourth place Royals. They got two in the second and four in the third, capped by Alberto Callaspo’s absolute bomb to the bullpen in right. It was a fastball up, over the plate,” Talbot said. “It was a good one to hit. I think I could have hit that one out.”

Give him credit though, he still went six innings and saved a tired bullpen. I was not throwing strikes,” Talbot said. “Pretty much the whole game, I wasn’t throwing strikes with my fastball and offspeed pitches. I’ve had a couple games where [my stuff] hasn’t been as good. But this was by far the worst. I didn’t have a whole lot going for me today.”

Talbot seems like a stand up guy, doesn’t he? I like his candor. I guess you have to keep a good sense of humor when you are pitching for a last place team.

Now in the AL Central cellar (that’s about as low as you can get), the Tribe welcomes their in-state friends from Cincinnati. Jake Westbrook (2-2, 4.37), coming off back to back great starts (15 IP, one earned run) faces Bronson Arroyo (3-2, 4.78).

photo via Chuck Crow/PD

  • Omar13Vizquel

    This season raises the eternal Northeast Ohio existential question: Is it worse to contend and then lose heart-breakingly at the end, or to stink the joint out all year long?

  • BW

    This is in fact the bottom. Getting killed by the Royals?! Never in a million years did I think I’d see this team fall that far!

  • B-bo

    Come now, while being in last place of the AL Central is bad, rock bottom isn’t until we trade away Choo for pennies on the dollar.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    That Valbuena play was unbelievable.

  • MattyFos

    I thought rock bottom was signing Russ Branyan and expecting him to be our best hitter.

  • DCBucks

    This almost as bad as the Indians of my youth. Trust me they could/will be worse.

  • MattyFos

    Scott- I’ve seen so many elementary ground balls botched by this team. A fielding error is no longer unbelievable, at least not for me.
    I find it unbelievable that there are people on this roster who are in the bigs. You look at the batting order and it just strikes me as a AAA team. You know how major leaguers play stints in the minors? Well this is Choo minor league stint. Choo coming off of the DL playing with a bunch of scrubs so he can hit the ground running when he gets back on the actual Indians.

  • Boogeyman

    People actually still watch? When the brainfarts finally call up
    Santana I’ll take a look but until then sports in this town are over.
    I think like LeBron it’s time for a change for me too! Oh wait
    football isn’t that far away. Ugh!

  • AMC

    Can Branyan truly be in a “slump” if he was never hitting to begin with?

    His “slump” started the second the front office brain trust decided to sign him.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    On the bright side: Strasburg start June 4 at Nats ballpark. WHEEEEEEE BEISBOL!

  • stin4u

    We can set precedence in the majors with Valbuena…..first team to send a player back to tee-ball.

  • stin4u

    @Denny – lol, I’m actually dying to see how that kid is in the bigs…he’s been so untouchable in the minors it’s going to be interesting to see how he reacts to being called up.

  • MattyFos

    Denny, go watch Strasburg and give us up to the second updates. I would like to know what he does in the dugout.. So you may have to sit in the outfield with binoculars. I trust you will not disappoint.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com BAJ22

    The “sun was in my eyes” ground ball reminded me of “Major League”…especially when Choo missed it as well!! However, I’m confident this team would be competitive in AAA…well, for sure AA.

  • stin4u

    Can we begin the countdown to the Strasburg free agency?

  • JNeids

    This team makes the Indians from “Major League” look good by comparison. Speaking of comparisons…
    Choo = Tanaka
    Hafner = Pedro Cerrano
    Peralta = Dorn
    Sizemore = Willie Mays Hays (speedster trying to hit for power, now on the DL for an injury suffered while filming “White Lightning, Black Thunder…although I’m not sure which he is)
    Marson = Rube Baker
    Westbrook = Eddie Harris
    Bruce Drennan = Harry Doyle
    Dolan = Rachel Phelps

  • AMC

    Neidus FTW!

  • Harv 21

    Rock bottom, ha – bless you, young’uns. So pure. You have no idea.

    Here’s some sypmtoms that we are closer:

    – no one offers you their seats. The only ones who own season seat packages are those weird middle aged, live-in-my-mom’s-basement-you-should-see-my-beer-can-collection guys who yell stuff at the players all game long.

    -team is comedians’ punch line nationwide.

    Not yet there, maybe soon.

  • JM

    JNeids is Chris Perez Wild Thing then? You nailed everyone else! Quick thoughts: Anyone else remember Acta being excited and saying the team looks great? Yep thats because it was spring training coach! I saw in the paper Santana had 2 RBIS yet again yesterday yet Marson continues to catch. Considering neither catcher can call a game I say why not bring up Santana considering he hits. And I guess Peralta really wants his position back. As far as the team playing lousy, you guys didn’t see this coming?

  • Rick

    Memo to Larry Dolan: what in the world do you want the fans to do? On the coatails of a 97 loss season, you sign mike redmond and russell branyon in the offseason. Seriously, when you and the front office wave the white flag in surrender in January/February, are you really suggesting 20,000 people show up for games. The 11,500 (announced attendance) that do show up is beyond remarkable……what exactly is the plan here…i’m not looking for the 5-year strategic vision/plan, but for crying out loud, what are you asking me to get behind?

  • JM

    Rick they’re not rebuilding. They say we can contend and rebuild! We can do both!!