I seriously don’t understand how a team can fall off the table so hard and so fast. Well, actually I can. What we have witnessed over the last three weeks has made us all forget the first three months where the Indians played close games and won their fair share. Nowadays its one bad blowout loss after another with a team that doesn’t hit well, doesn’t pitch well, and all of a sudden plays bad defense. In a word, they are sloppy.
Take last night’s latest debacle. I happened to be in Anaheim for this one, scouting out the newest Indians starter, Roberto Hernandez. I don’t know who came up with the nickname “Fauxberto,” but we are going with that for the time being to describe the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Reasons to watch this team are becoming few and far between, especially for the casual fan and an eastern time zone start of 10:05.
TV’s all over Northeast Ohio clicked off by the end of the second inning thanks to a the porous Tribe defense.
After retiring the Angels in order in the first and looking good doing so, Fauxberto allowed back to back singles to Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo. Both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Alberto Callaspo kept the singles parade going, driving in Morales. With runners at first and third, Hernandez got the double play ball he was looking for to minimize the damage, but fill-in shortstop, aka my boy Brent Lillibridge, booted the ball. It was now 2-0 Angels.
Maicer Izturis dropped down a sacrifice bunt which both Fauxberto and Carlos Santana let drop without making a play. The sad sack defense wasn’t even close to being done. Chris Iannetta’s sac fly brought in Callaspo to put the Angels on the board. After Mike Trout’s fielder’s choice, Erick Aybar stepped to the plate. Trout, the AL leader in steals, took off for second. For some strange reason, Santana thought it was a great idea to try and throw him out at second with a man standing on third. His throw was not even close and way offline. Vernon Wells scored on the play. To make matters worse, Lillibridge’s throw home got by Santana and Trout ended up on third. He came in on Aybar’s RBI triple.
So to sum up, the Tribe gave up five runs and committed three errors in the horror show that was the bottom of the second, not including the non-play on the bunt.
“We played terrible defense behind him, especially in that second inning,” Acta said. “He threw two double-play balls, and we couldn’t turn either of them. On one of them we didn’t even get an out. … I thought he deserved better.”
It was all over but the shouting at that point.
Fauxberto was essentially asked to wear this one with Ubaldo’s putrid performance last night taxing the bullpen. He allowed a run in the third, another in the fourth on Trout’s 22nd homer, and gave up a second solo jack to the .209 hitting Iannetta in the sixth.
The only saving grace was being at the game with my old friends from Cleveland Billy and Fritzer who reside in LA. Oh, that and the “Skeeter” I ate from Clyde Wright’s BBQ stand. That’s right, Jaret’s dad is the Boog Powell of Anaheim apparently. A “Skeeter” is a foot long hot dog covered in BBQ pork. Well worth the money might I add. Lastly, the weather was perfect. But isn’t it always in Southern California?
The real highlight in this one was a collision at home plate thanks to another botched Indians defensive play in the fifth. With the Tribe down7-0, Morales laced a double off the wall in right. Torii Hunter came all the way around first and slowed up as he got to third. Shin-Soo Choo missed the cutoff man and Hunter took off for home. The ball rolled to Jack Hannahan, who fired home to nail Hunter, who slid head first and spiked home plate umpire Greg Gibson right in the face. He was briefly knocked out and received a huge gash next to his eye.
Gibson had to leave the game. How is that for excitement at the ballpark? Not that we saw it. They showed ZERO replays of it at Angels Stadium.
I’m getting tired of beating a dead horse, but watching the Indians against a team like the Angels, you just can’t help but be disturbed by the talent disparity. Sure, they have the big payroll, but Albert Pujols didn’t even play in this one. But its not like Trout or Trumbo are making big money. The Tribe just has zero margin for error if they are going to win these games and when they pitch and play defense like they did last night, they aren’t going to beat anyone.
I know Shin-Soo Choo hit a three-run homer in the eighth, but he did it down 8-1. This is not an indictment on Choo in anyway, but the Indians starting pitching continues to put them in holes that this offensively challenged team cannot get out of. When you are chasing seven runs in the fourth with this group, the game is all but over.
Frankly, I am beyond the point of frustration. The mental mistakes this team continues to make are mind-boggling. Santana and Hernandez both watching a bunt drop right in front of them without making a play. Santana’s ridiculous decision to thrown the ball down to second in attempts to get the speedy Trout with a man on third. Or how about in the second, trailing 4-0 and the count 1-1, both Hernandez and Santana thought the third pitch of the AB was strike three. BOTH OF THEM!
Are we supposed to be encouraged by Hernandez’s start? Manny Acta sounded like he was after the game.
“I thought it was impressive the way he kept his composure throughout that whole inning and that whole game with the defense we played behind him,” Acta, said. “He’s guy that in the past, in those situations, he’d start flying open, letting it fly, and making it worse. I thought he showed great composure today.”
Sure, he went six innings, but he also allowed 10 hits and eight runs (five earned). He didn’t walk or strike out anyone. In other words, he looked like Fausto Carmona, version 2011. You know, the one with 15 losses and an ERA north of five who is capable of pitching well and capable of getting lit up like a Christmas tree. Sounds a lot like….Ubaldo Jimenez.
“His velocity was where he was in the past, sitting at 91, ball sinking down at the knees, and once in a while he’ll pop a 93,” Acta said. “That’s good enough, especially if you’re throwing strikes. … We didn’t catch the ball for him, didn’t help him at all.”
Manny is right. If the Tribe defense does their job in the second inning, the game would have been different. Then again, I’d be in the NBA if I was 6’9, 260 lbs with my mad skills!
This team is a complete mess. I don’t know what more Acta can do at this point. One thing is for sure, something big must change this offseason. Not only are they staring down the barrel at a disaster on the field, but they are in the middle of a complete P.R. nightmare off the field.
Good times! Hey, at least the Browns play a preaseason game tonight and the Tribe has the night off, right?
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)