The Indians may have turned a corner with their play in a home sweep of the Detroit Tigers. They followed that up with a split of the series in Baltimore, which you will take all day. Next up was the Chicago White Sox, who the Tribe has already seen several times this year. Though they have played some of their better baseball of late, one thing has not changed; their horrific defense.
No matter the day you can count one three things in life right now: Death, Taxes, and bad Tribe defense costing them at least one run. They have lost three of their last four after the 6-2 Memorial Day defeat on the South Side of Chicago. In those three losses, three errors (one in each game), directly accounted for six unearned runs. This isn’t a recent trend either, it is a season long reality. The Indians are the worst defensive team in the league. There are no two ways around it.
Monday afternoon was just another prime example. With a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third, Josh Tomlin was sailing along. With two out, Lonnie Chisenhall made yet another error at third, his eighth of the season. Connor Gillaspie’s single spawned the biggest hit of the day, a three-run homer off of the bat of Dayan Viciedo. If Lonnie makes the routine play, the Indians are out of the inning. Instead, they had to play from behind against another left-handed starter, Jose Quintana, who has had great success against the Tribe in his career.
“Sometimes the ball, you know, you get on your heels and the second hop plays you a little bit instead of putting yourself in a position where you come get it,” said manager Terry Francona, always the defender of his players. As good as Chisenhall as been at the plate this season, his defense has regressed. He’s made three errors in his last three games.
“Lonnie’s our hardest worker, so we keep working. When you make an error, you can’t go back and take it away. And we have guys that I think have the ability to be good fielders, so we just keep working,” said Francona.
Despite the fact that the Sox were handed that lead, the Indians continued to battle back. As usual Michael Brantley was in the middle of a scoring situation by drawing a sixth inning lead off walk and a steal of second. Ryan Raburn’s RBI single inched the Tribe closer at 3-2. He tried to stretch the single to a double and was thrown out at second. The replays showed he was safe as Alexei Ramirez never applied the tag, but the review came back inconclusive.
“Yeah, he didn’t touch me up top, and I still think I got my hand in,” Raburn said. “Basically, my leg slid into him, but it’s probably one of those calls where they weren’t sure, and tough to overturn.”
Tomlin came out for the sixth and lost his way. Gillaspie and Viciedo wore him out again with a double and a single respectively. With the lefty Adam Dunn coming up, Francona called on lefty Josh Outman, who struck out Dunn for a big first out. Even though it was the sixth inning, Francona came back out and went to his best set up man, Bryan Shaw. Ramirez, who has already killed the Indians this season, singled in Gillaspie, which was followed by another RBI single from Alejandro De Aza. The one run lead ballooned to three.
The Sox added an insurance run in the seventh when that man again, Gillaspie drove in Marcus Semien with a double.
One last chance to get back in the game came in the eighth against Sox righty and former Tribe farmhand Zach Putnam. Back to back singles by Mike Aviles and Michael Brantley and a two out infield hit from Raburn brought the tying run to the plate in the form of pinch hitter David Murphy. Sox skipper Robin Ventura called for lefty Scott Downs, who neutralized “The Good Guy” with a strikeout. That was all for the Tribe in this one.
Meanwhile, the Indians continue to drop like flies. Jason Kipnis should be back on Tuesday once activated off of the DL. However, Nick Swisher’s bad knees have popped up and caused him to miss two games and be replaced with a pinch hitter on Monday. Carlos Santana was a late scratch Monday afternoon after feeling ill. He was drilled in the mask by a foul ball on Sunday in Baltimore. He may have a concussion. Where this leaves the roster is anybody’s guess.
Worst of all, lefty Chris Sale (4-0, 1.89 ERA) is next on the Tribe’s docket. We will see if Justin Masterson (2-3, 5.32 ERA) is up to the task in matching the Sox ace. He is long overdue for a dominant start, but does Masterson have it in him with his diminished velocity?