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4.19.2013

Morning Rundown: Notice - Indians Will Pay for Two-Out RBI Hit

Nino Colla | Friday, April 19, 2013 | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

Jimmy Haslam's company is in trouble, so the Browns are obviously effected. Not to mention, their 2013 schedule is out and the draft is approaching. Byron Scott got fired and the Cavaliers are going to be looking for a new coach as their season ended.

And yet here we are. I want to talk about the Indians? But they got swept by Boston, they suck. Their pitching is garbage and the money they spent on the new offensive talent is just not working. People are hurt, some guys are off to painfully slow starts, and blah bah blah blah.

Why would we possibly want to talk about this last place baseball team right now? We could talk about a franchise in trouble and who they'll be playing five months from now and one that just came off a horrible season and will be looking for a new coach.

Why should we talk about this team!?

If you didn't get the point of that, you never will.

Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports
RED SOX - 6 | INDIANS - 3
W: Jon Lester (3-0)
L: Zach McAllister (1-2)
S: Andrew Bailey (2)
[BOXSCORE]

Indians manager Terry Francona got to see a lot of old friends, but as he said, he didn't enjoy the series much. And how could he? His new team got roughed up a little. Not that all the games were just drubbings, but rather a little emotionally draining. Boston just seemed to have better everything, from pitching to hitting to defense.

Make no mistake about this. They have a good club this year. They've seemed to iron out all the issues that plagued them in the short Bobby Valentine Era, they've got a good manager, and their pitching is coming around.

As Francona would go on to say after Thursday. They pretty much did what they wanted to Cleveland in the series. That will happen to any team throughout the course of a season. You run into a team that is just playing really good ball or is just better than you in that given period.

Boston was just better. Three solid pitching performances, some offense that executed early. In fact, they executed early in ever single game. Of the 19 runs the Red Sox scored, 11 of them came in the first two innings of the games. That's just establishing a mood early, taking the fans out, settling your pitcher in with a lead and some confidence to execute their game plan. Simple stuff.

And look, this is all really early. Two weeks worth of games in already. This was a tough slate to open up the season playing just about every AL East team, a division that is expected and looks to be loaded from top to bottom. This isn't the AL Central, this is a division that sent two teams to the playoffs last year and coulda sent one more and could do the same this year.

To make it through this beginning stretch with some victories is a good thing. Of course they only got three of them, but the important thing is, a hard part of the schedule is out of the way.

In this game, like the others, seemed like getting a big hit was the thing holding the team back.

"It was a tough one," Indians designated hitter Mark Reynolds said. "We just couldn't get the big hits when we needed them. We had guys on base all series -- we just couldn't come through. It's a little frustrating, but at the same time, we've got a long road trip ahead of us and we'll go out and try to win some games."

The Indians were 2-19 this series with runners in scoring position. Yup, that's not going to win a lot of games, end of story. They also left 11 runners in scoring position with two outs. That was the biggest issue we've had in this one and Francona even said it mainly concerning the game on Thursday too. The Indians just could not get that big two out hit that they needed to win a game. When you can't get that big hit, things just seem to not go right.

Which sucked for Zach McAllister, because he did what you want any pitcher to do when they are laboring, which McAllister was, get through a good chunk of innings and keep your team in the game. I think that was worthy of anything other than a loss, but the offense couldn't get him anything. McAllister, admittedly, threw a lot of pitches, but still found way to wiggle through innings, get five out of the way and strike out seven.

He had some walks, gave up some hits, but when you only get tagged with three runs, have your team fighting to win, you put in a valiant effort.

Random Notes...

The Sox swiped three bags last night.

It is worth noting that the Indians have four stolen bases this year, which puts them towards the bottom in the American League. Opposite of what is expected from them, but hey, Bourn is out, it's a slow start. Stubbs half the steals. Francona was also sound to point out that teams respect the speed a team has if they have it, and that has resulted in better pitches to hit for the hitters.

Speaking of speed, Mark Reynolds would have definitely been thrown out at second if a fan did not touch that ball he hit in the second. Thanks fan.

Mike Aviles had five RBI as a semi-part-time player. More than the likes of Asdrubal, Stubbs, and Brantley, one less than Santana and Swisher. Just a note.

Cord Phelps is just rough. I mean, he as some tools, he seems okay, does well in Columbus. But every stinkin' time the guy comes up to the major leagues he seems to just have issues. He committed an error at second and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Rough rough rough, bark bark bark.

Not cool for Bryan Shaw on the part of Phelps as that error led to him giving up a pair of runs, all unearned. Shaw is a strikeout machine though, leads all the relievers in that category (of course also most innings pitched), but he is a nice piece in there. He had two more punch-outs on Thursday and just seems to be yet another weapon for the Indians in that bullpen. Needs a mafia name though.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

That Guy! Jason Giambi is That Guy! I love this quote.

"They would always say, 'Hey, enjoy it. It's going to go by fast,'" Giambi said on Thursday. "I'm like, 'Ah, what do those guys know?' And here I am. I'm that guy."

Giambi also said the he doesn't think of himself as being old, even though he knows he is. This of course off the heels of him becoming the third oldest player to hit a home run in an Indians uniform, behind Sam Rice and Dave Winfield. Giambi said he is pleased at where his swing is at and he feels really confident after hitting his first homer.

One thing that will really benefit him as opposed to when he was in Colorado is actually getting three at-bats in a single game rather than just one or two every week or so. He'll pinch hit, but he will get three chances in a game, not just in a week. So that should help him keep in some sort of normalcy, even though we know he's used to the pinch hitting role. The homers should fly a little more with more rhythm, but hey, I think we'll take any hit or walk from him that he can get.

No Lonnie Baseball on Thursday as the Indians were keeping him out against Lester, getting Aviles' bat in there against the lefty. But the Indians are working on fixing an issue with Lonnie Chisenhall.

"All spring he was thinking left-center," Francona explained. "Not necessarily wanting to hit the ball there, but being lined up so he could cover the plate. And he did it extremely well. I think as he continued into the season, his batting stance started to close off more and more and more, and I don't think he realized it. Ty's trying to get him back more to even. Now, setting his sights on left-center is great. I just think it all of a sudden became a little more physical also, and he got himself into a position where, for him to get to the ball and square it up, he had to get more out front than he normally does."

Francona also mentioned that he has hampered the quick bat he has and correctly points out that Chiz's bat is as quick as anyone's. The swing is really sweet and smooth and while I haven't paid close attention to him and his at-bats in this series, it would explain some of his performances. He has such a quick smooth stroke and if he isn't right, that is a problem.

Tito also explained his reasoning for sitting and playing against certain lefties, simply guessing that maybe he'd run into one of Price's fastball. Correctly guessed. Being a manager is all about pushing the right buttons. Right button pressed there.

To continue talking about approaches and swings, Tito loves what Carlos Santana is doing, and things don't seem to be really different since Santana returned to the lineup after his little injury scare. Boston employed a shift on Wednesday in the sixth inning and Santana tried to take the ball the other way to beat the shift with what ended up as a check swing. 

"The idea is good," Francona said of trying to beat the shift. "When you're down, when you can't tie the game with one swing, getting on base is the most important thing. I've talked to [Giambi] about that a lot. He told me, 'Yeah, I've bunted before. I'm not too proud.' When you can't tie it up, I love it."

In that situation, Santana was leading off the inning and really, down 5-0, you gotta just get on at that point. And he did with a walk later on, Swisher hits a blast, turned out to help. But I've seen David Ortiz do it. If you think you can pull it off, why not? If you are down a substantial amount of runs and hitting a home run doesn't really cure it all, why not? Great approach, great idea, and it just is another thing to highlight about Santana and the start he is off to. 

He seems to really be getting it. His approach at the plate is good, he is swinging the bat well and more importantly, garnering the walks still. His average has left a lot to be desired the past few years. Sure he gets on and creates runs, but we all though the was a better hitter than he was showing us to be. And he seems to be coming into that and filling in the mold we had all made for him.

So that's a great thing.

Lou Marson just can't catch a break. The Clippers and Mudcats played til the end of the fourth inning on Thursday and Marson got just two at-bats (struck out twice) in the suspended game. They'll finish today, but likely without Marson.

What's more interesting from that game? The fact that they only completed four innings and Daisuke Matsuzaka walked eight people. Yes, EIGHT people in four innings, that's two per inning. Dice-K is not off to a great start with the Clips. The scary part is that the eight walks doubles his current total for the season in just two games. So 11 innings, 16 walks. And you thought Ubaldo was bad.

It's on to Houston now. This is a serious you probably should win, so hopefully the funk ends here. As tought as the schedule has been, it now looks a little nicer with Houston. Brett Myers gets to face his old team.

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