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6.11.2013

Morning Rundown: The Coldest Team In Baseball

Nino Colla | Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

Just a few weeks ago, this was the hottest team in baseball. Now they're the coldest. Ice cold.
Photo - Getty Images via Zimbio.com

When it rains....it turns into ice, freezes over, and gets cracked open with a sledgehammer and shattered to pieces.

Okay, that's a little dramatic. But, Terry Francona did call a team meeting after the loss on Sunday and while it wasn't "rah rah let's turn this around" type of stuff, it was probably a necessary thing to do to get the team together and give them a pep talk. Unfortunately, it didn't result in a win.

INDIANS - 3 | RANGERS - 6
W: Robbie Ross (3-1)
L: Scott Kazmir (3-4)
S: Joe Nathan (20)
[BOXSCORE]

Has Scott Kazmir been pitching out of this world? Heck no, but he's been pitching well enough to keep his team in the game. As was the case on Monday when he took a 3-3 tie into the seventh inning. Kazmir, if anything, got stronger as the game went on, despite surrendering a 4th inning home run, Kazmir had retired all but one hitter following the home run he gave up to Jeff Baker.

Then he surrendered a double, then it was time to come out of the game. All in all, Kazmir did what he needed to do.

"I just feel bad we couldn't get [Kazmir] any more runs," Reynolds said. "He deserves a lot better than tonight. He knows we're out there busting our tails for him and we're trying. Hopefully, we can snap out of this."

Kazmir looked especially frustrated with everything and showed it after the game. Not with lack of support or defensive miscues, or the way he pitched, with just everything.

"We're struggling. We are," Kazmir said. "It's just little things that cost us a game. It could be a pitch. It could be defensively, offensively. It just seems like there's something so small that determines the outcome of the game, especially the past couple, or the past three or four. We've been in every game.

While credited (discredited?) with the loss, I can't see a reason he deserves it any more than Nick Hagadone does. I mean shoot, it was Hagadone in the game when the tie game was broken. Hagadone is the loser here.

I feel bad for that. I shouldn't be calling Hags a loser. But man, rock bottom, has he hit it? After that confidence booster the other day when he got out of that big jam, it looked like he was going to get out of the trickiest of situations when he got a good heads up defensive play to help him nab a double play in that seventh.

Then Lance Berkman came up and, so did Hagadone's dinner. And mine. What a disgusting pitch. That's a man that's been to six All-Star games. He's won a World Series and almost a career .300 hitter. And in that situation, you do...that? How do you throw a wild pitch in one moment and than in the next breath, something right down the middle. Is your control that bad?

"The way it unfolded," Francona said, "man, it looked like, 'We're going to get out of this with nothing.'"

Guess again, Tito. Nick Hagadone isn't a loser. I'm sorry for that. But Nick Hagadone is broke and someone needs to fix him, or we need to consider pushing the Indians to simply recycle him.

And now we sit here, eight games into this losing streak and what feels like there is no end in sight to it. But there is, because again, this isn't 2011 or 2012, this is a new team. Does that mean that they're going to break out of it and pull of 20 straight and get into contention?

No, but this mentality will not manifest itself. Is this enjoyable? Is this what a fan wants to see? Is this easy to stomach? Hell no, but we have to trust in the same message that Francona is preaching to his players.

"We're going to find out a lot about ourselves right now," Francona said. "I guess that's part of why I feel OK about this, because I think we have the guys in there that will fight through this and come through it. And it's not easy, and it's not a lot of fun. But I believe in those guys in that room and I believe in us collectively. We'll figure out a way to fight through it."

Sometimes you need to be battered and beaten to learn something and I'm sure that right now, this club is learning a lot about themselves and the game of baseball. Is this all a way of making excuses and delaying the inevitable of a downtrodden season?

Um, not really. I honestly believe in this team and the fact that they're going to turn it around. Maybe I'm a blind fool who's being led off the plank to the shark infested waters beneath me. If that's the case, then, okay cool. But I'm all in on this team. I said it earlier when things are going good. I'm buying in. They're not going to make a run and get to the playoffs in all likelihood, but I don't think that was a realistic thought from the get-go.

I think they can make something of this season though and I believe we're still going to have a fun summer. So I'm just going to sit here and patiently wait for it.

Random Notes...

One way the Indians can start to funk out of it is if Carlos Santana starts to hit again. Santana had a big three-run double that provided all the scoring, and at the time, the lead.

He also had a miscue in that seventh inning when he mishandled a Elvis Andrus hit ball on the infield. The Indians made up for it on the next play though with that DP when Hagadone came in. That was what Francona was talking about earlier when he said he thought they were going to get out of it, until of course, the Hagadone implosion the next hitter.

All-in-all, it was actually a really bad offensive performance, just five hits and two walks, not much action. They got lucky to get Santana to come up with that huge hit in one of their really few scoring chances. If that doesn't happen, they're shutout.

Mark Reynolds with the big mighty three-strikeout game, he too is someone who needs to turn it around. Remember all those multi-run games he had? Well now he's turning them into multi-strikeout games. He doesn't have an RBI in the month of June, but he does have seven of his nine games played with two or more strikeouts. Yeah, that's pretty scary. 3-for-29 this month of June with no RBI. Help!

He also made his seventh error of the season. Definitely not a long term option at third base. We need to get him back over to first and designated hitter. The way Chiz is hitting down in C-Bus, this might be that time, also for an added spark.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Well, a lot sure did happen over the weekend. The big domino that fell in that regard was the sudden injury to starter Zach McAllister that left the Indians in a position to need a starter for their middle game against Detroit. The Indians placed Z-Mac on the disabled list immediately and plan to be without him for two weeks, could be a month due to a finger injury...

A finger injury? Oh please no.

"The timetable is when he feels better," Francona cautioned on Saturday. "Nobody really knows. When it's better, he'll pitch. Obviously, we don't know exactly, neither does he, and neither do the doctors. But when he's good to go, we'll pitch him."

The Indians say that McAllister has been experiencing irritation in the middle finger of his right hand, particularly when he throws his breaking pitch, not the split-finger pitch he's started using. The staff simply wants to stay ahead of the injury and make sure it isn't a bigger deal than it needs to be. Something especially important with this franchise given how costly finger injuries have been to them.

That move forced the Indians to turn to Carlos Carrasco to make that Saturday start. While we won't bother bringing up results from three days ago, Carrasco came up and... well yeah. Carrasco came up and pitched. Now that he got that out of the way, he dropped his appeal and decided to serve the suspension, which was then reduced from eight to seven games. 

Working with the scheduled off day, the Indians can get through this mess with not having to turn their rotation upside down and getting Carrasco back in there and keeping everyone on enough rest and not having to call on a spot-starter. So, mission accomplished. As long as C2 doesn't throw at anyone, of course.

"We can bring him back, and with this off-day we can keep everybody in order," Francona said. "And then we can slot him in where we think it best fits. We'd actually lined it up without the one day [reduction]. So we need to look at that again and see where it helps us the most."

The roster shuffle isn't done. With Asdrubal Cabrera likely out for quite some time, the Indians felt they needed to make a more long-term pick up for their backup shortstop role other than using Juan Diaz. And they did just that by bringing back a familiar face in John McDonald.

Good old Johnny Mac. Never got a fair-shake in Cleveland because of the huge shadow of Omar Vizquel. But in his own right, a good solid defensive shortstop. Can't it a lick, but can flash the glove and is always dependable. He'll come over and just be a solid backup infielder until Cabrera gets back.

As for that, Francona had a bit of an update on his progress.

"He's actually doing a pretty good job," Francona said on Monday. "Today he was sitting in a chair playing catch, trying to keep his arm going. He's been in the [pool], pretty aggressive in the water, and even doing some dry-land semi-squatting. He's doing a pretty good job."

So, he's sitting down. That's kind of amusing. I know he's playing catch while sitting down, but he still can't really move on that strained quad well. So, it'll be awhile.

In other news of the sickly, Josh Tomlin made a rare 2013 appearance with the club and will be with the squad for their series in Texas. Tomlin is close to heading off to Arizona (we can't ever go back to Arizona!) to resume his rehab program. He'll be throwing in front of Callaway and Soloff today during a bullpen session.

"Back in Spring Training, we kind of decided that this would be a good time for him to pop in," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It'll kind of give him a little pick-me-up before he gets back out to Arizona, and it lets him being around the guys a little bit. They love seeing him."

If all goes well, he could be back in the minor leagues rehabbing this season, which will do wonders for him in terms of coming back next year, already having mound work under his belt.

And yuk, but finally, Chris Perez and his wife plead not guilty to the possession charges they were slapped with after there was a package of marijuana delivered to their house. Hey, I'm not going to say anything until proven, but I can't wait to see the defense the Perezes have in explaining themselves. 

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