Here's an observation for you. The Royals needed one thing last year. Pitching. If they had it, there's no telling what the AL Central might have looked like.
What's the one thing they have this year?Pitching. Like, loads of it. So where is the offense?
Their offense wasn't one of the best, but it was young and figured to be trending upwards towards being really darn good. Yeahhh about that. It's still kind of in the middle, not quite what it was last year. So essentially, this is a balanced out Kansas City Royals team. But really, they are at the same level they were last year in terms of production. It's just where that production comes from.
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ROYALS - 3 | INDIANS - 4
W: Cody Allen (2-0)
L: Kelvin Herrera (3-5)
S: Vinnie Pestano (2)
The Indians have the upper-hand in their match-ups against the likes of Washington and Kansas City. Two pitching heavy teams that don't really sport high-powered scoring offenses. Even without a Swisher or a Cabrera, the Indians offense can score. You put that out with a somewhat improved rotation that can hold these mediocre offenses at bay, more times than not you are going to win.
So Monday nights garbage? Yeah, that was overturned on Tuesday with the way the Indians came together late. They faced a tough starter in Ervin Santana, but once they got into the bullpen, they made their presence felt. They couldn't quite get it on Monday, but on Tuesday, the offense prevails as it will most of the time. They got their timely hits and produced like they are capable of.
They even overcame what I thought would be the only insurance run the Royals would need when Cody Allen's errant throw let Eric Hosmer not only reach base, but advance to third with no outs. The score would turn 3-1 and the Indians hill to climb got a little more steep.
That didn't stop them though. An eighth inning rally off two Royals pitchers later and Vinnie Pestano was out for the save.
The rally started with Raburn walking and after Stubbs grounded out, the Indians pulled off three straight hits to set the stage for Brantley's go-ahead sac-fly to knock in Aviles. Bourn singled home Raburn, Aviles singled after and Kipnis doubled home Bourn. The Royals decided to face Brantley with one out than Santana, so they intentionally walked Carlos.
Fine with me.
What shows you that good offense prevails a little more is what Bourn said after the game, and he is right. The Royals pen did not throw bad pitches at all.
Bullpen dudes, I like it. The funny thing about the ball Kipnis hit? It was the same pitch that he took for a strike in two instances earlier in the game. Monday he was a little bit of a goat, right? Well Tuesday he was the hero with his big double that tied the game. And he did it by adjusting and hitting a pitch he was taking for a strike, even though it wasn't a strike. That's a good piece of hitting right there and that's why he's in the three hole right now.
The drama wasn't over though with Pestano in the ninth. Vinnie let up two singles to lead off the inning in Indians closer fashion. After getting Getz to strike out, he faced Alcides Escobar with one out. Escobar's single to right prompted David Lough (of Green, Ohio fame) to venture a little too far off third when he was rounding it. Stubbs got the ball in to Santana, who threw to McDonald, who threw it to Pestano.
Moustakas was out, but that's only because he went over to third and Lough got back, so one of them had to be out. He was just doing the smart thing by making sure someone was on third. It was all on Lough's baserunning error.
Which I think, after Monday's game, the Indians will gladly take and walk away with the win. No shame in that.
Ubaldo Jimenez wasn't brilliant or great, but he was good enough to keep his team in it, which is all you can ask when he's at 114 pitches through six innings and up against Ervin Santana. See, there are nights when Ubaldo would do that and it would get out of control and he'd be giving up fifty runs. It is a night like this that makes you think he's turned a corner. Did he have his best stuff? No, but he battled and even though he wasn't feeling it, he got you through most of the game and kept you in it. He walked four but limited his walks. And if he hadn't thrown two wild pitches in the third inning after walking the first two hitters, it might have been a different story.
As long as he can keep that confidence that he can still stay afloat even when he isn't at his best, then that's a positive movement forward. That's all you can ask for. His 5.2 inning of two run ball looks just the same in the box score as it would had he gone that deep and given up two runs on a night where he didn't walk four guys and threw two wild pitches.
Aside from that eighth inning, the Indians couldn't muster much. Santana gave up a run off three hits and a pair of walks, but the other half of the Indians hits came in that eighth frame, so Santana did a really great job all night.
Credit Drew Stubbs with that run off Santana as he created it by singling and stealing second. He scored on a two-out Mike Aviles single to at least put the team on the board and within one.
It could mean bad news for Nick Swisher's injured shoulder, but the Indians couldn't wait any longer. Two starts by John McDonald was plenty for the Indians to watch before they said uncle.
Or rather, Mr. Lonnie. The Chiz is back. Lonnie Chisenhall was recalled from Columbus on Tuesday, a move made to give them some sort of offensive threat at third base while Swish is out and Reynolds is at first. And even if Swish can come back this weekend, Chisenhall started this year at third base. He needs to be the Indians third baseman if he's capable of it. Francona is hoping for an offensive spark.
The struggling offense is why Chisenhall was sent down, or else he wouldn't have been sent down. Some thing the prolonged slump was effecting his defense though. That may not be the case, because Chisenhall went down and hit the cover off the ball. He belted six homers and eight doubles in 27 games. He was slugging .676 and was on-base at nearly a coin-flip.
And he committed eight errors, double the amount he had in Cleveland in just one more game. Yeeeee-ikes.
Regardless, Chiz is excited to be back. He said he has his confidence back offensively from going down and swinging the bat well. And I think the Indians are glad to have him back because they truly want him to be the guy at third.
He went 0-for-3 last night with a strikeout. But, it's one game. Let him settle in.
There will be more shock and outrage when you see this. Chris Perez made a rehab outing appearance for the Akron Aeros last night and it was just short of a complete disaster. The reason why it wasn't a complete disaster is because as far as we know, he didn't re-injure himself.
Perez was bombed for three home runs after he struck out the leadoff hitter. He hit a batter, gave up a double, he was awful. But you know what? He threw 23 pitches. Only six didn't go for strikes. So I'm thinking it was purposeful. I'm thinking he was trying to establish his fastball by throwing it for strikes, even if it was right down the middle. Perez didn't seem pleased after the outing though and said it was his command, as told to ABJ's Ryan Lewis.
So, there's that. We'll find out more today about what the Indians are going to do with him. At least we should. Perez gave up all five of the Aeros runs (took the loss), but as Lewis noted, Perez wasn't looking for results. He's really looking to knock off the rust.
Blake Wood actually made the start in his continued rehab process. He struck out three of the four hitters he faced. Huzzah.
A little more shakiness last night, but that doesn't seem to be deterring Terry Francona from defending his catcher, Carlos Santana.
Francona said that the ball that went through his legs, which was ruled a wild pitch, on Monday might have taken an awkward hop and that Santana felt bad about it.
He's athletic, and sometimes though, that gets him in trouble. He gets a little lazy because he can make up for a lot of things with his athleticism. Unfortunately he is taking away from the fact that he can be a good catcher. He serves the Indians best as their catcher because of his offensive production. He'd be better suited DHing and playing a little first base because of all this, but getting the production from him at catcher than first base is better for this team.