-

6.24.2013

Morning Rundown: Tribe Win Another Series, But Drop Finale to Twins

Nino Colla | Monday, June 24, 2013 | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

You know starting pitchers are funny funny beings. Following them is very much a fluid situation, especially with the Indians and the way this year's rotation has gone.

This weekend we saw Scott Kazmir go out and pitch well against Minnesota. There were some doubts creeping in about Kazmir and if he was really going to be able to get the job done consistently as a member of the rotation.

Yesterday, Cookie Carrasco went out to face the Twins coming off an excellent start against the Royals. His outing made you think that he was getting it and that he could really slot in and be an impact piece.

Oh how things change from start to start, in either case. I guess if the Indians can get 90 manageable starts from their starters, they'll be in good shape. It doesn't matter how they get them or who they get them from.

TWINS - 5 | INDIANS - 3
W: Pedro Hernandez (3-1)
L: Carlos Carrasco (0-3)
S: Glen Perkins (19)
[BOXSCORE]

That isn't to say Carlos Carrasco was awful and needs removed from the rotation after his start against the Twins, but the ups and downs are certainly going to be interesting to live with. I think this is who he is. He's got incredible talent, someone who can throw a 95 fastball and then snap back an 80 mph changeup for a strike, but also someone who has issues coming up with that third strike.

Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports
That seemed like the theme of the game for both pitchers, because even the Twins hurler Pedro Hernandez could not put hitters away and that is what kept the Indians in the game and gave them their opportunities to score.

Better than not having opportunities to score, right?

"We lost a tough game today," Indians manager Terry Francona said Sunday. "But if we play like this, we're going to be OK. I'll take our chances. You're disappointed, because you wanted to show up today and win, but I like the way we're playing."

As Jason Kipnis would note, they had their chances but no big hits. They were always catching up after the fifth when things unwound. Stubbs hit a home run that gave you some hope, they had some big hits that put the Indians in position to get it, but again, no big hits.

Even from the beginning when Bourn was picked off, the opportunities were stymied. In the second the sac-fly by Gomes with the bases loaded was simply not enough. With no outs and that situation, you need to come away with more than just one run. The Tribe let Hernandez off easy there.

Other than the 5th and 6th, the Indians had a baserunner on in every inning. They also had a runner on second in five out of the nine innings. Other than that second inning, the other inning where the Indians really shot themselves in the food was the ninth really. If Aviles does not ground into a double play after Bourn singles, Jason Kipnis' double means a lot more. 

But you can't talk about the "ifs" or "buts" really. The team was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. That tells you all you need to know about the lack of big hit. You can't win games like that. 

Let's go back to Car-Squared and his outing. He was one out away from getting out of the fifth. Had he done that he pitches five innings of one run ball and he leaves with a lead. Instead he exited having surrendered it and looking a little bad. But it really was a "fighting" effort in this one as Francona mentioned.

"The fact that he limited damage and he pitched," Francona said. "We all recognize his stuff. [They were] squaring it up a little bit, and he still found a way. He continued to fight. We left him in in the fifth because we thought he deserved the chance to get out of that inning. They ended up getting the hit, but he's making progress."

I mean he was making progress the last time out. This was a little bit of a set-back, but what I will now be interested to see is how he bounces back. Again, his stuff is incredible. The way he was throwing pitches at times made him look unhittable. Especially if he ran out sequences that he was running out there at times. 

But again, the struggle with strike three came into play. He had six full-counts and of course he walked four hitters. So that's why the pitch count built up and why the Twins were able to keep innings going, even though if they didn't score a lot of runs.

You have to back to what Francona said though overall. If you play the way the Indians did, only better, you have to at least like your chances. It is better than no opportunities. It is better than bad pitching and being out of it with no hope for any sort of offensive production.

And this was a chance to sweep. Which would have been nice ending the homestand and over a divisional foe, but they still won the series and they've won their fourth straight series to boot. Now starts a big road trip to end the month because the Indians are about to play eight games in this seven day week. Buckle in.

Random Notes...

Yesterday's biggest perpetrator was was Nick Swisher, who made his return to the lineup with a big fat 0-for-5 outing. Has to kind of be expected after a week off from live game action. 

Mike Aviles's DP was also pretty killing and he did go 0-for-4. 

The two biggest contributors are the red hot tandem of Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis, each with three hits and plenty of opportunities given to the rest of the club. Bourn had an incredible series with eight hits, but just two runs scored. He did knock in three though on Saturday which was huge. He has a seven game hitting streak going now.

Kipnis had seven hits in the three games and knocked in six runs but scored just once. He is carrying a five game streak, but even more impressively has a hit in 15 of his last 16 games and has reached base in 25 straight games. These guys are on fire right now and really pushing this lineup.

Mark Reynolds is at least conscious. Two walks in this one, a walk on Saturday and two hits on Friday. Talk about pushing a lineup, the Indians need him to at least get it together. Just a single homer in June?

I was going to ask, but then I looked and realized it wasn't me just imagining things. The Indians threw four wild pitches in this one. The amount of wild pitches and passed balls with this team this year is incredibly annoying. 

And sure enough, the Indians lead the entire major leagues in wild pitches with 44. Next closest is 37. Passed balls is a little less (just five), but to me, that is just unacceptable. Each pitcher minus Matt Albers was responsible for one. 

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Whatever issues that are going on with this bullpen may soon see some reinforcements. Right now, it just feels all out of whack. Even with Pestano's successful save on Saturday, he labored and it honestly, jut does not feel normal. 

Which is why Chris Perez needs to be reinserted in a bad way. Perez will make one more rehab appearance, hopefully, this week and could be ready by the weekend. Perez tossed a bullpen session in Cleveland and a simulated game this weekend and it went really well according to Tito.

The Indians need him there closing it out, handling the ninth inning. It will put everyone else back where they're used to and re-align what has become a really scattered and inconsistent bullpen.

In addition to Perez, when the Indians get Brett Myers back, they'll be putting him in the bullpen, a choice I think that makes the most sense given the way the rotation looks right now. It sucks you will be paying a middle reliever $7 million dollars this year, but it isn't permanent.

"[Myers] is going to prepare in a bullpen role," Francona said. "I think we all felt with the down time he's had, his best way to contribute is probably to go to the bullpen. To try to get him ramped up to 100 pitches, if there's any hiccup at all in that process, we'd probably lose him for the rest of the year."

Myers has had setbacks the last few times he went out to rehab, but that hopefully changes tonight when Myers throws an inning for Mahoning Valley. If the relief role is what we're shooting for, then it won't be long before he is ready. A few appearances to knock off the rust, prove he's healthy, and get his command right should all that is needed provided he doesn't suffer yet another setback.

The other injured Indian we're waiting patiently to return is Asdrubal Cabrera and that return is close. How close? How about, this week close? 

"Asdrubal is doing terrific," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's going to do all baseball activities, and he's going to go with us to Baltimore. The anticipation is actually, when we get through that Baltimore series, he might be pretty darned close to being cleared to play."

Cabrera wants to jump right in and skip rehab outings, which would obviously make his return come a lot sooner than normal. The Indians are currently deciding on if they want him to do it or not and he will if he has to be, the preference is to jump right back in.

And shoot, he could. He may not play two days in a row at first, but with Mike Aviles, you can do that no problem. If anything, it would be nice to get Aviles a breather since he's played in every game since Cabrera's injury.

Either way, he'll be with the team in Baltimore, which means something big. Why would he travel if he's just going to go back to Ohio to be sent on a rehab assignment? I wouldn't be shocked to see him back in the lineup by the time the Indians make it to Chicago.

Finally, congratulations to both Carlos Baerga and John Hart for being inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. They're just two of the latest 90's heroes to be inducted and probably not the last. Hart helped keep the squad that gave us many memories together and Baerga was a big part of the early surge. 

Obviously Baerga is still a big part of what the Indians are doing, an active participant in their spring as a coach and someone who always comes back to the city to contribute and be with the team. Hart has been a little less active, but he has his TV job to worry about and is a letter less of a "known face" given the fact that he was a General Manager and behind the scenes.

Both take rightful spot in the Indians Hall of Fame though, congratulations once again to those two.

0 comments: