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AZL Indians flat in 6-1 loss

June 29, 2013
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SURPRISE – The AZL Indians treated all who attended their game Friday night in Surprise, Arizona to nine innings of relatively boring baseball. It might have been the 110° desert heat, or possibly that they didn’t have enough gas left in the tank after their 12-11 victory over the AZL Padres on Thursday, but whatever it was, the Indians could not muster up any offense in a 6-1 loss to the Rangers.

The past three games, there seems to be one inning where the Indians pitching staff completely implodes. Friday night’s game was the third straight game where the Indians pitching staff has had an inning where they have allowed at least four runs.

The second inning was that “implode” inning where the Indians starting pitcher Juan Santana fell apart. Besides allowing a triple, things went fine in the bottom of the first inning. Santana had a less than desirable start to the second, where he allowed the first five batters to reach base.

After hitting Rangers catcher Chuck Moorman, the next three batters each singled, two of which came around to score. Diego Cedeno then tripled to center to clear the bases. Juan Santana then struck out Rangers hitters Luis Mendez and Todd McDonald, and it looked like that Santana would get out of the inning only giving up four runs. He gave up a two-run home run to the very next batter, Rangers shortstop Travis Demeritte. The next two batters singled and Santana left the game leaving runners on the corners.

Naoki Hashimoto came on to clean up the mess that Santana left. After throwing a wild pitch that allowed a runner to reach second base, and give the Rangers two runners in scoring position with two outs, he got Smerling Lantigua to ground out to him to end the inning.

Whenever the Tribe pitchers have these “implode” innings, it seems that they give up hits in bunches. That was especially true on the night. Another fact is that Santana gave up three hits with two outs. Giving up hits in bunches and allowing the opposition to reach base when there are two outs can be a major thorn in the side of the pitcher and team. It is also bad because it can derail a team’s ability to gain any momentum.

Offensively, the Indians certainly had chances to try and cut down the Rangers lead. Not capitalizing on opportunities will almost always be rally killers, and again, derail a team’s chance to get into a groove and string together a series of hits that can get the team back into the game. Two stats from this game that will certainly anger Tribe manager Anthony Medrano:  1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and 14 runners left on base.

Rangers fielders made four errors in the game, but the Indians were only able to turn one of those errors into a run. Their only run of the game was scored in the third inning when Francisco Mejia scored from third on Rangers shortstop Travis Demeritte‘s fielding error.

The fifth inning was probably the best chance for the Tribe to get some runs and try to catch up to the Rangers. After Francisco Mejia grounded out to start the inning, Clint Frazier was plunked by a pitch. The next batter, Yonathan Mendoza, got his second single of the night, which advanced Frazier to second. Victor Cabral then drove a pitch into right field to load the bases. That was all the offense that the Indians would get that inning, as Shane Rowland struck out and Grant Fink popped out to third to end the rally.

The only other point in the game where the Indians had an opportunity like this, was in the eighth, where the Indians had runners at the corners with two outs. It was more of the same, as the Indians couldn’t find a way to get runners home.

The AZL Indians are off and host the AZL Cubs at Goodyear Ballpark on the Sunday. First pitch is at 7:00 PM MST.

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