Second Thoughts Game #101: Indians 10, Mariners 1
The Indians needed to win this game. They’ve started off the second half in disappointing fashion, losing four of their first five games. Worse yet, all of the losses were by one run and were more than winnable games. The team is lucky to only have fallen back one game on the Tigers, but they missed a good opportunity to gain some ground. They need to salvage this game and get back to their winning ways.
The Whole Nine
1. What a great time for Scott Kazmir’s best start of the season. Not just his best start of the season, but one of the best of his entire career. The Indians offense came to play in this game, but even if they didn’t, Kazmir went out there and gave his team the start they needed to win this game. He’s undoubtedly gotten stronger as the year has progressed and has only given up seven earned runs in his last seven starts. He’s been the best starter on the team in that stretch.
2. Kazmir’s recent performance brings to the forefront a question that’s been tossed around on the site for a little while now, whether or not the Indians should explore an extension for Kazmir. My original thought was something along the lines of 2 years, 14 million dollars. Kazmir’s dominance of late might have priced him out of that range. Regardless, I hope the Indians are exploring an extension for him before it’s too late. He’s left-handed, still just 29 years old, and really good. If he wasn’t one year removed from a 5.34 ERA for the Sugar Land Skeeters he’d be the type of pitcher the Indians couldn’t dream of signing in free agency.
3. Another storyline in all of this is the rise of the Indians rotation as a whole. The steps forward that Corey Kluberand Scott Kazmir have made this season, especially lately, give the team three starting pitchers that they can count on to keep them in games nearly every time out. Kazmir still has to pitch deeper in games and Kluber hasn’t even proved himself over a full season, but right now it’s working. Even if the team falls short of its playoff goals, if they can hold on to Kazmir they’ll have filled two spots in the rotation moving forward with guys who seemed like longshots when the season began.
4. It’s been a tough road trip for the Indians in the field and at the plate. While the defense wasn’t good again in this game (errors by Asdrubal Cabrera and Mark Reynolds), the offense had a great game. Every Indian other thanJason Kipnis had a hit and Michael Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and Yan Gomes had multi-hit games.
5. The biggest takeaway of the Indians offensive performance was Michael Bourn’s game. His grand slam was his first home run since April 14th. If that wasn’t enough, he took only his second walk of the month and went 2-for-4 in the game with two runs scored. As the team’s leadoff hitter the walks have been a concern of mine the last few months. He’s simply not been on-base enough this year, which is one of the reasons his stolen base numbers are way down as well.
6. The other encouraging thing offensively was the performance of Asdrubal Cabrera. Recently moved into the number four hole in the lineup, there’s a lot of pressure on Cabrera to have a better second half. So far, he has a .179 batting average in the month of July but this game marks his second consecutive multi-hit game. As I’ve written previously, Cabrera, Bourn, and Swisher are the keys to this lineup in the second half. We saw what happened in this game when Cabrera and Bourn are at their best.
7. Yan Gomes entered Tuesday’s game in a 1-for-16 slide. Since then he’s bounced back with two multi-hit games back-to-back. With Mark Reynolds struggles and Jason Giambi’s limitations, playing Gomes more at DH or catcher should be a no-brainer. Prior to Tuesday he had played in only three of the last ten games, which just isn’t enough.
8. I had really hoped we had seen the last of Mark Reynolds playing third base. Reynolds doesn’t have an extra-base hit since June 28th and when he does play in the field, it absolutely should not be at third base.
9. 13 of the Indians last 19 series are against teams that are currently below .500. With how soft the September schedule is, a good month of August would set the team up nicely for its stretch run.
The Indians were able to salvage the last game of the series against Seattle and now move back home to face the Texas Rangers. After the series with Texas the team will have six straight games coming up against bad teams before the first of their last two series against Detroit. This is a big stretch coming up for the team so let’s hope they have the sloppy defense and inconsistent offense behind them. The first game of the series against Texas is Friday with Corey Kluber facing off against Martin Perez.
The guy we need to sign to a long term deal is Mickey Callaway. Who would have thought Ubaldo would finally turn into a decent MOR starter? Masterson made the All-Star team. Kluber has surprised everyone and emerged as a very good starter and a guy who consistently wins after Tribe losses. McAllister has been solid until he got hurt. And now Kazmir is on a roll.
If there was an award for Pitching Coach of the Year, Callaway would win hands down.
Now he needs to concentrate on the bullpen.
I would definitely look at locking up Kazmir now: Perhaps 2 years at $10-11M per, with an option for a third year at $12-13M?