Second Thoughts Game #106: Mariners 5, Indians 2
The Cleveland Indians lost to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night by a score of 5-2. The offense continued its inconsistent ways and Trevor Bauer lost his string of four consecutive quality starts and gave up more earned runs (five) than he had in any start in his reassuring 2014 campaign. This game seemed out of reach given the 5-0 lead compiled by the Mariners, but it was similarly played in all but one respect when viewed as follows:
- The Tribe offense struggled to put anything together as they only had multiple baserunners in two innings.
- The Mariners had multiple base-runners in three innings.
- The Indians drew only one walk and had no stolen bases or sacrifice bunts.
- The Marines drew only one walk and no stolen bases or sacrifice bunts.
- The Indians pitching staff struck out nine batters and the bullpen yielded no runs on three hits.
- The Mariners pitching staff struck out ten batters and the bullpen yielded no runs on two hits.
- The Indians pulled together eight hits with only three going for extra bases, all of which were doubles.
- The Mariners had 11 hits with seven going for extra bases, five of which were double, a triple and a home run.
This last portion is obviously the deciding factor in the game: as the clustering of hits was similar, as was the number of balls put in play by opposing offenses. The Mariners simply hit the ball harder and thus didn’t need to rely on the luck (yes, it’s luck) of stringing multiple hits and walks together. Games like this are hard to watch because the feeling is always there that just “one more hit” would break things open and make things square.
Trevor Bauer was hit hard, no doubt, but he threw strikes and that is the biggest key for the Indians going forward. In all likelihood, the Indians will need another 10-game winning streak (a la 2013) to make the playoffs this season. Even then, it is a long shot as more teams are in the running. However, as was the case in 2013, there are several teams that have separated themselves from the pack in terms of run-differential and they are all finding themselves moving to the top of the heap.
As of July 30th in 2013 and 2014:
|2013 Team||Record||WC GB||Differential||2014 Team||Record||WC GB||Differential|
|BOS||64 – 44||-||96||LAA||63 – 42||-||90|
|BAL||59 – 48||-||31||TOR||58 – 50||-||38|
|CLE||58 – 48||0.5||50||SEA||55 – 51||2||54|
|TEX||58 – 49||1||12||NYY||55 – 51||2||-29|
|NYY||55 – 51||3.5||-9||KC||53 – 52||3.5||-2|
|KC||52 – 51||5||4||TB||53 – 54||4.5||1|
|CLE||52 – 54||5||3|
We can see that LAA, TOR and SEA are all much better in terms of scoring and preventing runs than the other four teams chasing them. This is hugely significant, as the differential is a great indicator for expected performance.
If we were to have sorted the AL by run-differential at this point last season, it would have looked like this:
|Team||Differential on 7/30/13||Final Standing Division/AL|
Clearly, this is some noise, but the basic summary is that teams with good run differentials by July 30th were destined for the postseason, while those who merely had good records (due in part to good-luck) and were “in the hunt” couldn’t hang on.
Unfortunately, Cleveland is one of those teams that just doesn’t have the profile to really make the case that things will start breaking their way any game now. The Indians are, in all likelihood, a .500 team in reality and in our excel sheets. Proper maximization of current assets (e.g. Masterson and Cabrera) along with development and exploration of future assets (e.g. Jose Ramirez, Carlos Moncrief) are essential to finding the ever-elusive marginal gains that will put the Indians in better position to consistently contend.
The hard part, and the part that Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti are paid for, is to appropriately balance the risk of bringing in unknown-talents/sending out known-talents with the potential reward of returning to the postseason. The Indians will look for a little luck this evening as the enticing pitching matchup of Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez are slated for a 7:05pm duel of two of the top pitchers in the Majors.
Bauer had an off-night: he has proven that he is a viable Major League pitcher...now he needs to refine his approach and gain the consistency that will allow his prodigious arm to be used most effectively.
Gomes batting lower than 6th has now started me to question titos sanity I don't care who is pitching. I could see if this was the 1995 team. It's NOT!!
You can make a good argument he's been our second or third best hitter since last summer.
Wake up Tito!!!!!!!!!!
I was just talking about this with a friend. I couldn't agree more. I'd love to find a way to get Ramirez everyday reps and Perez as many reps as possible in the final months of the season. Best case scenario, they impress, and maybe you can package them to fill a need this offseason (#3-4 SP, RH bat). Worst case scenario you find out they're simply not everyday type players, which we already assumed, and you've lost nothing.