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Second Thoughts: Game #119 - Athletics 6, Indians 4

Second Thoughts: Game #119 - Athletics 6, Indians 4
August 18, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 6 0
LAA 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 2 x 6 11 0
W:Norberto (4-1) L: J. Smith (7-3) SV: Balfour (10)

The Indians came into Friday's game 25-13 in series openers, got out to a 4-0 lead and had their best pitcher of late on the mound. But that was only half of the game. The other belonged solely to the opposition.

The Good

Streaky and frustrating often describe Shelley Duncan's play, and this season has been no different. He came through in a major way in the fourth inning, though, depositing a grand slam into the night that opened the scoring. Many have wondered if he will join the group of traded veterans this month, but three additional years of control and a huge right-handed deficiency will probably prevent it.

Jason Donald defended in left field for just the 13th game in his professional career (all this season), but he played it as though he's never been anywhere else. He played one ball off the wall about as flawlessly as anyone could, another that short-hopped the wall well, got off strong, accurate throws, and made a sliding catch across the bullpen in foul territory. It remains to be seen if his bat can play anywhere on a regular basis, however.

The Bad

I continue to harp on this because it continues to show up: Shin-Soo Choo has been a complete liability against left-handed pitching. There is no denying that he has had an impressive season, but the problem is glaring, and he added another 0-for in this one. He got hit to lead off the eighth with the score tied, and an aggressive piece of baserunning got him into scoring position, but it was for naught. After his injury last season, the continued punishment he has taken from left-handers could very well be affecting his confidence to stand in and swing the bat like he does against right-handers.

It is frightening to think just how bad this pitching staff would be if not for Zach McAllister. Unfortunately, he put together a start that was more in line with most of the rest of the rotation. He continued to throw strikes as he has, but plenty of traffic and a pair of hanging sliders really hurt him in the three-run fourth. Maybe the biggest concern about him is his penchant for allowing stolen bases (opponents were 9-for-9 against him coming into this game), and one in the fifth led the tying run to score on a sacrifice fly. By no means was this a disastrous start, but more is expected of him now.

Joe Smith was brought on to get one out in the seventh inning, and did. He stayed on for the eighth, Vinnie Pestano's designated inning, and two reached against him without an out. He was charged with the two runs that would eventually score.

Vinnie Pestano was brought into Smith's fire, and not able to escape unscathed this time. The runs weren't his, but this was the second consecutive appearance in which he uncharacteristically struggled. He has probably earned the benefit of the doubt because of his dominant season, but he would be the first to criticize himself.

The Ugly

After Duncan's grand slam in the fourth, the Indians produced exactly one hit. Besides Choo's free and painful base, it was their only baserunner the rest of the way. The beat goes on for a puzzling (and puzzled) offense.

In typical fashion, Joe West ruined any kind of rhythm to the game with his floating strike zone. As someone who has never been in favor of replay, umpires this season have fully convinced me to support the concept. Maybe robots, too.

The Rest

Yesterday afternoon, word came down that Josh Tomlin would seek a second opinion about his sore elbow. The first opinion was never made known, but based on this development, it must have been concerning and likely involved some kind of surgery.

Next up: Two more against the Athletics, followed by a trek north to round out the true west coast road trip in Seattle.

For more Indians insight from Kevin, along with ticket giveaways, follow him on Twitter: @KevinIPI. He can also be reached by way of email at

User Comments

August 18, 2012 - 5:25 PM EDT
Explain this 'supplement' you allude to, shy?
August 18, 2012 - 12:23 PM EDT
Thanks Kevin. My thoughts from the Western Frontier- I saw the game live last night- first up close in person look at the Indians this year. McCallister looked like a solid back end of the rotation guy on a good team pardon the oxymoron. The fact that he is the Indian's best starter is indicative of the depths the Indians have fallen into, if you didn't already know. Lou Marson would not be starting every day for any other team. What did Tommy Lasorda used to say- "He couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat" He also failed to block the plate on a gorgeous throw from Shin Soo that would have nailed Rosales on a sac fly in the 8th. He's got good energy but it doesn't compensate for the deficiencies. Vinnie Pestano did not look live anywhere near as formidable as his numbers would indicate. Maybe an off night, I don't know. But if that's how it is, you want to trade him while the numbers are still flashing value. Esp. w Allen, Sturdevant, Haley, Armstrong waiting in the wings. Kipnis looks bedraggled, he should maybe go "supplement" shopping wherever Cord Phelps has been going. The Indians had 2 pinchitters available in the 9th and used them both. Kotchman .224 and Hannahan.228. Take a bow Chris Antonetti, you really know how to put a team together... Best player on the field Yoenis Cespedes, by far, future MVP in the making. 5 tool guy and he has the 6th tool without which the first 5 are useless- attitude and awareness. The Indians could have had him just as easily as the A's. Oh BTW, A's payroll @49mil, Indians@75.

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