Second Thoughts Game #121: Indians 9, Twins 8
On the heels of the two most disappointing series of the year, the Indians entered this game hoping to secure a series win and gain some momentum. After an impressive relief outing coinciding with Scott Kazmir being given some rest, Carlos Carrasco returns to the starting rotation for this game. It’s a big game for the Indians and a big game for Carrasco individually as he seeks to carve out a role on the staff after struggling in his last turn in the rotation.
The Whole Nine
1. This was another huge come from behind win by the Indians. Similar to the game against the Angels on Sunday, things seemed hopeless with the Twins up 7-3 in the eighth inning. However, as we’ve seen time and time again, this team doesn’t quit. The big hit came from Jason Giambi in the form of a three-run homer. Give him credit, when he gets hits they’re big ones. Staving off this loss and getting the series win should be a huge boost of confidence for the club.
2. On the flip side, bad performances from Carlos Carrasco, Rich Hill, Matt Albers, and Chris Perez nearly proved more than the Indians offense could handle. After Carlos Santana put the team ahead in the top of the tenth inning Chris Perez came in and gave the lead right back up. Perez’s blown save in the first game of the Detroit series was a crushing blow that I’m not sure the team has really recovered from. It’s hard to know how the team would have reacted had they lost this game after doing so much to get the game into extra innings. I suppose I should stick to one problem at a time, but if the Indians did get to the playoffs could you imagine Perez coming in to protect a one run lead? Is there anyone out there confident he could get the job done?
3. Since the day this season started we’ve had better middle relief options than Matt Albers. While the Indians don’t have many good left-handed options, it can’t be too hard to find someone better than Rich Hill. Yet, here we are still talking about them on the team. Albers isn’t a terrible guy to have around but my issue with him has always been the simple fact that relievers who could have a chance to make a much larger impact on this team are sitting in AAA. Hill’s survival on the roster continues to baffle me. The team has never given themselves a chance to find upgrades to players who are struggling or simply aren’t good because they refuse to give anyone else a chance. These guys are the epitome of replaceable and if they were replaced when they should have been (say June, July) then the team would have had time to work in their replacements or acquire someone better. Instead, the status quo won out and sometimes this is what that gets you.
4. This game was just another chapter in the up and down (mostly down) saga of Carlos Carrasco this year. The Twins teed off on him with 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. One of his problems was being unable to get out of innings with two outs, but to his credit he didn’t completely implode as he’s done before. I’m not sure if Carrasco is going to get another start or not but he’s now had seven on the season and managed only one quality start. At this point it’s doubtful he gets much of a chance at a rotation spot next season, so it appears a trade or move to the bullpen is his future this winter. I’m somewhat intrigued about what he could bring to the pen next year. It might be a good career move for him.
5. It wasn’t much more than a week ago that the Indians were sporting a starting rotation with five starters capable of giving the team quality starts each and every time out. In particular, Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir were streaking and seemed primed for a strong stretch run. Now, Kluber is hurt and Kazmir has a ‘dead arm.’ In their place Carrasco and Salazar haven’t had good starts. Until both guys come back it’s important that they’re replacements do better than they did this week. Its up to the rotation to carry the offense until it gets out of its team wide funk.
6. By team wide funk, this is what I mean. Here are some post All-Star break numbers.
Michael Bourn: .215/.295/.323
Asdrubal Cabrera: .181/.212/.309
Carlos Santana: .216/.286/.352
In fact, since the All-Star break the Indians don’t have one regular with an OPS above .700.
7. A few more numbers on the offense. With Wednesday’s comeback aside the Indians team OPS since the All-Star break is s mere .667. That’s 25th in all of baseball and last of the teams fighting for a playoff spot. Most of the
Indians regulars are hovering around their season lows in all statistical categories. Francona HAS to do something to breathe some life into this group. At this point I think it’s deeper than just moving Asdrubal Cabrera out of the four spot. He needs to work in even more playing time for his few hot hitters and the Front Office really needs to try to bring in another bat before the end of the month.
8. One guy in particular who I didn’t list above, but has really bottomed out is Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall has only three hits in 28 August at-bats (.107) following an encouraging month of July. It doesn’t seem like Francona has any faith in him either, which isn’t a good sign moving forward. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team in the market for a third baseman in the offseason. They’ll need to shore up the offense somewhere, and the most likely positions are DH or third base.
9. Right now the Indians are 3.0 games out of the second Wild Card spot, currently held by Oakland. With a head to head series remaining against Oakland and Baltimore and such a soft September schedule the team is still in position to make the playoffs if they get on a run. No matter what has happened previously, there are so many guys underperforming right now that I can’t help but hope we’re due for some of these guys playing back toward their career numbers. If they do, we still have a chance.
Taking two or three games in Oakland would put the Indians right back into the thick of things in the Wild Card race. That’s what it’s all about at this point. It wasn’t pretty, but the team did what they needed to do against Minnesota. It’s on to Oakland now for what might possibly be the biggest series left on the calendar. The series begins on Friday with Justin Masterson taking on A.J. Griffin.
Carrasco- not sure what it is with him starting, unless those suspensions and hit batters have just taken away his focus. I'm still not quite ready to give up on him starting just yet, but unless you really could get something for him (probably doubtful), I would be open to having him in the bullpen. His type of arm doesn't grow on trees (why I want him to get one last look as a starter this season), which is why I would look to see if he can fit in some role. And, being that the bullpen has many question marks going forward, I would definitely not just give him away for cash, a PTBNL, or some career Minor Leaguer.