Second Thoughts Game #123: Orioles 4, Indians 1
Tribe bats fall silent in series finale as bullpen cannot hold O's back
To be honest, the fact that the Indians pitching staff held this Orioles offense in check for so long is impressive and even holding them to four runs in their "breakout game" of the series isn't something to be too ashamed of.
The unfortunate reality of Sunday's loss was the Indians offense was limited to just one run on two hits, all recorded in the fourth inning. While they did draw five walks, it doesn't change the fact that no hits were recorded in eight of the nine innings.
Danny Salazar was actually solid in his return to the rotation from AAA pitching five shutout innings before allowing a pair of baserunners in the sixth, who later scored against Scott Atchison. The young right-hander finished with two runs allowed on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts, but took his sixth loss of the season.
A rotation rebuilt?
Following the trade of Justin Masterson, the Indians starting rotation was in a state of definite uncertainty with no spots completely locked down after Corey Kluber. Since then, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin have proven to be ineffective long-term solutions whileTrevor Bauer has stepped up and taken control of one of the spots and now it appears Carlos Carrasco may still have a chance at panning out as a starter.
The team had hoped that Danny Salazar might be able to take one of the spots from day one this season, but it has turned out to be easier said than done for the young right-hander, who has battled command and mechanical issues this year as he is learning to keep his fastball down and develop his secondary pitches. After spending about two months in AAA Columbus, confidence has built within the organization that he is returning to form.
On Sunday, Salazar pitched five-plus innings since returning from his latest stint in Columbus while allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The runs didn't score until after the right-hander departed in the sixth where he had allowed a leadoff double and hit a batter. Both runs eventually came around to score against Scott Atchison. Still, it's an encouraging performance as the team continues to hold out hope for him becoming a dominant top-of-the-rotation starter behind Kluber.
Things are looking brighter for the future of the Tribe rotation, especially if Carrasco is back on track as a starter. Having Kluber as the ace and Bauer, Salazar and Carrasco as the next three starters gives the Tribe a lot of youth and long-term control on their staff. If they could add a veteran arm to the mix and keep McAllister, Tomlin and T.J. House as depth options, they would be in pretty good shape going into next year.
One run on two hits...
Other than the six-run outburst the Tribe managed to put together on Saturday, the offense was actually quite anemic during this home stand. In the other four games, the team only managed to score six total runs in 38 combined innings with three of those runs coming on solo homers, including the walk-off blasts by Zach Walters and Mike Aviles.
Sunday was no better as the Indians only managed one run on two hits, which all took place in the fourth inning thanks to a double by Carlos Santana and an RBI single by Jason Kipnis. Other than that, five walks were the only baserunners for the Tribe.
On the home stand as a whole, the Indians finished at 5-for-30 (.167) with runners in scoring position with 25 total runners left on base. On the season, the Indians are batting .260 with runners in scoring position as a team, which is middle-of-the-pack in the league, but are only batting .199 in that situation with two outs, which is third worst in the AL.
I was disappointed to see Tyler Holt sent back to AAA in order to clear a spot for Danny Salazar, especially with Chris Dickerson basically clogging up a spot at this point. While I'm sure Terry Francona appreciates his veteran presence, it doesn't change the fact that he's only 2-for-22 (.091) in his last 10 games. Holt at least proved that he was capable of adjusting to the big league level and becoming a spark plug for the team.
The point is it's getting late in the year and it might be time to consider parting ways with guys who aren't cutting it and giving some more of the youngsters from AAA a shot such as Jesus Aguilar, Giovanny Urshela or even the newly-acquired James Ramsey. At the very least, give us an idea of what viable big league position player options we have going into next season.
Up Next: Indians (62-61) vs. Twins (55-67) @ Target Field. First pitch at 8:10 pm ET (Tuesday).
Following his best outing of the season and arguably the best outing of his major league career to date, Trevor Bauer will take the mound in Minnesota for this series opener. The right-hander has had struggles on the road this year, however, posting a 1-5 record with a 5.82 ERA away from Progressive Field. He pitched well against the Twins in July allowing only three runs in six innings while walking two and striking out seven. Unfortunately, he took the loss in that outing.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is vying for his 12th win of the season. Gibson dominated his last time out against Houston pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only one run. In two starts against the Indians this season, the right-hander is 1-0 and has only allowed one run in 12 combined innings. He has walked seven batters in those two starts while only striking out four, however.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Next year, on the other hand, a whole different story.
The point I was trying to convey was that status quo is not working and won't help us get a playoff berth. The pitching staff is starting to step up their game like they did last year. We should be willing to try anything to get the lineup to follow suit.
NEXT YEAR IS NEXT YEAR..giving kids a look-see cuppa coffee might seem valuable, but this team is within four and a half of a wildcard spot and have 13 games against the teams in front of them in the division..NOW IS NOT THAT TIME...
Leaning toward giving up on McAllister or Tomlin or whatever you wrote is premature.. don't do that.. C-Dicks is the OF'er the Indians have on the roster now. Holt, while showing some promise will be back in 13 days to help the team THIS YEAR....
..just a sad column.. sad indeed..