Second Thoughts Game #124: Athletics 7, Indians 3
Kazmir struggles and dismal Tribe offense leads to series loss to Oakland
Player of the Game: Chris Young (2-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI)
Things were far from bright for the Indians on the Bright Side of the Bay Sunday afternoon.
Tying the game at three in the fifth inning, Oakland rallied back to score four unanswered runs over their final four frames as they took the series finale against the Tribe, 7-3.
No quality start from left-hander Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.39 ERA) and more dismal production from anemic Cleveland offense easily led to another defeat, as the team has now dropped nine of their last 13 ballgames.
Kazmir struggles continue
Kazmir has been pitching so well for the Tribe, it’s almost as if it has become expected for him to go out and toss a quality start every five days.
The southpaw went just five innings Sunday, surrendering five runs on 10 hits for his second consecutive loss of the season. Having pitched in just one game since 2010 prior to this season, could fatigue finally be catching up to the 29 year old Kazmir?
There’s argument that could be made as Kazmir falls to 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA over his last two starts. He just wasn’t good prior to his last two starts, the left-hander was great. Over his previous nine starts prior to August 9, Kazmir was 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Having already lost right-hander Corey Kluber to the disabled list, the last thing the Indians need right now is for one of their best starters to struggle down the stretch when the team needs them the most.
Not so Swisher sweet
One day after helping his team to a victory on the offensive side of the ball, things quickly went south for Indians first baseman Nick Swisher especially defensively Sunday.
Not running out a groundball is one thing, but the icing on the cake was a botched ball at first base on a routine play in the eighth inning. The costly error plated the wild card leading A’s with two more runs, handing the game away right then and there.
Maybe the Oakland sun took Swisher back to his rookie days as a member of the Athletics, cause he looked nothing like the veteran the Indians signed to a $56 million contract this past winter.
The sad part about that is, the switch hitter put up better numbers in his first full season in the Bay Area than he has in his first year in Tribe Town. I understand he may not be 100 percent with a nagging shoulder injury, or the fact that he has pressure on him being the face of the franchise, or that he recently became a father, but this is the time for the bro to shine.
No, he hasn’t lived up to expectation this season, but I honestly believe this team wouldn’t be where it is right now if Swisher doesn’t sign with Cleveland. There’s still a little time left for him to regroup and get hot when it matters the most in September.
Raburn keeps rockin’
Hello, Tito, I think you found your cleanup hitter.
Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn continues to impress both ownership and fans as arguably the team’s best hitter to date. Having recently signed a two year contract extension with Cleveland earlier this month, Raburn has by far been the Tribe’s biggest offensive steal of the winter.
I know it’s easy to compare the two, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Raburn (195 ABs) .272 15 HR 41 RBI
Swisher (405 ABs) .242 13 HR 40 RBI
After hitting his solo shot Sunday, Raburn (12.9 AB per HR) trailed only Baltimore’s Chris Davis (10.0 AB per HR) and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (11.3 AB per HR) for the American League lead in AB/HR with at least 150 at-bats.
No matter how this season ends, I couldn’t be more excited to have Raburn back for a couple more years in a Tribe uniform. Hey Detroit, you can keep Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, we’ll take Raburn on our side.
Three runs on nine hits with one error was a recipe for disaster from the outset.
The Indians not only fall to 12-42 when scoring three runs or less, but also fall to 21-35 when committing at least one error in a ballgame.
Playing errorless baseball, the Tribe boasts a record of 45-22 while scoring four runs or more nets them a 54-16 record.
With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, it’s almost as if everything must go perfect over the final six weeks of the season in order for the Tribe to sneak into October baseball.
The loss puts Cleveland (66-57) 4 1/2 games in back of Oakland for the second American League wild card spot and seven games behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central.
Up next for the Indians: More West Coast baseball, as the Tribe travels to La-La Land to take on the Los Angeles Angels. Rookie sensation Danny Salazar (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will toe the rubber in the series opener against Angels ace Jered Weaver (7-6, 3.49 ERA) Monday night at 10:05 p.m. The three-time All-Star picked up the victory in Cleveland 10 days ago, giving up two runs on six hits through seven innings of work.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.