Second Thoughts Game #125: Indians 5, Twins 0
Momentum Starting to Build?
The Indians are in the midst of an important nine game stretch of games. So many times this season the team has followed an emotional high (Tuesday’s comeback win) with a letdown. That wasn’t the case in this game.
The Indians did everything right. T.J. House pitched well, and the offense gave him more than enough help for the team to take their seventh win in their last nine games. Zach Walters andMike Aviles had home runs, and Jason Kipnis and Michael Bourn had key hits to lead an offense that has scored 12 runs in two games against the Twins pitching staff.
Throwing aside Trevor Bauer’s struggles in the first inning on Tuesday, House continued the rotation’s recent streak of solid performances. That’s not even to say that he was at his best. Typically when a guy like House allows nine base runners in just over five innings he doesn’t escape unscathed. However, that’s one of the things that has allowed him to be successful. He has great composure and poise on the mound, and doesn’t sink in big moments. He battled through 5 1/3 big innings and ended up securing the first road win of his major league career.
It’s been said seemingly all season that if the team could get their rotation in order they could make a run. We’re seeing that on a small scale right now. I’m not sure yet whether the rotation is actually rounding into form, or if pitchers like Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and House are just in a good stretch. Either way, even with the inconsistencies of offense, I think the team is showing that they’ll make a run if the starting pitching holds up.
Right now the Indians have a great chance to sweep the Twins with Corey Kluber on the mound today. If they’re able to complete the sweep, they’ll head home for a series against Houston with their best record all season. The team still trails Detroit by 4.5 games in the Wild Card race, but if they complete the sweep and take care of business against Houston and Chicago, they could be in striking distance when the teams meet in early September for a four game series.
Young Players Impacting Team During Stretch Run
Two nights ago Tyler Holt had a huge two-RBI double that completed a five run comeback and gave the Indians one of their more uplifting victories on the season. It was a comeback also made possible by Zach Walters’ two RBI single in the fourth inning, and some key relief work from Kyle Crockett, CC Lee, and Nick Hagadone(among others).
Walters was back at work in this game, hitting a solo homerun in the second inning to get the Indians an early lead. He would finish just 1-4, but as evidenced by this, he didn’t have much luck with a couple of other sharply hit balls. It’s clear that the team is committed to getting Walters playing time. He looks like he could be the team’s DH the rest of the way, as I don’t think David Murphy’s eventual return affects him as much as it will Chris Dickerson.
Holt on the other hand will serve more of a reserve outfielder role, grabbing some at-bats against left-handed pitching that would have previously gone to Ryan Raburn. He doesn’t have Raburn’s power, but with how Raburn has played this year it won’t be too hard to replace his offensive production. Holt is also a superior defender who can make an impact late in games as a pinch-runner.
Walters and Holt are both players that have shown that they can supplement the team’s core players on offense. They’re also players that may factor into the team’s opening day roster next season, so this experience during the stretch will help them down the road.
Players like House, Crockett, Hagadone, and Roberto Perez have also been solid contributors since being called up. Perez is a perfect backup catcher. He’s a good defender who has shown he can come off the bench and get hits. It’s not often that any player can come up from the minors, sit on the bench the majority of the time, but still have an impact when he does get into the lineup. Perez has done just that. He now has hits in eight of the 11 games that he’s played.
While I don’t expect House to give the team five plus shutout innings every start, he’s been steadier than a lot of the team’s others starters. Hagadone and Crocket have been outstanding in situational and middle relief work since their call up. These have all been important developments on the season. The group of Walters, Perez, Holt, House, Hagadone, and Crockett have combined for a 1.7 WAR thus far, which is nothing to sneeze at considering how limited their exposure has been.
- Yan Gomes certainly deserved a day off, but I find the timing somewhat odd. Gomes is 2-4 with two homeruns against Ricky Nolasco this season. Luckily it didn’t matter much, as the offense still managed 10 hits in the game.
- With the victory the Indians have moved to three games over .500 for the first time since July 19th. They haven’t been four games over .500 at any point in the season.
- The Indians will conclude their series against Minnesota on Thursday with Corey Kluber taking on Phil Hughesat 1:10 PM. Hughes is in the middle of an outstanding season for the Twins, and has only given up three runs in his last 20.1 innings of work.