Second Thoughts: Game #127 Yankees 4, Indians 2
After ending their nine-game losing streak on Saturday night, the Indians had a chance on Sunday to steal the three-game series from the Yankees. Instead, the offense suffered through their own version of a lazy Sunday, which is remarkably similar to the lazy Mondays-Saturdays they have went through for most of the season.
The offensive standout, by far, was Jason Kipnis. He led off with a nice piece of opposite field hitting in the first, and it seemed to set the pace for his day. He collected two more hits, a single and a double, reached on an error that was hard-hit, and struck a ball directly at Rafael Soriano in the only at-bat that he was retired in. He also racked up three stolen bases along the way, and played the same reliable defense that is customary from him. He has struggled some the last few months, but there are still numerous glimpses of the dynamic player that he is.
Carlos Santana squandered a pair of opportunities with runners on base in his first two at-bats, but somewhat redeemed himself and drove in the team's only two runs of the game in his third at bat in the fifth. It was his second chance with the bases loaded, and he chopped a groundball harmlessly back up the middle. His second-half rebound has slowed recently, but it remains an improvement over his start to the season.
The way the first two innings played out, it felt like another forgettable start for Ubaldo Jimenez. He was continually falling behind, having to give in, and getting hit. There were no 1-2-3 innings, but he settled in well enough to survive after that. Still, the laboring early on limited him to another five-and-fly outing (an even 100 pitches). Not a banner outing, but one in which he avoided completely taking his team out of the game after a rocky beginning. His issues are fixable, but it still tends to feel like an uphill battle.
Esmil Rogers collected six outs with just 21 pitches in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing one hit along the way. It was the kind of appearance he had early on when the Indians acquired him, but not so much since the break.
In a game full of futile offense, Asdrubal Cabrera was especially stifled. He failed to advance a runner at second with no outs in one at-bat, and struck out with runners on first and third and one out in another. Almost fittingly, he made the last out of the game with another runner on, leaving five stranded in total. For a second consecutive season, he is suffering through a second-half swoon, as his OPS is almost 200 points lower than it was in the first three months.
Since starting 7-for-8 on balls in play after being promoted, Ezequiel Carrera's luck, surprising to no one, has gradually ran out. This was his worst effort of the season, featuring three strikeouts (one with a runner on second and no outs) and a fielder's choice. Striking out has been a major problem for him, and the total is now up to 18 in 65 plate appearances.
Spelling Jimenez, Tony Sipp came on in the sixth with three left-handed hitters due up. He hung two sliders ahead in the count to the first, Curtis Granderson. One was liquified foul, the next deposited into the lower reserve section in right. His season has been up and down, but specifically, his slider hasn't provided him with the success that it has in the past.
Matt LaPorta saw one fastball all day. What that usually means for him, and what it meant in this game, is that he didn't have a hit. One at-bat featured a patented bat throw on a slider for strike three, and in another, he half-swung at a slider that he was right on, harmlessly grounding out. For all intents and purposes, this is the same LaPorta we have seen during every stop at this level.
In the "can't-really-explain-it" category, the Indians are now 6-15 on Sundays this season, and 16-30 in day games.
It was status quo for the offense, as they left nine runners on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The problem really hasn't been being completely impotent and not having chances; it's more a matter of not utilizing those chances. Either way, the fact remains that scoring runs is, has been and probably will be a major issue.
In nearly the past month (28 games), the Indians have five wins. Over that span, they have been outscored, 183-91. What is there left to say?
Next up: The homestand continues on with a long series against the Athletics, who swept the Indians in Oakland just over a week ago. Roberto Hernandez, Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber are scheduled to pitch.
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