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Second Thoughts Game #129: Astros 1, Indians 3

Bauer shuts out 'Stros through six as Tribe clinches series win

Second Thoughts Game #129: Astros 1, Indians 3
Jose Ramirez goes 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in Sunday's 3-1 win over Houston. (Photo: Chuck Crow)
August 25, 2014
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It was a beautiful day at Progressive Field as the Columbus Clippers....I mean the Cleveland Indians....defeated the Astros 3-1 to clinch the series win. One would think the Tribe's AAA affiliate was on the field, though, with five of the nine players taking the field on Sunday having seen playing time in Columbus at some point this season.

The kids made their presence known once again as Bauer tossed a shutout over six innings while Jose Ramirez notched three hits and an RBI and Roberto Perez and Tyler Holt made key plays on defense.

Now the team heads into an off-day, which will be their last breather for basically the next month as they prepare for a stretch of 30 consecutive games, including a makeup game against the Angels on September 8th. The Tribe is now back at their season-high three games above .500 and six games out in the AL Central and five games out in the wild card race.

A Stable Staff Again

I think I can honestly say that I haven't been this comfortable with an Indians pitching staff one-through-five in a while as I am with this current starting rotation for the Indians of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and T.J. House. Of course, ideally, you would like to see a veteran in the mix to help lead these young hurlers, but they are still proving themselves to be a capable and even formidable rotation in the league.

Bauer became the latest Indians starter to toss a gem as he shut out the Astros over six innings on Sunday with nine strikeouts against only three walks. Following Bauer's outing, Indians starters now own a combined 1.71 ERA in their last 13 games while the pitching staff as a whole has posted the third best ERA in the major leagues since the All-Star break at 2.85 entering Sunday. They also own the second best WHIP (1.09), third most strikeouts (298) and third lowest batting-average against (.224) in the majors since the break.

Following the trade of Justin Masterson and the struggles of Zach McAllister and others, things looked very bleak for the starting staff as Kluber was basically a one-man show. Well, give credit where credit is due, because Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar, despite their own issues, have stepped up and established themselves in the rotation while T.J. House continues to prove there's a place for him in the majors and Carlos Carrasco surprising everyone with his dominant return to the rotation.

Probably the best news of all regarding these pitchers is that all are still young and years away from free agency. Of course, like I said, a veteran arm would be a nice addition, but seeing the youngsters step up like this has to be a welcome sight for Chris Antonetti and the front office staff.

So far, the Indians' strategy of addition by subtraction with the Masterson and Cabrera deals appears to be working out regarding their initial return on the trades and internal promotions to fill the vacated roles, which may save them some work this offseason as far as bringing in additional talent.

The Young and the Restless

While they are now just days away from being joined by several of their minor league teammates, Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez have paved the way for the future and, in some ways, reminded the big leaguers how this game is supposed to be played.

Ramirez may be sad to see the Astros leave town as he capped off his big weekend with a 3-for-4 performance, including an RBI giving him seven hits in 13 at-bats during the series. This has just been the latest in a productive stretch for the rookie Tribe infielder, though, as he is batting .405 (15-for-37) in his last ten games with two doubles and five RBI. Since his latest call-up, Ramirez is batting .307 with a homer and six RBI in 24 games.

I've said as early as last season that Tyler Holt would someday become a viable fourth outfielder candidate for the Indians and he has proven me right every step of the way this season from his start at AA Akron to his promotion to Columbus and eventually his permanent call-up to the majors. So far, he has taken advantage of every opportunity given to him by Terry Francona both on offense and defense as he is now batting .400 and has already made a number of highlight-reel catches in the outfield.

Holt's emergence as a hitter this season has been the final piece of the puzzle since he already possessed the speed and defensive ability to be an impact player. Between Akron and Columbus, Holt not only batted .305, he also posted an impressive .416 OBP and 71/66 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 98 combined games. That in addition to his versatility in the outfield make him an intriguing player to potentially keep on the bench moving forward.

While Roberto Perez has not been as productive at the plate as he was when he first came up, his work behind the plate continues to impress as he and teammate Yan Gomes now provide the Indians with arguably the best defensive catching duo in the league. Perez threw out another would-be base-stealer on Sunday as he has now caught five runners in 11 attempts. And while he was hitless for the series, he did lay down three sacrifice bunts.

This sneak preview of sorts that Tribe fans have gotten over the last few weeks with these young players has certainly brightened the outlook for the future and once the calendar flips to September, we will see even more of what the farm system has to offer in Cleveland.

Up Next: Indians (66-63) vs. White Sox (59-71) @ U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch at 8:10 pm ET (Tuesday).

The Indians head into their last off-day for the next month as they hit the road again and head for the Windy City for a series with the White Sox, who have since sunk into the depths of the cellar of the division along with the Twins. A pair of southpaws will face off in the series opener as T.J. House and Jose Quintana are set to take the hill on Tuesday.

House pitched a gem against Chicago in his second career big league start back in May with six and a third innings of one-run ball. In three August starts so far, the left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.65 ERA, including six walks and 17 strikeouts in 16 and a third innings of work during that span.

Quintana, on the other hand, has had the Tribe's number throughout his career and has a 1-0 record in two starts against them this year pitching six innings in each start and allowing only three combined runs on 10 hits with four hits and 11 strikeouts.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

August 25, 2014 - 10:05 PM EDT
I cant believe people are giving up on this season. They are not dead and buried mathematically. Matter of
fact there playing better baseball with Cabrera, Masterson, Axford, Swisher, Murphy, and Raburn either traded away or on the DL. Its refreshing to see the Indians play small ball with Ramirez, Holt, and Perez.

Again the next 21 games will determine there fate.
August 25, 2014 - 5:15 PM EDT
I see a Chiz- Aviles/JRam-Kipnis-Swish/Santana infield next April

Only difference from 2014 will be JRam for ACab and Perez for E.Johnson
August 25, 2014 - 4:59 PM EDT
If Kluber is still Kluber next season and Salazar, Bauer and Carrasco can be dependable, then the sky's the limit for the rotation. Chances of it happening are slim, as the three youngsters have all been inconsistent in their career. I'd take 2 out of 3 right now.
It will be interesting what happens to McAllister next season. He's out of options, so he's in the same situation Carrasco was in this spring. He either claims the 5th SP or gets stashed to the BP. I think he becomes a trade chip this offseason, as I think the Indians prefer a LHP as the #5, which gives the steady TJ House a leg up.

As for the lineup, like Tony, I expect the Indians to give the vets another chance through April/May at least. Bourn, Swish and Murphy should be safe because of $$, barring an offseason salary dump trade. Only fair competition could be between Raburn and Holt in ST, but if it's close it will be Raburn. At this point, I also expect them to keep Aviles, although I think he's not needed anymore with JRam and Walters on the roster. Even Walters could be at AAA again, if they call all the vets. Would be one heck of lineup in Columbus: Holt, Ramsey, Lindor, Aguilar, Walters, Urshela, Moncrief, Naquin

Lindor and Ramsey should open in Columbus since they don't need to be on the 40 yet. They also have not much of a track record at the level. Urshela should already be in Cleveland, but like Aguilar, he will open in AAA again, because of money, politics and ego.

I just hope they don't trade away the youngsters who are ready for some more marginal vets. I'd prefer the other way around and hope that Aviles, Bourn, Murphy, Mcallister, Scrabble, Hagadone, Chisenhall are on the block
August 25, 2014 - 4:56 PM EDT

What is your best guess of what the infield will be next April?

"As much as we maybe wish it to happen, the Indians are not going to begin next season with urshela, Lindor and Ramirez as their starters at third, short and second. In fact, I predict none of them will start with the team as starters and only Ramirez has a chance to open the season with the team. Urshela will certainly get some consideration at some point next season....and may get a late September call this year....but he's not going to be an option to start next season. And Lindor, barring something crazy happening, should open in Columbus as well."
August 25, 2014 - 4:26 PM EDT
I think Walters needs to play in the field and not just DH. If not now - later in the year. IMO it is difficult for a young guy to make the adjustment to simply being a DN and that it takes the rhythm of the game away from him.
August 25, 2014 - 3:55 PM EDT
As much as we maybe wish it to happen, the Indians are not going to begin next season with urshela, Lindor and Ramirez as their starters at third, short and second. In fact, I predict none of them will start with the team as starters and only Ramirez has a chance to open the season with the team. Urshela will certainly get some consideration at some point next season....and may get a late September call this year....but he's not going to be an option to start next season. And Lindor, barring something crazy happening, should open in Columbus as well.
C L Who
August 25, 2014 - 3:46 PM EDT
Mike, your POV is definitely legit, though I still think Kip can be moved with impunity for the Tribe as long as one of the supposed power guys in AAA (Ramsey, Aguilar, and now Walters on the MLB squad) pick up Kip's HR slack.

Walters at 3B is OK with me too. He can obviously hit for power.....can he hit for average too? Don't know. I do know that, assuming Walters / Urshela take over 3B, with Lindor at SS and JRam at 2B and Carlos at 1B, the infield defense improves subtantially.
August 25, 2014 - 3:17 PM EDT
Writing off Kipnis after an injury-driven season is not smart and I'd keep him. I also believe Tito's done a great job overall with a frustratingly streaky offense, though his love of playing veterans (especially those with contracts) drives all of us nuts. There really is no excuse for playing Rayburn this season, for example, all the way through August. Nobody's perfect though, and the job he's done keeping the pitching going while Callaway and the players themselves have got sorted out has been fantastic.

As far as the rest of the line up goes (current) the only guy I'd love to see replaced is Chiz, and Urshela might just be too raw. Hopefully we will soon find out but, in the meantime, why can't we see Walters at third? He was pretty good there in the minors. At this point, do the Indians really believe a couple of weeks for Lonnie at DH is going to destroy his trade value? No way.
August 25, 2014 - 2:19 PM EDT
OMG Chris Antonetti called out! The Columbus Clippers comment...just OMG. No love for the Tribe.

Here on the Eastside, I wouldn't let a brotha get away with that.
C L Who
August 25, 2014 - 1:34 PM EDT
I agree with Joe.

Let's deal some vets and play some more kids. Chisenhall showed flashes of stardom this year but at some point he has also to show boring old consistency. Kipnis is injured, but seriously, can't someone else play 2B better from the defensive standpoint and still hit?

I would like to see Urshela at 3B, Lindor and short, and Walters / JRam at 2B with Walters also playing a corner OF spot and DH. Brantley back to LF and Naquin / Holt to CF.

I agree as well with the writer.....this rotation is looking good now, and could be close to "formidable" in 2015.
Canadian Joe
August 25, 2014 - 12:18 PM EDT
This team has been a very frustrating one to follow and support this year. The offence has been very sporadic, and nothing really has been done during the year to help it out. The defense has been downright awful. No other words to describe it. Could be the product of trying to make everyone versatile, but not playing one position at an above average level. Time to cut bait here. It is not working ! This was one of the best defensive teams in MLB just a few years ago. Now THE worst. Really want to see Aguilar, Rodriguez, Urshela and Lindor on the infield next year. They shouldn't be any worse offensively, but a definite improvement defensively. Kipnis and Chisenhall are young enough to be dealt for some useful pieces. Presently, this is a patchwork ball club, and the future, in my mind, is very limited. While on the subject of shuffling, maybe it's time to look at Alomar as manager. Think Tito's work this year leaves a lot to be desired. Been a fan for 60+ years. Want a World Series before I'm called. This team, as it presently sits, is not going to win it.
August 25, 2014 - 11:10 AM EDT
It's put up or shut up time for the Indians. The next 20 out 21 games are within the division. Time to make a run. We will know a lot after this week in Chicago and Kansas City.

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