Second Thoughts Game #131: Chicago 3, Cleveland 2
Tigers Lose, but Indians Can’t Gain Ground
After more dramatics from Zach Walters on Tuesday, Corey Kluber took the mound on Wednesday in a game where the Indians were the heavy favorites. The White Sox were losers of seven straight and 14 of their last 18. Meanwhile, the Indians had their ace on the mound, had won three straight, and were facing a pitcher they’d hit well all season.
It didn’t matter.
Kluber gave up a couple of key RBI hits and the Indians offense struggled once again. Kluber probably has six starts left on the season, and the Indians will need to take full advantage of them. This is two starts in a row where he’s given the team a quality outing only for it to go to waste by a less than stellar effort offensively. They had their chances against Noesi, but as we’ve seen far too often in the month of August, the Indians weren’t able to get the hits when they needed them. On such example was runners on third and second with one out in the sixth and Michael Brantley batting. Brantley proceeded to pop out and Carlos Santana followed with a ground out to end the inning. With runners on second and first and two outs in the ninth the Indians sent Chris Dickerson (.156 batting average in August) to the plate, who promptly flied out to end the game.
Right now the Indians, Royals, and Tigers are on a collision course. All three teams will be facing once another in early September, when the playoff race will become clearer. Right now the Indians focus has to be on catching Detroit. The Tigers are just .5 games back of Seattle in the race for the second Wild Card spot, and with seven games against the Tigers before September 15th, beating up on Detroit is now a necessity to making the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Indians have struggled with Detroit the past two years, and as this game goes to show you just never know what Indians team is going to show up.
September Call-Ups Approaching
September is just a few days away, and that means roster will expand to 40 players. The Indians will be looking to bring up players who can help the Major League team immediately. That begs the question, just who are those players? Below I’ve listed a few players that I believe merit an immediate call up and immediate playing time.
Austin Adams – C.C Lee is the only right-handed middle reliever on the roster right now, depending on how you want to label Scott Atchison and Josh Tomlin. Lee has been inconsistent in bridging the gap between the starters and set-up men, leaving room for a pitcher like Adams to step into the mix and earn innings down the stretch. Adams has a 2.60 ERA with a 50:14 K/BB ratio in 52 innings down in Columbus this season.
Brian Price – The comment above can also be used for Price. He’s pitched 25.1 innings in Triple A, with 27 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA. Price’s chance to pitch in Cleveland has been a long time coming, and even though he’s behind Lee and Adams in the pecking order, he could have the opportunity to earn some innings in September. Either way, he’s a major league ready arm and could be valuable in eating some innings in non-stressful situations.
Jesus Aguilar – If it were up to me, Aguilar would already be in Cleveland. He’s been as good as any hitter in the International League, and even though there’s not an obvious spot for him in the Indians lineup, with the way he’s hitting they need to make a spot. I’ll put it this way, I’d much rather have had Aguilar batting with two outs in the ninth yesterday than Chris Dickerson. We’ve seen the impact that Zach Walters, Roberto Perez, Tyler Holt and others have had this season. Aguilar is as good as those players. His slash line is .302/.393/.509 with 19 home runs in Columbus, and he’s earned a chance to play in Cleveland.
James Ramsey – This is player that I think has the least chance of being called up immediately, though I’m hopeful that he’ll get a chance at some point. Ramsey has hit well since the trade that brought him to Cleveland, recording a .307/.382/.534 line with the Clippers. When his competition for at-bats in right field would be Chris Dickerson and David Murphy, I don’t see any reason why Ramsey shouldn’t be a part of this team and given a chance to contribute. I won’t make it any secret that I hope he’s the starting right fielder next year. I think he’s going to be a very good player.
-Michael Bourn’s RBI single in the third got the Indians out to an early 1-0 lead. For all his other issues this season, Bourn has actually been an effective hitter in clutch situations. He’s hitting .345 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
-In 23 games during the month of August, the Indians have scored three runs or less 14 times. In those 14 games their record is 6-8. For reference, they’ve lost only 9 games on the month. If half of those games could have gone the other way the Indians might be within striking distance of the second Wild Card leaders.
-The Indians will finish up their three game set against the White Sox today, with Carlos Carrasco going up against John Danks. The team has scored 12 runs in 18 innings against Danks this season.
That said, considering the lineup disasters on this team to still be in any kind of contention going into September is IMO a testimony to the overall job Francona has done. Most of the high paid help has been MIA. I do note that Borne is contributing and Kipnis is starting to hit bit better.
How the team is structured - or restructured - next year will be gist for discussion all winter.
As soon as he gave up the single to Sanchez, they should have brought in a lefty to face Eaton. Or you know, even better, force the speedster Sanchez bat from the right side. Man just the Indians luck, Eaton was JUST recalled from the DL this week, and of course just in time for the Indians and just in time to torment the Indians.
As for last night.....tough to win scoring 2 runs. Kluber labored a bit but plainly pitched well enough to get a W out of it.
Another reason the Indians chances not making the playoffs this year is there very poor road record.