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Second Thoughts Game #15: Indians 2, Astros 3

Offense sputters again as Tribe drops fifth straight

Second Thoughts Game #15: Indians 2, Astros 3
April 20, 2013
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The Indians lost to the Houston Astros. That pretty much sums it up.

The offense continues to struggle with runners on base and in scoring position. Brett Myers gave up two home runs, but still managed to keep the Tribe within striking distance over five innings. The bullpen was once again outstanding pitching four shutout innings. However, it all came back to the offense and lack thereof in scoring opportunities.

The only major noise made offensively was courtesy of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Astros starter Lucas Harrel. Chisenhall now has two home runs and eight RBI’s despite hitting at a mere .205 clip. Overall, the Indians had eight hits and three extra-base hits, but failed to plate runs going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They left nine runners on base over the course of the evening.

The Brett Myers Gameplan: Limit The Damage

After a horrid start to the season, veteran right-hander Brett Myers has settled down over his last two starts pitching 11 total innings against his former teammates on the White Sox and Astros and only allowing five runs (4.09 ERA). A much better showing compared to his first two appearances where he surrendered 14 runs over 10.1 innings (12.19 ERA). Overall, Myers is now 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA.

Myers did give up two home runs in Friday night’s game to Houston corner outfielders J.D. Martinez and Rick Ankiel in the second inning. Myers now leads all Major League starters thus far this season with 10 total home runs allowed. Following the game, Myers admitted to having a problem with his flexor tendon since spring training, which has caused a subsequent drop in his velocity.

After these last two starts, it appears that Myers’ plan of action is to pitch as many innings as possible in a game and limit the damage, which is what Cleveland signed him to do. Two starts is a small sample size, though, and only time will tell if he can maintain consistency, but it does feel nice that - for at least the time being - we do not anticipate him going out and throwing batting practice when he takes the mound.

Missing Bourn

While it may not be the main cause of the offensive woes, one contributing factor could be the absence of center fielder Michael Bourn at the top of the lineup. Bourn has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a finger laceration after getting spiked in the hand sliding into first base in last Sunday’s loss to the White Sox. Not since the days of the great Kenny Lofton have the Indians had a leadoff hitter of Bourn’s caliber.

Bourn is currently hitting .333 on the season with two homers and two RBI’s. Bourn also has four doubles and a triple and is currently a team leader in runs scored at seven. Having a leadoff hitter like Bourn does help set the tone and take some of the pressure off other hitters in the lineup. Now, Bourn returning to the lineup won’t fix the offense, but they’ll be happy to have him back all the same.

Quick Game Facts:

  • Submarine-style right hander Joe Smith has now pitched in six games this season and not allowed a run in as many innings. Smith has only allowed two hits and struck out seven.
  • Cody Allen has now pitched 5.2 consecutive shutout innings and struck out nine in that span.
  • The Indians offense has gone 2-for-26 with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base over the last five games.

Quote of the Game:

"Home runs suck unless we hit them," – Brett Myers.

Up Next: Indians vs. Astros @ Minute Maid Park. 7:10 ET first pitch.

At long last, left-hander Scott Kazmir will make his Indians regular season debut against the once-perfect game winner Philip Humber. Kazmir has been sidelined all season thus far with an abdominal strain. After a successful rehab start in AAA this week, Kazmir was officially named the starter for Saturday’s game. Humber is pitching outside of the AL Central for the first time since 2007. Over that period, Humber pitched for the Twins, Royals and White Sox, respectively. In his last outing against Cleveland (May 7, 2012), Humber was tagged for eight runs over 2.1 innings.

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

User Comments

April 20, 2013 - 5:18 PM EDT
Except Myers is only signed for one year and Lohse is signed for three years and will make $22 million more over the rest of his contract. Lohse is an injury risk and has a career ERA of 5.19 over six years the American League and the AL Central.

I didn't want the Indians to make that kind of investment on Lohse and I'm still glad they didn't. If Cleveland had signed him to a 3-year $33 million deal and he injured himself or reverted to his old AL ways, fans would once again be calling for Antonetti's head. Too much risk.

The rotation does need help, but Kyle Lohse was never the answer.
April 20, 2013 - 2:55 PM EDT
yes, sounds like a DL trip might be needed. He can't continue pitching like he's pitching, they're going to be burning out their bullpen in a hurry. His velocity, low already, took a dive after about 50 pitches, where he was maxing out at 86mph after that. (max for the game was only 88) This is the exact reason why I figured Myers would struggle, and that the Indians were being incredibly optimistic to think a 32-year-old reliever could be converted back to starting without any hiccups. With Kazmir, who's never gone deep into games even when he was pitching great, and Ubaldo on the staff, they can't really afford to have Myers "work through it." If he's dealing with an injury, send him to the DL in hopes that his arm gets better and he can give them something better than 5 innings and 2 home runs. Kills me a little that the Brewers are only paying Lohse (3 games, 20 IP, 2.76 ERA, 2.54 FIP) $4 million more this year than what the Indians are paying Myers. It was such as classic Indians small-market fail move, spending a good chunk of change for a non-upgrade, when they could've spent a little more for a big upgrade. The pitching equivalent of Sizemore over Willingham.
April 20, 2013 - 12:39 PM EDT
I think Paul Hoynes reported he had some forearm (flexor tendon) soreness. Could be kind of dead arm scenario... struggling to stretch back out (endurance) as a SP. Myers kept them in the game, but they have to be clicking on all cylinders on offense and get all the bats (Kip, Chiz) warmed up and healthy in order for this club to be competitive.
April 20, 2013 - 12:26 PM EDT
Myers was not good, he left a few other 86 mph "fastballs" down the middle that the Astros hitters didn't hit out, because, well, they are Astros hitters. Again though, the offense is the main culprit. I thought they would struggle at the start due to Ubaldo and Myers, but I was hopeful that Asdrubal and Kipnis would play well, and the bullpen would keep them in games, and then eventually with the starting staff would improve and as in 2005, they could have a strong second half. Instead, while the bullpen has for the most part done their part, they otherwise look like the 2010 team, overall awful. Chisenhall still looks like a poorly programmed AI video game batter, who will literally swing at any curveball. Why do pitchers even throw him fastballs, or strikes? Asdrubal apparently is what he is, a very inconsistent player who will probably never have a full, solid year. Kipnis and Chisenhall may make us rethink the idea of the "improved drafting" after 2009. It's early, and often the first few weeks aren't very predictive, but last night they really looked like the team that couldn't win last August.
April 20, 2013 - 11:30 AM EDT
For God's sake let's hope Kazmir is effective. Not sure where, but Jiminez & Myers need to go before we're 15 back and out of the pennant race by Memorial Day yet again.

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