Second Thoughts Game #152: Indians 2, Royals 7
No Ground Lost
The Royals won this game 7-2 to complete a second series win against the Indians in as many weeks. While this was a missed opportunity to take the lead in the second wildcard spot, the Indians didn’t lose any ground on a playoff spot this series.
As has been mentioned several times, with this series over and done with, the only teams left on the schedule are Houston, Chicago, and Minnesota. It’s quite simple at this point. If the Indians beat the teams that they’re supposed to, they’ll punch a ticket to the one game playoff.
In the next couple of days the Indians will throw a resurgent Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Scott Kazmir, and Corey Kluber against an Astros team that already has 100 losses. These are all very winnable games, and even winning just three of four could lift the Indians into the lead of one of the wildcard spots by the end of the day Sunday. The Rangers and Rays play one more time on Thursday and then Tampa hosts the Orioles while the Rangers travel to Kansas City over the wekeend.
The wildcard race is going to come into much more focus by Monday.
Bunts, Bunts, Bunts
I don’t like them.
Trailing 3-1 in the third inning with zero outs and Michael Brantley on second base, the Indians called for Mike Aviles to bunt. Aviles advanced Brantley to third and Michael Bourn followed with a sacrifice fly to bring the score 3-2.
In the sixth inning, trailing 4-2, Bourn and Nick Swisher reached to start the inning. Jason Kipnis was then called to sacrifice, advancing Bourn and Swisher to third and second. Carlos Santana followed with a groundball out to first base and Ryan Raburn flied out to end the inning.
In both of these situations the Indians gave up outs with runners in scoring position, and played themselves out of a chance for a big inning. In the first instance, they played for one run when down two. I don’t like that strategy at all. I know the team has had its offensive struggles, but I’ll never be a fan of giving up outs when you’re down by multiple runs.
Bunting has its place late in close games, but not when you’re down two in the third and sixth innings. You have to give your guys a chance to string together hits.
Bad Night Defensively
This game featured some ugly defense by the Indians, and probably cost them the game. In the first inning the Indians had Billy Butler dead at the plate but a relay throw from Asdrubal Cabrera short-hopped Yan Gomes and got past the catcher. Butler would score, and moments later a wild pitch allowed the third run to score in the bottom of the first inning. Both of those runs should have been avoided.
In the sixth inning the Indians had Alcides Escobar in a rundown between third base and home plate, but Escobar juked Yan Gomes and got around him to score the Royals fourth run; another run the Indians should have prevented.
In the seventh inning Kipnis and Aviles misplayed back to back grounders (both ruled hits, but could have easily been errors), before Marc Rzepczynski got out of the inning.
To cap it all off, Ryan Raburn dropped a fly ball in the ninth to contribute to the three spot they put up in the inning. It was an unfortunate series of events, as an error-free game may have been enough to win this game even with the offense tallying just five hits.
-With the shortened outing from Corey Kluber on Tuesday and the importance of the upcoming four game set against the Astros, I thought it was particularly important for the Indians to get six innings out of Danny Salazar in this game. He wasn’t at his best, but the bullpen should be fresh for the Astros series.
-The Indians are 15-2 against the Chicago White Sox this season. If the Indians can manage a four-game sweep of the Astros before hosting the White Sox, they could have a chance to nearly wrap up a wildcard berth before heading to Minnesota.
-In the first game against the Astros, Ubaldo Jimenez will face Dallas Keuchel. The last time the Indians saw Keuchel they lit him up for seven hits and seven runs in 2.2 innings in the Indians 19-6 thrashing of the Astros on April 20th. Here’s to hoping the Indians tag Keuchel with a similar line on Thursday night.
Watch a hs or American Legion game and they can play better on the field.
Have to give them credit for the come back in the 2nd game, real nice.