Second Thoughts Game #16: Indians 19, Astros 6
Tribe offense explodes for 19 runs on 22 hits for an easy win
Player of the Game: Nick Swisher (4-for-7 with 3 2Bs, 3 runs, and 2 RBI)
Finally! After a dismal stretch of baseball that left the Tribe in search of any offense, the bats rang loud in the heart of Texas as Cleveland toppled Houston, 19-6 ending their five game losing streak.
Astros starter Philip Humber would record just one out in the first inning before yielding eight runs on eight hits in 1/3 of an inning on Saturday. It was the first time in the last five days that the Tribe not only scored first, but led a ballgame.
The Top 9
- Offensive explosion. Talk about a much needed breath of fresh air. Sending 12 batters to the plate in the first inning, the Tribe amounted for eight runs on eight hits to open flood gates, and they were just getting started. Cleveland sent another 11 batters in the second inning for five more runs, making the score 14-0. Through two innings of play you would have thought this was a Browns/Texans game as the Tribe was up essentially by two touchdowns as they cruised to an easy victory. Coming into the contest, Cleveland managed to score just 11 runs over their last five games.
- Hitting with RISP. What a difference one game makes. Heading into Saturday’s ballgame, the Tribe was just 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position over their last three games, and 2-for-27 over their last five. That all changed on Saturday as the Indians went an astounding 11-for-22 with RISP. Even with the onslaught of clutch hits, none was bigger to me than Nick Swisher’s two out RBI double in the first inning to get the bats rollin’.
- Swishalicious. Speaking of the Tribe’s right fielder, Swisher set a new career high with three doubles in the game and tied his career highs with four hits and three runs scored as well. Entering Saturday’s game hitting .275, Swisher is now hitting .310 with two homers and eight RBI in 16 games.
- Everyone contributed. For the first time in a long time, everyone in the Tribe lineup on Saturday recorded at least one hit. Seven of the starting nine had at least two hits in the game, as the Tribe erupted for 19 runs on 22 hits, where 10 of the hits went for extra bases. The hope is that Cleveland can now build on a very productive offensive performance looking to get back to the .500 mark.
- Giambino! Yes, he is 42 years old and yes he did take steroids. But I really like both Jason Giambi’s bat in the lineup and his veteran presence in the clubhouse. The Indians designated hitter went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and five RBI. Two of his first three hits as a member of the Cleveland Indians have gone for home runs and boy have they been absolutely fun to watch. The Giambino can still rake!
- Marky Mark. I know it’s still relatively early, but I have a feeling Indians ownership will be kicking themselves by season’s end having only signed Mark Reynolds for one season. Barring any injury, Reynolds will lead the Tribe in both home runs and RBI by the end of the 2013. His three-run homer in the first inning off Humber gives him a team high six home runs on the year with 17 RBI.
- Slamtana. Catcher Carlos Santana continues to swing a hot stick through the first three weeks of the season, as he went 2-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBI on the night. Hitting .378, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (.393) is the only catcher in the majors that has a higher batting average than Santana this month.
- Kluber. While I am not sold on pitcher Corey Kluber just yet, the right-hander looked phenomenal in relief against Houston hitters. The Tribe right-hander pitched four scoreless innings giving up just two hits, walking none and striking out four. If Brett Myers has to go on the DL, or Ubaldo Jimenez continues to struggle, look for Kluber to be the first to assume a spot in the Indians rotation.
- Can win the series. Even after the disappointing five game losing streak, the Indians can still win the three-game series against the Astros on Sunday. This early in the season or not, winning a series is just as important now as it is during game 162.
The Bottom 3
- Kazmir. It was a forgettable first start of the year for lefty Scott Kazmir, as he surrendered six runs on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings. The southpaw looked good through the first inning but even with solid backing from his offense he could not make it through four innings on the mound. For now, I give Kazmir a pass as he will certainly need at least five starts to work his arm and get the kinks out. The left-hander has not won a ballgame since 2010.
- Errors. I know the one Indians error on the night by left fielder Michael Brantley was not a huge deal in the ballgame, but errors have certainly piled up quickly in 2013. With yet another error last night, Cleveland is now first in all of Major League Baseball having already committed 13 errors through the team’s 16 games.
- Asdrubal hurt. Prior to Saturday’s game, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera slipped down the dugout steps and bruised his left wrist. He is considered day-to-day but will not play in Sunday’s series finale. BetweenMichael Bourn, Jason Kipnis, Kazmir, and now Cabrera, the Indians have really been hit by the injury bug this early in the season.
With the win against Houston, Cleveland moves 2.5 games in back of first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 6-10 on the season.
Up next for the Indians: The rubber match of the series against the Astros, as Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2, 11.25 ERA) toes the rubber for the Tribe versus Houston lefty Erik Bedard (0-1, 7.04 ERA) on Sunday.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.