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Second Thoughts: Game #20 - Indians 4, Angels 0

Second Thoughts: Game #20 - Indians 4, Angels 0
Brantley getting hot at the right time (photo: Keith Allison, Flickr Creative Commons)
April 30, 2012
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I feel the need to give a quick disclaimer on this review; I live out of market so I rely on audio broadcasts, so my comments aren’t going to talk about bad swings and the like, because I have no reference. As the game occurs I'm going to post my thoughts and reactions, then do a quick summation of what was good, bad, and the big picture.

  • Every time Mike Trout comes up today it’s hard to think of the draft were we took Alex White instead of Trout. Everyone passed on him and now if that draft was done again he would go number two. Shows the problem in scouting and evaluating cold weather talent.
  • Wait, stop the presses, the Indians just blew a golden opportunity to score. I have never seen such a feeble offense in situations where they have multiple guys on base and less than two outs.
  • With the way he has pitched, could you argue that right now our best pitcher is Derek Lowe? Not bad for five million and a LOOGY who might never make the majors.
  • It feels like a win anymore when Duncan does anything other than strikeout. Even a pop up is a win for him.
  • I have a small problem with Jason Kipnis, I feel like every time a player walks in front of him he comes out swinging. If a guy is walking people, he needs to work on laying off and seeing if the pitcher will help him out. Just strikes me as too aggressive at times.
  • I love how the announcers made me think that the ball was an easy fly ball, and then bam, Hunter drops it. All of the sudden the Indians lead 2-0 and Lowe has been unhittable, so things look good.
  • Through six, Lowe has walked one and given up a single hit, which was erased on a double play. So through six he has faced one above the minimum. Plus he has retired 11 straight with only 66 pitches through six innings.
  • The announcers just got me too excited about a long fly out by Santana. I know they blame the wind today, but it would be nice to break that home run streak.  
  • No Duncan strike out yet. That’s like a hit for him to go three at bats without a strikeout. Can we make this an official category for him?
  • It’s hard to win with Kotchman and Duncan just being putrid at the plate. Cunningham is actually doing a much better job of late than Duncan. I know people were semi high on Duncan getting a chance but there is typically a reason why a guy is 32 and never had an every day job.
  • Lowe just got a strike out. It's the first of the day and only took the 19th at bat for it to happen.
  • In arguably his worst inning of the day Lowe gives up a hit breaking up a streak of 13 straight retired, and has to use 19 pitches.
  • Casey Kotchman got a hit. Do you believe in miracles? Can we at least now put his laser eye surgery story to rest as the reason he rebounded at the plate last year? I think by now it’s pretty obvious that he got a little lucky last year and his rebound was not surgery based.
  • On the other side of things, Brantley has really started to turn a corner. He seems to be making solid contact and getting on base.
  • While Wells is at bat, he puts Lowe over 100 pitches. I wonder if they will let him stay in for the 9th if he is still sharp.
  • Lowe pitched a great one, but has to be done after that single there. Time for Vinny P.
  • Bases loaded is never a good thing for the Indians this year. It doesn’t matter if they are hitting or in the field.
  • Good to see Pestano bounce back from the walk with the strike out. He's the best arm in the pen for the Tribe the last two years.
  • Santana with a second broken bat single, and he's now 3-4 today. It's ironic that his only out was a bomb to left field that almost went out. He has had the opposite problem of Kipnis, were he has been too passive. It's nice to see a bit more aggressiveness out of Santana.
  • I hope the bunt attempt by Hannahan was just diversion. I thought Acta was a stat guy. Bunts are almost always a bad idea by stats guys, as they give away outs.
  • Ok, so it worked out, but mostly thanks to the error allowed for a run. Still, I want someone to answer me this, why would you bunt with Hannahan to set up Duncan, who has been awful of late? This was a move that makes no sense at all.
  • Duncan got an RBI on a sac fly to make it 4-0, making that his best at bat this week
  • The attendance at Tribe games is just awful. I saw this week that the Indians have the lowest attendance by over 6,000 behind Seattle when it comes to average. Frankly, this is a massive embarrassment. The park is only 1/3 filled on average, which is 10% worse than Seattle, and also the worst in the league. BTW, the Tribe is in FIRST PLACE! This was brought on by an announcement that the attendance today was 15,000, which is actually better than typical.
  • Hannahan just ran us out of an inning. I still will take the two runs, and a chance to win this series. 
  • At this point if you’re an Angels' fan, do you hope Pujols is hurt? I mean, might an injury be best case and at least give a reason for why he has fallen apart?
  • Only one earned run today. If the Tribe wins today, the player of the game has to be Lowe.
  • One out away from the first shut out of the year for the Tribe, and Perez has looked very good. Another strike out for him and the Indians win, and are still homerless now 11 in straight games.

The Good

The obvious good was Derek Lowe, who has been the best pitcher for the Tribe this year, and who dropped his ERA to 2.27. On top of that, only five base runners reached base all day on him, and at one point, he had a stretch where he retired 13 in a row. The pen was also great, starting with Pestano, who worked out of a bases loaded jam. Perez then came out in the 9th and struck out two of the three guys he faced. I have been rough on Perez, but since his blown save, he has been excellent and looks to be back to a legitimate closer.

In terms of the bats two guys really had great days. Brantley was 2-for-3, with a walk. In the last five days, his average has risen over 50 points, and he has been doing a great job setting the table. The other hitter was Carlos Santana, who went 3-for-4, with his only out being a near home run. Hopefully this is the sign he is turning things around. If one other hitter should get a positive comment, it's Aaron Cunningham, who in spite of other problems has been actually been fairly effective at the plate. One could argue he has been better than Duncan and Kotchman of late.

The Bad

The dynamic duo of Kotchman and Duncan are still struggling. Kotchman got a hit today, but he is still batting below .150. His defense has been stellar, but unless he goes on a tear, last year looks a lot more like an outlier. Duncan had a good game because he did not strike out, but he still failed to get on base. The question for me is when Damon is ready, is it Cunningham who gets sent out, or might it be Duncan who ends up getting sent down or released.

Big Picture

With the Yankees winning today, the Tribe should be up a game in the division and the Tigers are having serious trouble. The concern about the Delmon Young hate crime is going to be a major distraction. Plus, for a guy who has had the trouble he has had, there is little doubt this will have a major effect all year. Now is the time for the Tribe to keep winning series' so they can build up a lead on the division. It’s been a quiet start to the year, but it’s the end of April,and the Indians are in first place in spite of their own problems. Not much more one could ask for.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at

User Comments

May 1, 2012 - 9:07 AM EDT
A chance Damon sits tonight, thought would mean Cunningham in LF and Duncan at 1B (really looks like Lopez is DFAed today to add Damon). I still think it is way too early to make major roster changes, which includes a LaPorta-Kotchman swap. If their trends continue when they hit the 40-game mark, then time to make the move.
May 1, 2012 - 9:03 AM EDT
I'm not sure they start Damon against Chris Sale.

The move I want to see is LaPorta for Kotchman at first base. Let's give LaPorta one more chance and bring him up when he's red hot and locked in. Kotchman has no chance against any left-handed pitcher right now. But, I expect we'll see Lopez at first base tonight and Thursday against Danks.
April 30, 2012 - 7:10 AM EDT
Yeah Rich...I've been preaching about the schedule since the start of the year. the Indians need to role into June with a big lead...then hope to ride it out...catch momentum...or sign someone. Of course, Sizemore will be returning then, as will potentially Roberto there may be a method to this madness.

As per Damon...should be fun on Tuesday...with an 8:00 game, and Damon reportedly making his debut, I'm sure Smoke Signals will be full of Damon talk...
April 30, 2012 - 5:55 AM EDT
By the way, the favorable schedule will continue in May with 17 homes games against only 12 away and only three games against a team that currently has a winning record (Texas).
April 30, 2012 - 5:50 AM EDT
The Indians got a break by the schedule maker. The Angels are all slumping at the same time and are playing well below their potential. Lowe pitched great but the Angels are just a bad offensive team right now.

The schedule has been extremely favorable to the Tribe in the early going as they have yet to play a good team.

They blew their chance to do some damage to Ervin Santana in the first inning and then he found his groove and pitched well. We got lucky on that fly ball that found a place in the sun.

Johnny Damon will replace Duncan starting tomorrow and not a moment too soon because Shelley is mired in a slump after a great start. He's either hot or cold.

Kudos to management for the Lowe signing. Looking at his age and numbers last year I was not in favor of it, but the guy has four wins in April and has been our best starter, so it's looking like a great move so far.

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