Second Thoughts Game #45: Tigers 11, Indians 7
Jimenez struggles as Detroit, Cabrera conquer Cleveland
Looking to gain a series split against division rival Detroit, the Indians entered Wednesday’s game hoping for a repeat of their May 11 game against the Tigers, where Ubaldo Jimenez outdueled Justin Verlander en route to a 7-6 win. In that start against the Tigers, Jimenez went six innings giving up just one run. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since April 21st.
The Whole Nine
1. Just as I was starting to believe Jimenez had turned the corner, this game happens. Ubaldo lasted only four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits and walking three. Jimenez struggled with his control again at times and the Tigers got on him early and often. This start will get magnified because it’s Jimenez, but this is just one start, and he’s had four good ones previously. I’m more interested in where he goes from here, instead of lamenting this start.
2. The starts of Jimenez and Scott Kazmir this last week remind us that while it looks like the Indians have a full rotation right now, you just never know. I think it’s important not to overreact to one bad start, but the starts this week from Ubaldo and Kazmir are a reminder as to why Corey Kluber will likely find himself back in AAA when Brett Myers returns. The depth he, as well as Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, provide is going to be crucial at some point in the season. Sometimes we tend to get caught up with who is better right now versus looking at things in a holistic point of view. ‘Who is better’ is a tough thing to judge, but what isn’t tough to judge is when/if the team cuts bait on guys like Myers or Kazmir, they’re not coming back. It’s better to exhaust those possibilities first before plugging in your depth starters.
3. Jimenez’s start was one thing, but David Huff’s appearance was another. Huff essentially blew the team’s chances for a comeback by giving up three runs in his only inning of work. That’s two bad outings in a row from Huff, the eighth reliever in the bullpen. His roster status is as shaky as it could possibly be and it’s just a matter of time until the Indians find a better use of his 25-man and 40-man roster spot.
4. For whatever reason, the Indians have always seemed to have some success against Justin Verlander. Despite coming into the May 11 game with a 1.55 ERA, the Indians roughed him up and handed him a loss in that game. Today wasn’t much different, with the Indians banging out 10 hits and five runs against the Tigers ace. This won't be the last time we see Verlander this year, so its encouraging to see that this team (and others) are hitting him.
5. Mark Reynolds’ numbers in May: .182/.295/.394 with 4 home runs, 15 RBI’s, and 24 strikeouts in 66 at-bats. It’s a reminder that baseball is a long year and no matter how much someone struggles, or thrives, for a period of time, things usually even out over the course of the season. Reynolds has continued to hit well with runners in scoring position and drive in runs, a trend I’m much more hopeful of him continuing instead of hitting anywhere close to .300, as he was to start the season.
6. I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t a big fan of Jason Giambi being on this roster and pessimistic of his chances of sticking throughout the year and that talk seems to be getting much louder in recent weeks. Giambi will hang around for now, mainly because the team doesn’t have many other options at DH. However, he's really, really struggling. More times than not he looks completely overmatched at the plate. In this game alone Giambi left four runners on base and worse yet, he hasn’t had a hit since May 9.
7. One possibility I haven’t heard much talk about is keeping both Yan Gomes and Lou Marson on the roster when Marson is ready to come off the DL and giving Yan Gomes playing time at third base and DH, as well as catcher. I don’t profess to have knowledge of how good defensively Gomes is at third base, but I do know that in a limited sample last year with Toronto he graded out well and he can’t be much worse than Mark Reynolds. Even if he’s not playing third, he could take some at-bats away from Jason Giambi as DH. That would be good.
8. Even before pitching two scoreless innings in this game, Bryan Shaw was the top Indians reliever according to WAR (Fangraphs). Shaw ranks fourth on the Indians entire pitching staff in WAR, behind Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, and interestingly enough, Corey Kluber. The next reliever with the highest WAR on the staff is Cody Allen. While Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, and Joe Smith get a lot of the credit in the Indians bullpen, these two might be the best middle relief combination in all of baseball.
9. One note on the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera is hitting .414 with eight home runs in the month of May. He’s currently on pace to tie Hack Wilson’s 83-year-old single season RBI record. Yeah, he’s pretty good, and we need a third-baseman. You think they’d trade him to us for say…Ryan Raburn? They love him in Detroit, right?
See you in June, Miguel. Feel free to maybe take one of those games off.
It’s disappointing to drop two games to Detroit, but it was nice to still see the team battle back from an early 9-2 deficit and make a game of it. That speaks to just how good this Indians lineup is. These guys are never out of a game it seems. With a better relief performance from Huff and Rich Hill, this game could have been salvaged despite Jimenez’s rough outing. The Indians will now head to Boston for a three-game series. Game one features Zach McAllister facing off against Ryan Dempster.
The next 3-4 starts for Kazmir and Ubado will be very telling. The Tribe has a very tough schedule for the next month, and those games will dictate whether we have a contender or pretender. If they continue to struggle, Carrasco or Bauer will have to be given a chance. Or a deal outside for a reliable starter. A lot of work and money went in to rebuilding this team last off season, and I would hate to see it all wasted for lack of pitching depth. The commitment from ownership/management was big, so expectations continue to be high. They raised the bar, now the moves have to be made to keep it high.
How we got both Gomes and Aviles for Rodgers defies my mind.