Second Thoughts: Game #45-White Sox 9, Indians 3
|W: Quintana (1-0) L: Gomez (3-3)
Player of the Game: Jose Quintana (6 innings 4 hits 2 ER 3 BB 4 SO)
The final score for Friday night’s Tribe game can be somewhat deceiving to those fans who may have not watched the entire ballgame. For five innings, the Indians and White Sox battled and played a close one-run game with their Central Division rivals. At the outset, it was what many fans envisioned how the game may actually turn out, especially with both teams playing good ball of late. Then, the wheels fell off and the Tribe looked nothing like a team coming off a sweep let alone a team that has won eight of their past 10 ballgames. No, the Indians would fall to defeat early in this one by the end of the sixth inning, as the White Sox won 9-3 in the first game of the three-game series.
Tribe starter Jeanmar Gomez settled in after a shaky first two innings where he yielded two home runs, one to Adam Dunn and the other to Cleveland killer A.J. Pierzynski. Gomez would give up just three runs on five hits through 5 2/3 innings only to have Manny Acta leave him in the game and ultimately give the ballgame away without getting out of the fifth inning. The 24-year-old's final stat line shows the Indians starter giving up six earned runs, but that all could have changed had Gomez not walked two key batters in the inning.
The Top 7
- Choo keeps on chugging. Shin-Soo Choo with another two hits last night is now hitting .372 in the leadoff in 43 at-bats. Even if Grady Sizemore comes back within the next month or so, I’m predicting Choo will hit leadoff for the Tribe the rest of the season. Hey, don’t fix what isn’t broken, right?
- Kipnis loves playing in his hometown. One of the lone highlights on Friday night came from Jason Kipnis, who continues his tear in his hometown of ChiTown. Like Choo, Kipnis also collected two hits against the White Sox, and is now hitting .476 (10-for-21) at U.S. Cellular Field in his short career, with a double, triple, home run, and five RBI.
- Scoring first. Although it didn’t matter in the end, it’s always good to grab the early lead especially when playing on the road. With two more games in the series this weekend, hopefully the Indians can put up some more runs first and get out to an early lead to stay next time.
- The return of the Dunc-Tank? Since Johnny Damon joined the Indians, Shelley Duncan has seen his playing time considerably diminish. Sure he batted just .230 in the month of May, but when he can get a hold of a pitch, he can send it a long way. With the team down late in the ninth inning, Duncan crushed his fourth home run to the stands in left field. It was his first home run since May 1 and hopefully a sign of things turning around for the Dunc-Tank. With Damon still struggling, Duncan could see a few more at-bats in the upcoming weeks ahead.
- Only one game. To those Tribe fans who are down and out about the Indians loss to the White Sox last night, forget about it. It’s only one game! We’re still in first place and today is a new day. That’s the beauty of baseball, to be able to forget about the struggles and losses of yesterday and focus on a brand new game against a new pitcher today.
- Jose Lopez hitting streak snapped at 10 games. Although J-Lo's hitting streak ended at 10 games as the Indians third baseman went hitless against Chicago last night, it was good to see a great 10-game stretch from the former Mariners slugger where he hit .353 (12-for-34) with four doubles, one home run, and seven RBI. I actually drafted Lopez on one of my fantasy baseball teams this year, so I guess I could say I was kind of right on him being like the hitter he was with Seattle when given the playing time.
- Juan Diaz making his Major League debut. He may have struck out in his first big league at-bat on Friday, but it was nice to see Juan Diaz make his first appearance with the Indians. Coming to Cleveland in the Russell Branyan trade in 2010, could Diaz end up being yet another steal of a trade with the Seattle Mariners? Only time will tell.
The Bottom 9
- Injuries. Please, please, please…don’t let this be the return of the injury bug for the Indians. Already without Jack Hannahan for 11 straight games now, Travis Hafner did not make the trip to Chicago due to a sore right knee. And if that wasn’t enough, both Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera left Friday night’s game as well, Cabrera with tightness in his left hamstring and Santana was taken out late in the ballgame after being shaken up behind the plate. Keep your fingers crossed Tribe fans.
- RISP turning point in the game. The Indians had chances but went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position against Quintana and the White Sox. The turning point of the game for Cleveland occurred in the top half of the fifth inning. With runners on second and third with only one out, and the Tribe down just 3-2, Cabrera popped out to first base and Santana grounded out to third. If the Indians score and take the lead there in the fifth inning, we could be looking at a different outcome to the game.
- Struggles continue against Quintana. As soon as I heard that the White Sox put John Danks on the DL and called up Quintana to make the start against the Tribe, I had a slight feeling we would struggle against the Venezuelan southpaw. In his big league debut against the Indians back on May 7, Quintana limited the Indians to no runs on just one hit in 5 1/3 innings. After his second Major League appearance last night, the White Sox lefty has now pitched 11 2/3 innings against Cleveland, giving up just two runs on five hits and striking out seven. My best guess is that this won’t be the last time the Tribe sees Quintana either.
- Pale Hose thrive off the long ball. When Adam Dunn crushed his 15th home run of the season in the bottom of the first, I knew the game could turn out to be a long one. It wasn’t just Dunn’s home run that gave the Tribe trouble on Friday, but A.J. Pierzynski’s solo blast as well. Although both long balls resulted in just three runs, the home run ball has given the Chicago success in 2012. When the White Sox hit two or more home runs in a game, they are now a big league best 15-0 on the season.
- Losing the first game of the series. I remember writing this same point last Friday when the Tribe lost the first game of their series against the Miami Marlins. If the Indians want to stay more than three games up on the White Sox in the division they are going to have to win two straight from their Central Division foes. Good thing is it has happened before, when Cleveland took two straight games from the Pale Hose in the beginning of May.
- Why didn’t Brantley start? Already missing Travis Hafner from the lineup, why was Michael Brantley given the day off? Is it just me or did the Tribe just have a day off on Monday? Not only is Brantley hitting .284 in the month of May, but he has the second highest batting average on the team batting .353 over his last seven games. And we are playing the second place White Sox, a team that could take us over if we continue to struggle against them. I don’t get it Manny.
- Another loss against a left-handed starter. Losing against Chicago and Quintana on Friday, the Indians have now dropped to 4-9 against left-handed starters on the year. At least over the next three games the Tribe will not be facing a starting lefty.
- Santana not rockin’. Over his last seven games, Santana is hitting just .143 (3-for-21) with no extra-base hits. That’s hard to believe considering the Indians are coming off a sweep of Detroit and have been playing good ball of late, winning eight of their last 10 games. With Hafner sidelined the rest of the series against Chicago, Santana will need to step up and breakout of his slump.
- U.S. Cellular Field. I know the Tribe has yet to play in Detroit this season, but to be honest, I almost feel like U.S. Cellular Field will end up being a more hostile environment for the Indians to play in down the stretch. Yes, Cleveland won the series on Chicago’s South side earlier this month, but with the White Sox now having won seven of their last eight games, there could be a momentum shift brewing. I know it’s tough to think about right now, but the Tribe closes out the season playing Chicago in six of their last nine games in the regular season, not to mention close out the 2012 season with a three-game series against the White Sox at Progressive Field starting October 1. Could that series end up being the series that decides the Central Division? Let’s just hope the Indians will have clinched a playoff spot well before then.
With the loss on Friday, the Indians (26-19) still remain in first place now just 2.5 games ahead of the White Sox in the Central Division. After this series, the Tribe does not play their A.L. Central rival until the end of September. The Indians caught a bad break when Chicago placed slated starter John Danks on the DL this week, as he is 1-1 in three starts against the Cleveland this season with a 5.49 ERA spanning 19 2/3 innings.
Up next for the Indians: The second game of the three-game series against the White Sox moves on with afternoon baseball on Saturday, as it will be Derek Lowe (6-2, 2.15 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy ( ERA) at 4:05 pm. A matchup between the American League ERA leader in Lowe against the former National League Cy Young Award winner in Peavy has the makings of a dandy pitcher’s duel on the South Side of Chicago.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Hafner injury is very concerning.
I don't think it mattered that Manny left Jeanmar in too long. It was only the 6th inning so they had to bring in Ascencio, who got lit up pretty good. Manny left Masterson in the day before and he worked out of a jam.
The White Sox have a tough lineup with Dunn and Konerko being the top two AL hitters for power and average, and they also have De Aza and Pierzynski, both of whom are killing the Tribe this year. Hopefully Lowe can turn things around and we can scratch together a few runs off Peavy to win another close one.
FYI, Juan Valdez is a famous fictional character who has appeared in advertisements for the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia since 1959, representing the Colombian coffee farmer.
Marson finally had a good game the day before, so why wasn't he catching with Santana at DH, with Duncan in left? I saw that lineup and figured it was an automatic loss. It's not like they were playing the Twins. It would be a good idea to put the best possible team on the field. Injuries can't be helped, but they could at least make some obvious decisions to try to mitigate the effect. Calling up Juan Diaz, who can't hit AA pitching, is bizarre, ad was sitting Brantley but playing Damon.