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Second Thoughts Game #56: Rays 11, Indians 3

Tribe offense manages just three runs as team loses series against Rays

Second Thoughts Game #56: Rays 11, Indians 3
June 3, 2013
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Player of the Game: Yunel Escobar (3-for-5 with a two-run homer and two RBI)

The Leadoff

Sunday’s at Progressive Field haven’t been too good for the Indians this season, as the team dropped the rubber match against the Rays, 11-3. The Tribe is now just 1-3 on Sunday at home, averaging just three runs a ballgame over the four games.

Three runs was all Cleveland would manage against Rays starterJeremy Hellickson (3-2, 5.59 ERA) through the first five innings. Hitters were able to slug out 11 hits on the afternoon, but it wouldn’t be enough to bail out starter Zach McAllister (4-5, 3.43 ERA) in route to his first loss at home since April 18.

The Bottom 9

  • Defense? The box score may only say the Tribe committed one error Sunday night, but the team had a number of miscues throughout the ballgame starting in the very first inning. Third baseman Mark Reynolds mishandled what would’ve been a routine double play ball but couldn’t get the baseball out of his glove with one out in the first. One batter later, Rays first baseman James Loney ripped a two-run double off the glove of the running Michael Bourn in center field. Combine that with a ball boy with less than a one inch vertical and a strike zone fit for the away team, and you have yourself one big Sunday disaster. 
  • Scoring three runs or less. Offensively, Cleveland would manage just three runs in the rubber match, and are now a dismal 5-20 when scoring three runs or less on the year. That number changes dramatically to 21-6 when the Tribe scores four runs or more. Sure pitching is still the key in any game, but scoring runs and a good amount of them helps greatly especially for the Indians. 
  • McAllister streak ends. Arguably the most consistent starter the Indians have had so far this season, McAllister ended his run of allowing just three runs or less in each of his 10 starts prior to his start on Sunday. The right-hander did not look in his 4 1/3 innings of work allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, walking four and striking out none. As consistent as he has been throughout the season, I think it’s safe to say this was just a small hiccup for McAllister as he looks to bounce back in his next start.
  • No strike zone. Only Home plate umpire Bill Welke could tell you where his strike zone was on Sunday. Pitches that seemed to be strikes for McAllister were called instead for balls hurting the Tribe starter through the first four innings of the game. This entire series has been a complete joke with this umpire crew, first the weather debacle on Friday, then the missed tag of Michael Bourn stealing on Saturday morning, and now this. I wasn’t a huge supporter of instating instant replay in every aspect of the game before the season started, but now I am all in on the proposed idea.
  • Bullpen struggles continue. Words can’t even begin to describe the state of the Indians bullpen as it stands today. Down just 5-3 at the end of the fifth inning, the Tribe ‘pen allowed another six runs on seven hits over the last three frames of the ballgame. Lefty Nick Hagadone gave up a home run to Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar before the other left-hander in the bullpen Rich Hill gave up another three runs in just 2/3 of an inning. Making his MLB debut, reliever Matt Langwell was greeted in the big leagues to a homer by Evan Longoria on just the second pitch he threw in the majors. A strength of the team at the outset of the season, the bullpen has quickly become a complete mess over the last few weeks.
  • Letting the Rays score first. Baseball is a funny game. When Tampa Bay scored their first two runs in the first inning, the Indians essentially had a very low success rate to coming back and winning the game. Not saying the Tribe would never mount a comeback, but when the opposition scores first this year, Cleveland is now just 7-20 on the season. When the Tribe scores first, the team is 23-6.
  • No momentum after ejection. After manager Terry Francona was ejected from the ballgame for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning, the Indians offense laid a big fat goose egg collecting just two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings of the game. I thought for sure the offense would get a spark and some momentum following the ejection. Francona gave some life to the 18,106 in attendance at Progressive Field, but unfortunately nothing for the Tribe offense.
  • No Stubb Hub? What has happened to Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs? Going 0-for-4 in the ballgame with a strikeout, Stubbs went hitless (0-for-9) in the series with five strikeouts. Hitting .250 just 10 games ago, he is batting just .225 on the season with three home runs and 15 RBI. Over his last 10 games, Stubbs is just 2-for-29 (.069) with no homers, no RBI, and 12 strikeouts. There’s no beating his speed and defense in the outfield, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ryan Raburn take over as the team’s right fielder on the upcoming road trip to give Stubbs a break.
  • Lose the series. The loss to Tampa Bay gives Cleveland their first three-game series loss since April 16-18 when they were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

The Top 3

  • Francona ejected. There’s nothing more respected in the game of baseball than when a manager protects his players and gets ejected from a ballgame. This was exactly the case on Sunday as Francona was tossed for arguing a strike call on Nick Swisher in the fifth inning, protecting McAllister and his team in the process. I don’t know about you, but one of the first thoughts that ran though my head following the ejection was former Tribe skipper Manny Acta. Managing the Indians for three seasons prior to 2013, you can count on one hand the times Acta protected his team and was tossed from a game. To me, that’s the difference between a successful manager and an unsuccessful one. Not the times a skipper gets ejected, but the times he goes out there to argue and stick up for his team. Like almost every single fan out there, I couldn’t be happier Francona is managing the Tribe.
  • More two out hits. Six of the Tribe’s 11 hits on the afternoon came with two outs in the inning. No two hits were bigger in the game Yan Gomes’ RBI double with two outs in the fifth inning, followed by a two-run single by Mike Aviles just two pitches later.
  • Santana ready to rock again? After hitting just .200 (20-for-100) with three home runs and nine RBI in the month of may, Carlos Santana collected at three hits Sunday afternoon for the first time since April 28. Hitting .389 in the month of April, could it be a sign that the switch hitter is getting back to his early season ways at the plate? We’ll have to wait and see.

Closing Time

With the loss, Cleveland stays just a half game in back of the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 30-26.

Up next for the Indians: The first of a three-game series with the New York Yankees Monday at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. Tribe ace Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07 ERA) will look for his A.L. leading ninth win of the season against 40-year old left-hander Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.83 ERA). Both pitchers are 1-0 against each opposition this season, as Masterson spun a four-hit complete game shutout against New York on May 13.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Steve
June 3, 2013 - 11:24 AM EDT
First place is sitting there for the taking and it is like we are just going to let Detroit take it because everyone says they are the better team.
Tihe honeymoons over for Francona, Swisher and Company. Time to put to rest all the commercials and hugs on how "This is a tribe town" and prove it on the field already!!!
No more "OHIO" and just play some "BASEBALL"

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