Second Thoughts Game #60: Indians 5, Tigers 7
Swisher's bad night, Ubaldo's struggles extend losing streak
No Fastball + No Strikes = No Good For Ubaldo
After arguably his best start in an Indians uniform last weekend, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched his way to an early exit on Friday night against the Tigers in a 7-5 loss. The right-hander took his fourth loss of the season while only pitching into the fourth inning despite throwing over 80 pitches.
His problem was throwing strikes as he only threw 50 of his 85 pitches (59%) within the zone. Since Jimenez doesn’t have nearly the same velocity he had back in Colorado, he relies command and pitch location to be effective. So far, he’s struggled in making the transition from a power pitcher to a “stuff” pitcher. His unconventional pitching mechanics don’t make adjusting much easier for Jimenez or his pitching coaches. He’s made some improvements so far this season, but has still had struggles with inconsistency.
In addition to command and location, pitch selection was also an issue for Jimenez on Friday as he tended to shy away from his fastball at times, particularly after giving up a solo home run to Victor Martinez in the second inning. Subsequently, Jimenez ended up relying more on his splitter, which can be effective, but mostly when he uses his fastball to set it up. When Jimenez can throw all his pitches for strikes and can mix them well enough to keep hitters off balance, he can be just as good even without the velocity. Doing it consistently is where the problem is.
Swisher’s Bad Night
Even Nick Swisher couldn’t crack a smile on Friday night as he went 0-for-4 at the plate and committed two errors at first base. Swisher is now in an 0-for-20 slump and has lowered his average to .244 on the year. The Tigers scored two unearned runs in the second inning due to a miscue on Swisher’s part, and I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty boneheaded mistake. The second error wasn’t as costly, but was still a play he should’ve made.
Obviously Swisher needs to break out of his slump at the plate soon. That’s a given, but his defensive woes on Friday were more than likely a fluke since he had committed only two errors this season prior to the game. It’s frustrating, but Swisher’s not the kind of guy to roll over and give up because of one slump. Here’s hoping he can demonstrate how to bust out of a slump soon.
The Value of Jason Giambi
Don’t look now, but Jason Giambi has six home runs and 20 RBI’s already this season, which is over double the RBI’s he had in all of 2012 (8) and five more homers than he had (1). At this rate, “Big G”, as his teammates affectionately call him, will have hit 16 home runs and 54 RBI’s by the end of the year. Not too bad at all for the part-time veteran DH role that the Indians signed him to fill. Some fans are quick to point to his .200 batting average, but when he does get hits, they are usually big.
Of course, his clubhouse presence was more or less the main reason the Indians signed him with whatever production he can provide at the plate being a bonus, but Giambi has shown thus far that while he won’t be putting up the MVP-caliber numbers he once did, he can still hold his own at the plate by getting big hits and working pitch counts. Obviously a great mentor for young hitters to look up to and get batting advice from. Like him or not, he’s been just as valuable a member to this team as anyone.
Quote of the Game:
"I know we're a lot better than this. It just feels like we're one hit away from being right in these ballgames,” – Nick Swisher on the Tribe’s losing streak.
Up Next: Indians vs. Tigers @ Comerica Park. First pitch at 4:08 ET.
If there was one game in this series that the Indians could and should win, this is the one. Justin Masterson going up against Rick Porcello on paper is a matchup that appears to favor the Tribe, but they have to get back to scoring earlier in ballgames. Too often during this losing stretch the Indians have scored late in games where the opposition’s lead is too much to overcome. Score early and often and reestablish the confidence both in the lineup and in the pitching.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Now, I too think this is a .500ish team, so we shouldn't be surprised. But I think based on the schedule coming up and maybe a few tinkers to the lineup/staff, getting healthy, and a trade or two, they can still figure into a wildcard race at least.
Brantley at clean up ? Why ???
Time to get the stars out of our eyes, and accept this team for what they are. .500 or a bit better. Maybe.