Second Thoughts Game #61: Tigers 6, Indians 4
Carrasco, offense struggle as losing streak reaches six
Player of the Game: Prince Fielder (2-for-5 with a three-run double in the second inning)
And then it was six.
For the second straight game, the Indians' late rally was too little too late as the Tribe dropped their sixth in a row losing to Detroit 6-4. Cleveland also drops their 10th straight ballgame on the road away from Progressive Field.
Making the start in place of the injured Zach McAllister, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 15.26 ERA) looked shaky in his four-plus innings of work, yielding six runs on 10 hits walking three and striking out just one. While he had just two bad innings, it was the offense that was unable to come through in the clutch with runners in scoring position that ultimately pinned the team with another tough defeat.
Having won 18 of 22 games a little over a month ago, the Indians have dropped 14 of the last 18 ballgames.
The Bottom 9
- Losing streak continues. When will it end? Less than three weeks ago, the Tribe sat 2 1/2 games up on the Tigers with a 26-17 record. The loss on Saturday now moves them to a season-worst six-game losing streak and a season-high 4 1/2 games out of first place. Yes, it is still early, but we’ve seen this same story before each of the last two seasons. Indians get hot early only to fade shortly their after. As tough as it may be to believe right now, this year is and will be different. Every team has their rough stretches throughout the season, but unlike the last two years, the Indians are built to sustain these losing skids this time around. The only way to go is up…I hope.
- Below .500. If this losing streak wasn’t bad enough already, Cleveland (30-31) is now one game below the .500 mark for the first time since May 1. There’s no other explanation for it, the Tribe just cannot play well on the road. As a team, the Indians are 18-12 at home and now just 12-19 on the road. Good teams find ways to win whether at home or away and Cleveland is just not doing that right now. Also the rule is with a below .500 record, there cannot be talk of the word “playoffs” until the team is at or above .500.
- No G Man? With two on and two outs in the top of the ninth, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar chose to stick with shortstop Mike Aviles with the game on the line against Tigers closer Jose Valverde. Aviles would strike out on a check swing on just four pitches. If it were up to me, I would have pinch hit for Aviles in that spot for left-handed slugger Jason Giambi. He may be only hitting .200 on the season, but I can’t think of a better guy to face Valverde with the game on the line than the Giambino. The 42-year old took the Detroit closer yard just one night before, so why not put pressure on Valverde with Giambi’s presence and history against him in that at-bat with the potential for the Tribe to take the lead with one swing of the bat? I absolutely do not get it.
- Carrasco takes the loss. It’s hard to pin the loss on the Indians right-hander as he was jumped up to the big leagues quickly after McAllister was placed on the 15-day DL. There’s no denying Carrasco has the stuff to be in the rotation and pitch every five days, but he does still need to work on pitching inside to hitters. Maybe he didn’t want to throw inside too much and accidentally hit another batter, but in order for Carrasco to be effective, he needs to man up and start throwing inside. If it were up to me right now, I would rather see Trevor Bauer take McAllister’s spot in the rotation but I hope Carrasco can prove me wrong in his next start.
- No offense against Porcello. Coming into the ballgame with a record of 5-3 and a 4.03 ERA in his career against the Tribe, Tigers starter Rick Porcello limited the Indians to just one run on three hits over six innings of work. I thought for sure Porcello would be the pitcher that would get the offense rolling again but I was wrong. The team seems to have Verlander’s number this year but have yet to do much damage against other Detroit starters like Max Scherzer and now Porcello.
- Middle of the order goes hitless. Cleveland’s three, four and five hitters (Michael Brantley, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds went a combined 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in the game. For a team that can’t seem to find that big inning or big hit like they have previously this year, it’s hard to do it without contribution from the middle and heart of the order.
- Slumping Swisher. Going a hitless 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the ballgame, Swisher is now 0 for his last 24 at the plate. While he has hit the ball hard to all corners of the field during his dismal stretch, the Tribe first baseman is now hitting just .239 on the season. I think I speak for all Indians fans when saying it’s sure been a while since we all seen Swisher’s smile on the field.
- Not taking advantage of scoring first. Cleveland plated their first run off Porcello four pitches into Saturday’s ballgame after Michael Bourn doubled and Jason Kipnis singled him home, but the team could not collect more hits to put pressure on Detroit. For a team that usually fares well scoring first, Saturday just was not the night.
- Lose the series. The loss on Saturday means the Indians have now dropped five of their last six series on the year. It may be only June 9, but the team has to find ways to start winning games on the road if they have any shot at playing in October.
The Top 3
- Ryan Raburn. Talk about revenge. It was really nice to see right fielder Ryan Raburn get a hold of a pitch in the seventh inning for a two-run homer, as the long ball not only cut the deficit to two runs but also came against Raburn’s former team. As a member of the Detroit Tigers for seven years, Raburn’s two-run blast in his previous home ballpark couldn’t have come at a better time to give the Indians a chance late. No, it didn’t win the game, but I have a feeling the Tigers may be regretting letting Raburn walk by season’s end.
- Bullpen puts up zeros. After Carrasco exited the ballgame throwing four-plus innings, the Indians bullpen on the arms of Matt Langwell, Cody Allen and Joe Smith pitched four scoreless innings giving up just two hits, two walks and five strikeouts over the final four frames of the game. It was nice to see the ‘pen finally put up zeros across the board when the team needed them the most giving the offense a chance to comeback and make a ballgame out of it.
- Francona ejected again. For the second time this week, Indians manager Terry Francona was tossed from the game after arguing with home plate umpire Andy Fletcher in the eighth inning. Francona argued with Fletcher after the ump and Swisher were barking at each other in-between innings. As I said after Tito was ejected earlier this week, any baseball fan or player has to respect the fire Francona has to stick up for his players when they need him the most. Sure he maybe got tossed to try and spark his team a little bit; there is nothing wrong in doing so and protecting Swisher in the process. Also, for the record, Fletcher had no business pointing his finger right in Swisher’s face like the way he did. MLB better start cleaning up this umpire debacle fans all across the country have witnessed this year in just two short months of the season.
With yet another loss, Cleveland falls back to a season-worst 4 1/2 games in back of Detroit for first place in the American League Central Division.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look to avoid their second straight series sweep in the rubber match Sunday at Comerica Park. Justin Masterson (8-4, 3.57 ERA) will matchup against Tigers rookie left-hander Jose Alvarez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) at 1:08 p.m. Nasty Masty went 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in four starts against Detroit last season.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.