Second Thoughts Game #62: Tigers 4, Indians 1
Tribe drops their seventh straight as the team gets swept by Detroit
Player of the Game: Jose Alvarez (6 innings 3 hits 0 ER 1 BB / 7 SO)
Make it seven.
The Indians would fall to their division rival Detroit Tigers on Sunday 4-1, as the Motor City Kitties completed the three game sweep of the Tribe. Making his Major League debut, Tigers left-hander Jose Alvarez limited Cleveland to just one run over six innings of work for his first big league victory.
Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.68 ERA) also looked alright in his seven innings of work on Sunday. The right-hander gave up four runs on six hits, walked three and struck out four and really made one mistake to Tigers centerfielder Don Kelly who sent a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to seal yet another win for Detroit.
Cleveland has now dropped 15 of the last 19 ballgames.
The Bottom 9
- When will it end? Seven straight losses. There is just nothing that is falling in favor of the Wahoo’s over this ugly stretch of baseball. Over the seven game losing streak, the Indians are managing just 3.4 runs per ballgame batting just .219 as a team offensively. If that wasn’t enough, the team is also hitting just .224 with runners in scoring position having belted just six home runs over their last seven games. The pitching side of things doesn’t get prettier, as starters’ ERA are a combined 7.85 over the seven game slide. You would have to think the only way to get out of the gutter is up, right?
- Scoring three runs or less. Offensively, the Tribe would manage just one lone run against Alvarez and the Tigers in route to their second straight series sweep. Scoring one run at the plate almost never helps, as the team drops to a dismal 5-22 on the year when scoring three runs or less in a ballgame.
- Getting beat by a rookie. I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one who thought the Indians would struggle against Alvarez in his MLB debut. Filling in for the injured Anibal Sanchez, Tribe hitters made the soft tossing left-hander look like the next Sandy Koufax early on as Alvarez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The southpaw would end up tossing six innings yielding just one run on three hits, walking one and striking out seven for his first big league victory. Over the last five years, pitchers that have made their MLB debut against the Tribe and logged at least five innings of work in their first start have a combined 3.63 ERA.
- Hitless with RISP. Opportunities only come so often over a nine inning game and offensively, Cleveland took absolutely no advantage of the scoring chances they had on Sunday. The team went a hitless 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and didn’t record a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning.
- Starting pitching. Say what you want about the offense struggling, or the bullpen giving up runs late, starting pitching means everything in the game of baseball and here’s why. Through the first 21 games, the Indians went just 8-13 as starters ERA was 5.71. Over their next 22 games, the team went a season best 18-4 as their combined starters ERA dropped to 3.24. And now, before suffering another loss Sunday, the team went just 4-14 with a 5.05 starters ERA. In order for Cleveland to have any chance of playing meaningful games later on this year, they need to get better outings from their starting pitchers, period.
- Really...Don Kelly? With the game tied at one in the sixth inning, Tigers centerfielder Don Kelly broke the tie with a towering three-run home run off Masterson to put the game away for good. Kelly may have come into the ballgame hitting just .188 on the season, but he has owned Masty in his as he is now 7-for-19 (.368) in his career against him.
- The road is dangerous. I think it’s safe to say the Tribe enjoys playing in front of their home fans at Progressive Field rather than anywhere across the country on the road. Sunday marked the 11th straight road loss the Indians have suffered, the most consecutive away losses since 1991.
- What happened to Mark Reynolds? Going a hitless 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Sunday, Mark Reynolds is now hitting just .239 on the season. Just as Swisher has been in a funk at the plate, the Indians right-handed slugger hasn’t been much better at the plate. Reynolds is now just 2-for-25 offensively over his last six games with 10 strikeouts. Since third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was sent back to Triple-A Columbus, Reynolds came into Sunday hitting just .180 with two homers and nine RBI.
- Goodbye Motown. I know the Tigers are the Indians division rival, and the road to any kind of playoff berth will have to go through Motown, but for the time being I couldn’t be happier the team has left Detroit. Comerica Park has never been the best place to play for Cleveland over the last few years. In fact since 2009, the Tigers 31 wins over the Tribe in Detroit are the most against any team over the same time span. The Wahoo’s next eight games against the Tigers are at Progressive Field, as the team doesn’t travel back to Comerica Park until August 30.
The Top 3
- Detroit gets Ra-Burned again. For the second straight game, Tribe left fielder Ryan Raburn greeted his former club with a home run. While his game tying long ball in the fifth inning would essentially go for naught, it was nice to see the former Tiger get some much needed revenge at Comerica Park. In 35 games covering 105 at-bats, rockin’ Raburn is hitting .292 with eight doubles, seven homers and 20 RBI.
- Swish breaks out of it. All you bros out there can breathe a sigh of relief, as Nick Swisher finally broke his 0-for-26 slump with a base hit in the sixth inning. Listen, the bottom line is switch hitter has been around the game too long to let one hitless streak get to him. Despite his struggles, I can’t say more of the confidence Terry Francona showed leaving Swish in the three-hole of the order. If Tito has confidence in him, so should you.
- Lots of baseball left. As bad as it has been over the last seven games and over the last 19 games, there is still a lot of baseball to be played this year. There are still 100 more games that stand between the Tribe and a potential trip to October. Remember Cleveland fans, the 162-game journey is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
I remember talking with Reynolds back when the team was four games below .500 with a 4-9 record after getting swept by the Boston Red Sox. His exact quote following that loss was “A five game winning streak takes care of everything we’ve been through.” The Tribe then went on to beat the Houston Astros 19-4 two days later before getting the first win of what would be 18 of 22 victories just one week later. Like it was for the Indians in the month of May, better days will surely come. In fact, only 30 of the remaning 100 games Cleveland plays are against teams currently above .500.
Do you still believe now Tribe Town?
With yet another loss, Cleveland falls back to a season worst, 5 1/2 games in back of Detroit for first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 30-32.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look to stop their losing ways deep in the heart of Texas, as the team opens up a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (3-3, 5.24 ERA) will take the hill in the series opener against Rangers righty Josh Lindblom (0-1, 7.71 ERA) at 8:05 p.m. Texas starter Alexi Ogando was slated to start against the Indians on Monday, but was placed on the 15-Day DL on Saturday. While Kazmir is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his last three starts, the southpaw is a winless 0-3 on the road this season with a 6.66 ERA in five road starts.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Time to give him a free pass to first base on his next plate appearance.