Second Thoughts: Game #64-Pirates 9, Indians 2
Player of the Game: Casey McGehee (2-for-4 with a 2-run HR and 4 RBI)
It was nowhere close to the kind of game Indians manager Manny Acta and his players were envisioning on Saturday, as the Pirates tied the three game series with a an easy 9-2 victory. After gaining some momentum shutting out Pittsburgh on Friday, Cleveland never looked as though they ever had control in the ballgame as the Indians offense woes continue.
The Indians are now just 12-15 over their last 27 games.
The Bottom 9
- Runners in scoring position. This has become the single most pressing issue for the Indians over the past week now. The Tribe went 0-for-8 with RISP on Saturday and are just hitting .067 (2-for-33) with RISP over their past four games. And if that wasn’t enough, the team is 7-for-60 with runners in scoring position over their last eight games. Something has to give one of these games doesn’t it? What happened to all the Progressive Field magic? The Indians have to simply find a way to get back to getting clutch 2-out hits like they were earlier this season.
- Bases loaded & nothing. With the Indians down 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis lead off the inning with back-to-back base hits. The middle of the order just couldn’t advance both runners or get a clutch RBI hit, as Carlos Santana popped out to short and Michael Brantley flied out to center field. Johnny Damon then drew a four pitch walk before Shelley Duncan swung at the first pitch with the bases loaded only to pop out to short. That was the ballgame right then and there.
- Where’s the offense? Hitters 4 thru 7 in the Tribe lineup (Santana, Brantley, Damon, and Duncan) went a combined 0-for-12 in the game. Most of the Indians lineup was baffled by Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, as he surrendered just two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the struggling Cleveland offense.
- Brantley streak over. It was fun while it lasted, but Brantley’s 22-game hitting streak came to an end on Saturday as the Tribe centerfielder went 0-for-3. Hitting in the five hole in the Indians lineup, Brantley is now batting .333 (19-for-57) with a home run and nine RBI.
- The long ball. Six of the Pirates nine runs in the ballgame came via the home run in Saturday’s ballgame. Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit two of them, where his two-run homer in the ninth inning off Nick Hagadone proved to be the game’s clincher.
- The last Sipp. How many more games can the Tribe go with Tony Sipp in the bullpen? If it was up to me he would have been gone weeks ago, as the left-hander is now 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA in 22 innings. This is something the Indians must address very soon.
- Left Field. It may be early, but have been looking at possible trade candidates the Indians can target for the left field position for a week now. If I had to choose between keeping either Damon or Duncan, it would be Damon simply based upon his postseason and veteran experience on the field and in the clubhouse. I'll be posting an article soon on a few players the Tribe should target and potentially make a trade for to boost the struggling offense.
- Bullpen Mafia. Outside of Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez, what has happened to the Bullpen Mafia? Hagadone, Sipp, Accardo, and Joe Smith just don't seem to be themselves of late. Ever since the Tribe was swept by Cincinnati, things just haven't been as sound or as good as they can be in the 'pen. The bullpen for the last two seasons now has been a strength and asset to the team, they better get their acts together and fast.
- Pittsburgh fans. The sea of Pirates fans decked out in their black and yellow were out in full force again Saturday afternoon, as they took over like chanting Yankees fans throughout the ballpark. Embarrassing to say the least.
The Top 3
- Ubaldo solid again. Jimenez wasn’t as dominant as he was in his previous two starts, but he ultimately gave the Indians a chance to win giving up four runs in six innings of work. Over his last three starts, the Tribe right hander is now 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA spanning 19 2/3 innings, walking three while striking out 17.
- Asdrubal power stroke. Cabrera drilled a solo home run in the first inning on Saturday to give the Wahoo's the early 1-0 lead. It was the Indians shortstop's first home run since May 19th. I don't see Cabrera reaching 25 homers again this season.
- Drawing walks. They may have not helped score runs, but the Tribe walked five times on Saturday and only struck out three times as the team continues to lead all of Major League Baseball in walks.
With the Tribe loss and a Chicago White Sox win on Saturday, the Indians (33-31) move back 1.5 games behind Chicago in the Central Division.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will look to take the rubber match and win the series finale against Pittsburgh on Father’s Day on Sunday, as it will be Jeanmar Gomez (4-5, 4.71 ERA) vs. Brad Lincoln (3-2, 3.15 ERA) at 1:05 pm. Tribe catcher Carlos Santana is 3-for-3 in his career against Lincoln with a home run and four RBI.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
That's the equivalent to giving a trophy to a little leaguer for simply showing up.