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Second Thoughts: Game #70-Astros 8, Indians 1

Second Thoughts: Game #70-Astros 8, Indians 1
June 24, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
HOU 0 0 0 4 1 0 3 X 0 8 10 0
W: Keuchel (1-0) L: Gomez (4-7)

Player of the Game: Dallas Keuchel (9 innings 6 hits 1 ER 1 BB 3 SO)

The Leadoff

After the Indians shutout Houston 2-0 on Friday night, the Astros returned the favor on Saturday afternoon as rookie left-handed starter Dallas Keuchel threw a complete game victory in just his second Major League start, defeating Cleveland 8-1.

Tribe starter Jeanmar Gomez would take a perfect game into the fifth inning only to unravel and give up four runs in the frame, on his way to his third consecutive losing effort and seventh loss of the season.  

The Bottom 9

  • Where is the offense? Three runs on nine hits is all the Tribe offense has been willing to string together over the first two games of the series. With Houston being one of the worst teams in all of baseball during the first half of this season, the Indians just have not found a way to put up a big inning and hit well in Minute Maide Park. With the Astros moving to the American League West next year, this better change fast. Anyway the Tribe can take Carlos Lee with them once the series is over?
  • Gomez to be sent down? He may have looked good early in the ballgame, but Gomez could very well be on a bus back to Triple-A Columbus after the start he had yesterday. The right-hander has now given up four runs or more in five of his last six starts, where he has gone just 1-5 with a 7.93 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. Meanwhile down in Triple-A Columbus, Zach McAllister is 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 11 minor league starts. It would not surprise me to see Gomez get sent down and McAllister back up with the Tribe sometime this upcoming week.
  • Why trouble against rookies? The loss now makes the Tribe 0-4 against pitchers making either their first or second big league starts this season. Maybe a lack of video of these pitchers is the reason why Indians hitters cannot seem to get ahead or have any success off them during the game. My best guess though is that Indians hitters are just not making the necessary adjustments to these pitchers the second and third time through the order.
  • Hitters 4 thru 9 almost non-existent. Starters Jose Lopez, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Johnny Damon, Jack Hannahan, and Gomez combined to go 1-for-18 in the ballgame off Keuchel. Did the Indians watch any video of Keuchel or look at minor league scouting reports? Not a good job by the Tribe or their scouting staff as the Houston starter is not an overpowering lefty and was just 5-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 13 Triple-A starts this season.
  • Pitchers hitting. I know the Tribe has a couple pitchers that can hit in Tomlin and Lowe, but I cannot wait to get back to having a designated hitter in the lineup once Interleague play concludes on Sunday. While Gomez did almost collect his second hit of his big league career with a line out to center field, he also struck out trying to bunt with two strikes in the third inning. Absolutely unacceptable for a team that is already struggling to score runs.
  • Not manufacturing runs with RISP. Cleveland went just 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. The lone highlight offensively came with nobody on off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera, who would hit his ninth home run of the season with a solo shot in the fourth inning.
  • Santana as cold as ice. What may spark the Indians more to make a trade for a bat could be the inconsistent play from Santana, as the Tribe catcher is just 2-for-14 (.143) over the last four games. He also has not hit a home run since May 15th as his average now sits at .226 on the year. At this point one year ago, Santana was hitting .232 with 10 homers and 31 RBI.
  • Day games not helping Tribe. After losing to the Astros, the Indians drop to just 11-17 in day games in 2012. It does not get any easier for Cleveland either, as four of their next eight games are scheduled day games.
  • Fans. I was shocked to see that 34,241 fans packed Minute Made Ballpark on Saturday to watch the Astros battle the Tribe. Even with being the fifth worst team in the majors, Astros fans still come out to the ballpark. Cleveland on the other hand is in first place and continues to have attendance issues. These long road trips certainly don’t help, but the Indians should be in store for bigger crowds at Progressive Field once the team returns home just in time for the Fourth of July next week.

The Top 3

  • Hitters 1 thru 3. Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jason Kipnis combined to collect five of the Indians six hits on Saturday. Kipnis went 3-for-4 bumping his average up to an even .280 on the year. These three hitters continue to set the tone at the top of the lineup, only to have the rest of the order seem out of sync and continue to struggle.
  • Asdrubal continues power surge. With a home run off Keuchel in the fourth inning, Cabrera has now hit four homers over his last seven games. I questioned whether or not the Tribe shortstop would regain his power stroke in 2012 after belting 25 home runs one year ago. As of today, Cabrera is projected to hit 21 homers this season according to espn.com so he has not missed a beat.
  • Can still win series. If there is any silver lining that comes out of an 8-1 loss to Houston it’s that the Indians can still win the series on Sunday. Even with the Astros snapping Cleveland’s four game winning streak, the Tribe have won five of their last eight games and have played better ball of late. It all comes down to winning series’ in the end, as the team that wins the most three-game or four-game series will more likely be taking a trip to the postseason this October.

Closing Time

With the loss and a White Sox win, the Indians (37-33) fall back to a half game lead in front of Chicago in the Central Division. The Tribe is now an even 10-10 in the month of June and just 5-14 on the year against left-handed starters.

Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and win the three game series against the Astros on Sunday, as it will be Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.30 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (5-7, 5.15 ERA) at 2:05 pm. If there ever was a start for Lowe to get back on track it would be this one, as the Indians veteran starter is just 1-2 with a 7.15 ERA in four June starts. The Tribe will again be opposed by another lefty starter, as the team will look to improve on their dismal 5-14 record against southpaws this season. 

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

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