Second Thoughts: Game #71 - Astros 7, Indians 1
|W: Happ (6-7) L: Lowe (7-6)|
Despite an abysmal game two on Saturday, the Indians still had a chance to take the series from the Astros in Houston. Game three was no better, as both hitting and pitching faltered again, opposite a left-handed pitcher.
Casey Kotchman accounted for two of the team's five hits, and was really the lone bright spot, offensively. Well, if you consider two singles a "bright spot." Over the last eight games, he is 10-for-29 with six runs batted in. Still an underwhelming option, but he seems to be making strides lately. It's hard to imagine the Indians trying to replace him over Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan in left because of the money he is owed in comparison.
Derek Lowe turned in a quality start, but it was not enough to compensate for another offensive outage. This was just about the prototypical outing from him. He gave up more than a hit an inning (six singles and two doubles), but threw a lot of strikes, walked just one and did a good enough job of limiting damage. Despite the pitch-to-contact approach, it is still hard to fathom that a Major League pitcher can only strike out 31 hitters in 90.1 innings. Even with that and the general inconsistency lately in mind, he is an adequate option, so long as he isn't the best pitcher in the rotation like he was early on.
For the first time since May 19th (29 games), Michael Brantley did not reach base in one form or another. He hit in 28 of 29, walking in the game that his 22-game hit streak ended. The stretch was an improvement for him, but he wasn't wildly better. Prior: .255 average/.295 on-base percentage/.363 slugging percentage. Today: .278/.315/.385.
On the topic of streaks ending, Shin-Soo Choo's modest six-game hit streak also came to a close. He struck out three times, all against left-handers. The team-wide struggles against left-handed pitching have been well-documented, and no one has had more of a problem than Choo. In 97 plate appearances, he has just 16 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 26 times.
Nick Hagadone was ineffective again, serving up yet another home run. In his last four appearances (3.0 innings), he has surrendered nine runs, including three pitches that left the field of play. After starting out so well, he has hit a wall in June. He throws two pitches, and right now, his fastball is not being commanded. It might come in at 96 miles an hour, but all that means is it can travel farther when it's squared up and driven. Lately, all it's been is squared up and driven.
The ineptitude against left-handed opposition continued, and it's safe to say that it will continue as long as the Indians have just one right-handed bat that teams need to be fearful of (Asdrubal Cabrera). This loss put them at 5-15 against left-handed starters, but it is worth noting that Cleveland pitchers have given up five or more runs in 12 of those 15 losses (hat tip to @MrNegative1 on Twitter for that number). That is somewhat coincidental, but also speaks to the unpredictability of the rotation and front of the bullpen.
The team scored one run for a second consecutive game (and just two in the opener), and it came on a wild pitch. The light-hitting Astros outscored them in the series, 15-4. Their pitching is no better than their offense, but they threw a couple of left-handers out there and put the Indians at an immediate disadvantage once again.
Next up: Now that interleague play has come to an end for the season, the Indians will move on to New York to kick off a three-game set against the Yankees. Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez will go for the Indians.
For more Indians insight from Kevin, along with ticket giveaways, follow him on Twitter, @KevinIPI. He can also be reached by way of email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Replace Choo with a left-handed hitting minor leaguer against lefties? No chance of that happening.
The Indians are just going to have to take their lumps against lefties while continuing to win (32-19) against righties. Their are very few lefty starters in the AL Central so in a year when all of the teams are mediocre the Tribe still has a shot.
Quit overreacting. Yes, Choo leaves a bit to be desired at the plate against lefties, but so does the rest of the lineup. It's something to work on, not blow up because the results aren't great. Besides, his career numbers show that he's due for an improvement in that regard.
If all you're going to do is speak in "Woe Is Me" tones and whine about the losing culture take it somewhere else. IPI is about prospects and hope, not futility.
Based on the posts of yours that I've read in the past five minutes, I can tell that you don't know anything about baseball in terms of measurably performance. If you're putting future trades (that won't happen) on Manny Acta, you REALLY don't know how a baseball team works.
If you must critique every part of the team, try buying a ticket to a game instead of stuffing your mouth with pretzels on your recliner at home. No one likes an armchair general manager -- especially one that has no idea what he's talking about.