Second Thoughts: Game 74 - Yankees 5, Indians 4
|W: F. Garcia (2-2) L: U. Jimenez (7-6) S: Soriano (17)|
The Indians looked to avoid a sweep in the Bronx on Wednesday afternoon, and subsequently put an end to their four-game skid. Left-hander Andy Pettitte only lasted four innings and a batter because of an injury, but that just wasn't enough of a break as they continue to scuffle.
Ubaldo Jimenez was not as effective as he's been recently, but this was still an alright start. Maybe not "good," but certainly not "bad." He handled a great Yankees lineup early, and really only made one poor pitch that cost him - a fastball out over the plate that Eric Chavez turned into a two-run double. The other that inflicted damage was a breaking ball out of the zone that Robinson Cano muscled out the other way. Still, he walked four, and that remains to be the biggest concern about him.
The inability to hit against left-handers is an ongoing narrative with this team, but a right-heavy lineup had a small amount of success in this one. The team scored three of their four runs against left-handers in their 4.1 innings of work. That's not setting the world on fire, but it's somehow an improvement over recent history.
Mired in a small 5-for-25 slide, Jason Kipnis put together a multi-hit game in the finale. He and Asdrubal Cabrera led the way as they do, driving in back-to-back two-out runs to give the Indians the lead in the fifth.
Since about the first two weeks of the season, Shelley Duncan has been a liability at the plate. That isn't entirely surprising, but his struggles against left-handers are. In the second, he came through with a double (to right field, no less) that got the Indians on the board first. If he wants to stick as a bench bat after an eventual left field acquisition, he has to be a threat against left-handers. Otherwise, what else do you have in him?
Vinnie Pestano suffered a rare letdown, and the run he surrendered was a vital one. Three hits in the eighth led to an important tack-on run to put the Indians down two. Of course, they went on to score one, but were unable to push a tying run across.
Once upon a time, the Indians led the world in walks and struck out the least. Where they stand now (fifth and second least) isn't a radical change, but the 12 strikeout-to-three walk kind of games have come more frequently lately. The ability to draw walks up and down the lineup seems to have taken a hit since Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana went down, and the offense has suffered because of it.
After walking with two outs and a runner on third in the second, Aaron Cunningham guessed wrong on Pettitte's delivery and was picked off. Pettitte has a great move and had Cunningham uneasy with a few pickoff throws, but Cunningham still tested him and made the third out. Much like Duncan, Cunningham has to play his defensive replacement/pinch runner role without incident if he wants to keep his job. It is difficult to imagine him here past the deadline, however.
Michael Brantley only had one official at-bat against Pettitte (along with being up when Cunningham got picked off), but he had a world of trouble. He saw seven pitches, five of which were strikes, and three that he waved at - all sliders down and away. He did draw the bases-loaded walk in the ninth that got them within one, but was 0-for-4 on the day, and is just 6-for-31 in the last eight.
What seemed, at the time, to be a move made because of Carlos Santana's struggles, turned out to be a move made because he was banged up. Santana was pinch-hit for by Lonnie Chisenhall to lead off the ninth, and for either reason, it's a disappointment. A lingering injury is the last thing he needs as he tries to find himself at the plate.
The Indians' season-high losing streak now stands at five. This is the danger zone for them. They are 37-37, and 22 of their next 25 games are against teams with a winning record. The one team that isn't? The Tigers.
Next up: The Indians' road trip now moves on to Baltimore for a four-game visit. They will see at least two more left-handed pitchers, with the possibility of a third, as the Orioles' game three starter is currently undecided.
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I'd consider starting Marson at catcher for a while and playing Santana at first base. He can focus on hitting while he stops taking a beating behind the plate. Kotchman isn't doing anything with the bat. If Santana doesn't start hitting they have no chance in the second half.
I would not agree that Pestano had a "rare letdown". He gave up an infield single, a bloop to the opposite field, and a routine ground ball that found a hole. Three cheap singles.