Second Thoughts Game #85: Indians 7, Royals 10
A 5-0 lead in the sixth inning on the Fourth of July is enough to make anyone feel just a little more patriotic. The subsequent relinquishing of that lead, however—and another lead shortly thereafter—can take the taste out of your hot dogs and the glimmer out of your fireworks.
The stat of the day was clearly this one: the KC Royals (40-42) scored 10 runs on just six hits, taking advantage of eight free passes (five by starter Ubaldo Jimenez) and a crucial error (also by Ubaldo Jimenez) to erase a pair of deficits and finally blow the doors down in the eighth inning.
The once fearsome Bullpen Mafia was bullied around again, with some predictable repeat offenders (Bryan Shaw, Rich “Inexplicably Still Allowed to Take the” Hill), but also a couple goodfellas you would have expected better from.Cody Allen and Joe Smith each coughed up game-tying homers (to George Kottaras and Eric Hosmer in the sixth and seventh, respectively), perpetuating the uneasy feeling that the Indians’ bullpen situation may not really be any more stable than that of the Tigers club they’re back to chasing.
? of the Day: The Entire Bullpen
This sentiment is certainly beating a dead horse by now, but the Rich Hill experiment doesn’t seem like it can go on much longer. While the Tribe has understandably given their other matchup lefty Nick Hagadone a long leash—with some mild improvement of late—the veteran Hill is just dumping gasoline on every mild fire he tries to fight. Since May 21, when the Indians were at their high-point of nine games over .500, Hill has appeared in 16 games and surrendered 13 runs in 10.1 innings for an ERA of 11.32. Opponents are hitting a snazzy .364 off him in that span, and he’s walked an additional eight. Worse still, yesterday marked the fifth time this season that Hill has come in and failed to retire a hitter, walking four batters in those critical match-up situations.
Interestingly, Bryan Shaw has been almost as terrible since that May 21 start point— allowing 43% of inherited runners to score with 3 blown saves and an 8.31 ERA.
With these sorts of open sores in the middle of the bullpen, the less-than-elite efforts of the usually reliable Smith and Vinnie Pestano become all the more difficult to work around. Suffice it to say, whether it’s Independence Day or a random dog day in the weeks ahead, a 5-0 lead in the late innings NEEDS to be protected. Whether the Tribe can tidy things up in these situations will likely determine their fate.
! of the Day: Drew Stubbs
While the three pitchers acquired in the Shin-Soo Choo trade all find themselves firmly in the Question Mark category at the moment, Drew Stubbs has exceeded expectations in as much as he has at least bounced back from his horrendous 2012 campaign to find that middle ground that made him a serviceable player in the two seasons prior.
You would certainly like to see that stolen base total rise in the second half (he has just 8 after averaging 33 the past three seasons), but as a #9 hitter, Stubbs has been a pretty efficient run producer. His 34 RBIs are just 6 shy of his total from 2012, and he’s hitting .284 with runners in scoring position. Yesterday, Drew drove in four runs offJames Shields alone with a dinger and a two-run single. Michael Brantley also had four hits in this game, and the scorching Jason Kipnis extended his hit streak to 15. But since we generally just equate him to a Matt LaPorta with better legs, might as well give Stubbs a little love for his efforts of late.
For all the highs and lows of this remarkably streaky Tribe season, the club’s record after 85 games (45-40) is just a single game better than a year ago, back in the last gasps of the Manny Acta regime. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers (46-38) similarly find themselves a mere baby step ahead of last season’s pace, when they were just 42-42 at the same pit stop.
It would have been mighty nice to carry some momentum into this big weekend series, but as it stands, Cleveland is 1.5 game back with a chance to be 1.5 in front come Sunday night. Whether they can grab and maintain a lead in the standings, however, will likely come down to whether they can maintain leads late in games. With Justin Masterson the only starter consistently able to work long innings, the clean-up crew for Jimenez, Kazmir, and the rest of the gang will need to be much, much better.
I did say it and tony I beileve sad it would cost 3-4 yrs at 10 million a year, if you recall, which I said was crazy.
that's ok, many of us including me got a bit over excited. my bad. I should have known better as guys go back to their career averages.
bottom line, reynolds is awful and so is jimenez. if we are forced to still play him everyday for some reason, it is just flat dumb to keep putting him in the 6 hole just to K all the time.