Second Thoughts: Game #87-Blue Jays 11, Indians 9
|W: A.Laffey (1-1) L: U.Jimenez (8-8) S: C.Janssen (13)
Player of the Game: Adam Lind (4-for-5 with a double and 4 RBI)
Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays could be summed up in three words: The third inning. Toronto would send 13 men to the plate against Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez and score eight runs on eight hits. Cleveland would make a late comeback in the ballgame after being down 10-2 by the top of the fourth, but it was too little too late as the Jays would still cruise to a 11-9 victory.
It marked just the third time Jimenez would give up more than seven earned runs on the mound this season, his first since May 27th. Sure many fans are calling for the Indians to trade for a bat before the trade deadline and rightfully so, but if the Tribe really wants to make a statement to fans showing they are all for this season and potentially two more seasons after this year, they would need to trade for another starting pitcher as well.
The Bottom 9
- Jimenez back to being inconsistent? On one hand it’s tough to get on Jimenez as he has pitched very well of late, but on the other, will he ever just be a reliable starter that can help the Indians down the stretch? I want to say yes to that question, but until the Tribe starter can put up a full two months of consistent starting pitching, there will always be that slight concern in the back of my mind whenever Jimenez starts a game. He would throw just 64 pitches in the ballgame on Saturday, only 31 of them for strikes.
- Third inning is for the birds. It felt like it would never end. The bottom half of the third would take 31 minutes to be completed as the Blue Jays would slug out six extra-base hits in the inning and never look back en route to an eight run inning. It doesn’t matter if you are the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, or Indians, there are few teams that can on rare occasions comeback from an eight run deficit in the fourth inning.
- Way too many walks. Although it amounted to just one run for the Blue Jays, Jimenez would walk four batters in the game through the first two innings. Without giving up free passes, the game could have made the game even more interesting in the end as the Tribe came back late in the game scoring five runs in the top of the eighth inning.
- Blue Jays clutch with RISP. Unlike the Indians bats of late, the Blue Jays took full advantage of stringing hits together with runners in scoring position on Saturday. The team would go 5-for-12 (.417) with RISP, lighting up the scoreboard and Jimenez’s ERA as well.
- Not getting to Laffey. The former Tribe starter went five innings against his former club giving up four runs on eight hits in the ballgame. I felt as though the Indians could have roughed up Laffey for more runs though, as they had their leadoff man reach base in three of the five innings he pitched. It was also Laffey’s first win in 2012 and his first since September 17, 2011.
- Lind helps get the win. On July 1st, Toronto outfielder Adam Lind was hitting just .194 with five homers and 19 RBI. Since then, Lind is hitting .361 with two home runs and nine RBI. He would increase his batting average almost a full 15 points on Saturday, going 4-for-5 with a team-high four RBI in the game.
- Ed-WIN Encarnacion x2. The Toronto third baseman crushed two big long balls in the game, good for his 24th and 25th home runs on the year. And to think the Blue Jays were thinking about potentially trading Encarnacion at the end of the month before signing him to a three year extention a few days ago makes me think, what if? I think his second home run a moonshot to centerfield still hasn’t landed yet.
- What happened to Asdrubal? It almost seems like All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera forgot how to hit once the calendar flipped to July. Going 0-for-4 against Jays pitching for the second time this series, the Indians shortstop is now just 6-for-40 (.150) with no homers and two RBI through the first 10 games in July.
- Santana far from rockin’. If someone would have told me Casey Kotchman would have more home runs, RBI, and a higher batting average than Carlos Santana on July 15, I would have guessed the Indians catcher had to get hurt in order for that to happen. Well he didn’t. Santana struggles continued yesterday as he went 0-for-3 lowering his average to .221 on the year. He also had a chance to potentially tie the game late with two runners on and two out only to fly out to Bautista on the first pitch in the top of the eighth inning. I feel with Santana’s continued struggles and frustrations at the plate will force the Tribe to trade for a bat before the trade deadline in two weeks.
The Top 3
- Bottom of the order. Michael Brantley, Shelley Duncan, Kotchman, and Lou Marson went a combined 8-for-17 (.471) against Toronto pitching on Saturday, with three home runs and seven RBI. It’s nice to see the Tribe get some much needed production out of the bottom of the lineup, as the these hitters combined for eight of the Indians 12 hits and drove in seven of the team’s nine runs. It amazes me that both Kotchman and Duncan now have nine home runs on the year, four more than Santana.
- Dr. Smooth does it again. As I mentioned in my previous Indians game recap from Friday night, Brantley continues to not only be a force at the plate, but stay consistent as well. With three more hits on Saturday, Brantley extended his hitting streak to 12 games on the year where he is hitting .447 with three homers and 10 RBI over the two week stretch.
- The Dunc-Tank far from cold. I have been a Duncan supporter from the start of the season, and was upset when he was bumped from the starting left field job. Watching the Tribe the entire season so far, I’ve come to realize that Duncan is best suited for a role off the bench and in clutch pinch hit situations. I also come to know that the Dunc-Tank should be playing more every week. Crushing a two-run homer in yesterday's ballgame, Duncan is absolutely raking over his last 10 games hitting .419 (13-for-31) with five home runs and 12 RBI.
With both the Tribe and White Sox losing yesterday, the Indians (45-42) remain three games in back of Chicago in the Central Division. The Wahoo’s are also now an even 21-21 on the road. Brantley is just one of three players to have both a hitting streak of 20 games or more and a hitting streak of 10 or more in 2012.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and take the series on Sunday, as it will be Derek Lowe (8-6, 4.43 ERA) vs. Carlos Villanueva (3-0, 3.05 ERA) at 1:07 pm. Lowe is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in his last three starts, walking four and striking out four in 18 innings. Travis Hafner is 3-for-4 in his career against Villanueva with a homer and two RBI.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As long as Droobs is mired in a slump and Santana is the worst offensive player on the team, the Indians will struggle to score enough to win. They can't keep counting on Duncan and Marson to hit .400 and Kotchman to slug home runs.
Asdrubal has to avoid another second half regression like he had last year. Santana has to get it going somehow. And Ubaldo has to get back to where he was his last six starts.
Today they finally get a right-hander, and a guy who has been in the bullpen all year until the last two weeks. They need to make him throw a lot of pitches early, get him out of there by the 5th inning like they did with Laffey, and then get to those middle relievers again.