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Second Thoughts Game #96: Indians 2, Twins 3

Poor defense spoils dominant start by Kazmir

Second Thoughts Game #96: Indians 2, Twins 3
July 20, 2013
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A Wasted Effort

If anyone has had more tough luck in the Indians rotation this season, it has to be lefty Scott Kazmir. As strong and inspiring as his comeback to the major leagues has been, he’s also had his share of misfortune on the mound, whether it’s his own doing, bullpen blunders or poor defense behind him. In his last several starts, it seems like he’s had to deal with the latter two issues and Friday night was no different as Kazmir pitched shutout baseball into the sixth inning, but errors and botched plays led to the game-tying runs scoring on an RBI single by Trevor Plouffe.

You have to give the left-hander credit as he’s pitched very well in his last six starts going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA. He’s also pitched six or more innings in four of those six starts and allowed no more than three earned runs in any of those outings. It’s been a tremendous comeback from his June 15th start against Washington where he allowed five runs on four hits (three of which were home runs) in just two and two thirds innings.

Despite his recent success, the Indians are only 3-3 in those same six starts. Poor defense and bullpen woes took a much-deserved win away from Kazmir and possibly extended innings to take away a chance at pitching deeper into the game.

Despite the outcome, it still gives the Indians further incentive to keep Kazmir in the starting rotation as he continues to pitch effectively and work deeper into games more consistently, something the team is in desperate need of regardless of how effective the rotation as a whole has pitched this season. Stamina will be the key concern with Kazmir in the second half. Will his arm/shoulder hold out through the rest of the season? Well, right now, he seems to be going stronger than ever.

Disappointing Defense

If there was one game the Indians definitely deserved to lose, this one would be a strong contender. Not just once did the Tribe seemingly do all they could to let the Twins back in the game, but repeatedly throughout the night. While Scott Kazmir and the rest of the pitching staff managed to overcome some of the miscues by their team, the Twins finally did take advantage in the sixth and eighth innings to come back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead.

Asdrubal Cabrera got off easy on Friday night despite being involved in two botched plays. A sharp liner off the bat of Clete Thomas in the third inning was misplayed by the Tribe shortstop as he appeared to try and catch it on the fly, but then backed up and tried to back-hand it on the short-hop at the last second. It was ruled an infield hit, but very well could’ve been an error on Cabrera.

The next miscue occurred in the sixth inning just before the Twins rallied to tie the game at two. A ground ball chopped to third by Brian Dozier skipped off the glove of Lonnie Chisenhall over to Cabrera at short, who instead of holding onto it and holding the runners tried to throw out Pedro Florimon at third, but the throw was off-line and Dozier ended up at second base, thus setting the table for Plouffe’s game-tying RBI single.

The third botched play and probably most mind-numbingly frustrating of the night came at the hands of first baseman Nick Swisher as Dozier, again, found himself reaching safely on an error when Swisher couldn’t hold onto a routine throw across the diamond from Chisenhall. The throw was neither high nor off-line and clearly a catch that Swisher makes a hundred times with ease.

Indians defense hasn’t been talked about much this season, but it has struggled just as much as the bullpen this season, if not more. And like the bullpen, the issues have cropped up amongst players that normally would be considered sound defensive executors. Of course guys like Chisenhall and Carlos Santana may have their gaffes from time to time, but overall the Indians’ defense appeared to be a strength on the team before the season started.

There are no acceptable excuses or explanations as to why the defense played as badly as it did on Friday night. They need to execute better. Simple as that.

Quote of the Game:

“When you give guys extra outs, they turn them into runs,” – Lonnie Chisenhall on the Tribe’s errors.

Up Next: Indians vs. Twins @ Target Field. First pitch at 7:10pm ET.

Thankfully despite all the frustration of Friday night’s game, the Indians didn’t lose any ground in the division race as Detroit fell 1-0 in a two-hit shutout effort by Royals pitching. So, the Tribe will try to shake off the loss and get the second half going in the win column as Corey Kluber will take to the mound against Kevin Correia.

Kluber was brilliant in his last start pitching seven and two-thirds innings of shutout ball to pick up his seventh win of the year. In two starts against the Twins this season, Kluber is 1-1 despite pitching only five and two thirds innings and allowing three runs in each start.

Correia is having an okay season, but has struggled as of late going 2-3 with a 5.05 ERA in his last ten starts while allowing three or more runs in seven of them. The right-hander has only made one start against Cleveland this season and took the loss after giving up four runs in five innings.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

July 21, 2013 - 8:39 AM EDT
I totally agree with Adam and was begging Tito to bring in Hill to intentionally walk Mauer and then pitch to Morneau. Instead he left Smith in and it backfired.

So last night he gets it right and brings in Hill to face Mauer and Morneau to start the inning. Hill walks Mauer on four pitches and gives up a single to Morneau. Throw in an error by Chiz, a bloop single, and a bobble by Kipnis and there goes the ballgame.

Hill has an ERA of 6.75 while facing mostly left-handed batters. A case can be made that he's the worst relief pitcher in baseball. Why is he still on the team? Two reasons - Hagadone and Barnes. At this point I say just release him and not even have a lefty in the pen.
July 20, 2013 - 12:02 PM EDT
Got to agree w you Adam. I watched Boche mix and match last night as the Giants shut out the Dbacks. 8th inning 3 batters, 3 pitchers, runners stranded, shutout intact. Smith is NOT the guy to pitch to Mauer w RISP period. Swisher and Cabrera out of focus, not sharp, what else is new. Great performance by Kazmir. He has to be the comeback story of the year in the A.L.
July 20, 2013 - 10:41 AM EDT
As bad as the defense was, how about throwing a little blame Tito's way for not even thinking about going to Hill to face Mauer with a runner on third? I am sick of this "he's the setupman so the 8th inning is his no matter what!" nonsense. Smith has a 6.11 FIP when facing lefties this year, Hill isn't great sitting at 4.21 but he's been much better over his last 10 or so outings, and is CERTAINLY a better candidate to get a lefty out than Smith.

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