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Second Thoughts: Game #98 - Tigers 5, Indians 3

Second Thoughts: Game #98 - Tigers 5, Indians 3
July 26, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DET 1 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 8 0
CLE 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 5 2
W: Scherzer (10-5) L: Lowe (8-9) S: Valverde (19)

Starting Pitching

The Line: 6 IP, 8H, 5/4 R/ER. 3BB, 1K, 1GIDP, 1HBP

The Results: 94pitches, 59% strikes, 14GB, 4FB, 1PO, 7LD

The Write-up:  That was a pretty lackluster performance from Derek Lowe. He gave up base runners in bunches and though he only walked three, it felt like more and he had little to no command over his pitches. If you see the batted ball line above, you will note that Lowe yielded 7 line drives. If you look even further, you will note that the Tigers actually ran themselves out of some runs in the 1st and struck out and/or hit into double plays or fielder choices. Suffice to say, the Tigers could have done even more damage than they did.

Now, not all the blame can be laid at Lowe’s feet because Asdrubal Cabrera made back to back errors during the Tigers two-run 2nd inning. Regardless, Lowe didn’t pitch well and didn’t deserve the win. He gets points for minimizing damage, but there was only so much that could be done considering 11 base runners were allowed in just six innings of work.

The Bullpen

The Line: 3IP, 0H, 3BB, 4K

The Results: 67pitches, 61% strikes, 3GB, 2FB, PO, LD

The Write-up:  Another solid night of bullpen work and this time the unusual suspects pitched well and at least gave the Indians a chance. Rogers, Allen and Sipp all yielded a walk, but they avoided giving up any hits and racked up four strikeouts. They kept the Indians in the ballgame, and if they can keep up this performance the Tribe offense should squeak out a few extra wins over the last half  of the season. Sadly, it wasn’t to be last night.

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 5/31, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4BB, 1SB, 1CS

The Results: 3R, 15TB, 9LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 161/257/484

The Write-up: The Indians had the long ball working with a pair of home runs, a pair of long doubles and several hard hit fly balls that were just missed (in particularly Michael Brantley who had two of these). After starting the game with a walk, and getting to 3-1 on Cabrera, the Indians appeared poised to strike back in the bottom of the 1st. Both were erased on a strike’em-out-throw’em-out double play. The Indians wasted scoring opportunities throughout the night, but none sticks out more than Carlos Santana’s at-bat in the 6th. Brantley had doubled thanks to a lost ball in the lights and then looked to capitalize on the good luck by swiping 3rd as Scherzer ignored him. Standing on 3rd with one down, Santana could have easily scratched out a run by making contact, and the Tigers were giving the Indians the run, but he popped out. This would have made it a two-run ballgame and, hopefully, energized an otherwise listless offense.

The Indians inability to push runs across has plagued them all year and last night was just another example of it. The Tribe has the 6th best OBP in the Majors, so there is no shortage of men on base. Yet, they can’t get many of these runners across home plate because of an inability to convert on opportunities like last night. We all remember the several week span where the Tribe consistently failed to score with the bases loaded and this is just more of the same.

The Defense

A pair of back-to-back Cabrera errors in the 2nd led to a two-run inning and neither one was really necessary. The first was a routine grounder by Omar Infante that Cabrera just got lazy on and sent his throw high and wide. That mistake comes from not squaring your feet and shoulders to the target (Kotchman). Instead, he attempted an open-body throw that is much harder to control. The next error was one born out of greed as Cabrera tried to erase Infante when Jackson sent a grounder into the hole. Cabrera tried to make the double play and threw the ball behind Jason Kipnis.

Things weren’t all bad as Jack Hannahan made another impressive play on a slow-roller and Carlos Santana made a terrific pick from an errant Kotchman throw to get the force out at home during a crucial spot in the 5th.

The Takeaways

Last night’s game probably shouldn’t have been won: five hits is rarely going to make you the likely winner, but it could have been. With better defensive support and a more focused offensive approach, the Tribe could have made the two-run loss into a gritty victory. The Indians will now face Justin Verlander with the hope of salvaging a much needed series victory.

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