Shaw's struggles continue; Indians fall to Detroit, 6-4
Bauer tames Tigers, but Tribe swept out of Motown in series finale
DETROIT—If Saturday was a nightmare for Bryan Shaw, Sunday became a horrific tragedy.
Leading 3-2 in the seventh, the roar of the Tigers lineup became too much for both Shaw (5-5, 2.65 ERA) and the Indians for the second straight day. Second baseman Ian Kinsler took a 3-1 cutter from the Tribe right-hander and slammed it over the wall in left field, giving Detroit a lead they wouldn’t waiver.
Backed by more timely hits, the Tigers swept Cleveland out of Motown in the series finale, by a 6-4 defeat at Comerica Park.
“It definitely hurts, there’s no doubt,” Jason Giambi said. “You have to tip your cap to Detroit. They got big hits when they needed them. We had opportunities to win two games, but we’re going to win as a team and we’re going to lose as a team. That’s a good ball club over there.”
Scoring four runs on 10 hits, the Tribe had chances to score all afternoon leaving 12 left on base. With the season series now over, Detroit edges the Wahoos going 11-8 on the year against them having won seven of the final eight matchups.
“They hurt a lot, but now they’re over,” manager Terry Francona said.
“You never want to get swept, especially being in close games and having a chance,” Indians starter Trevor Bauer said. “It sucks.”
Cruising through the first three innings, Bauer ran into trouble in the fourth from the biggest Cleveland killer of them all: J.D. Martinez.
The Detroit left fielder parked a solo homer over the 420-foot wall in deep center to give Motor City the early one run lead. For Martinez, it was his 22nd long ball of the season and seventh against Tribe pitching.
“They’re just really good hitters,” Bauer said. “If you know how to go out there and attack them, you can work through it.”
And that’s exactly what the right-hander did, going a solid five innings in the ballgame giving up just two runs (one earned) on six hits.
“I think I’ve done a fairly good job of handling them, Bauer said. “They haven’t done a whole lot of damage against me, but today it just worked out in their favor.”
Offensively, Tribe bats would give their starter some breathing room in the sixth against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. With the game knotted at 1-1, Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs as manager Brad Ausmus went to his bullpen for southpaw Blaine Hardy.
The move would work in the Tribe’s favor, as shortstop Jose Ramirez legged out an RBI infield single to put his team up by one before Hardy hit Michael Brantley with a pitch to put them up, 3-1. Both runs were charged to Verlander, who went 5 2/3 innings Sunday, yielding three earned runs while walking three and striking out six.
Like the playoff team they are, Detroit wouldn’t give in however, going onto score five huge runs over their final three innings. After the clutch homer by Kinsler, the Tigers tacked on two runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.
Rookie reliever C.C. Lee allowed two runs to score in the his 1/3 of an inning Sunday, even bringing a run home for Detroit throwing a wild pitch on an intentional walk to Kinsler.
“Unfortunately it kind of sailed on him a little bit,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “That’s always in the back of your head that it could happen. I feel bad for him, that’s not a big confidence booster for him, but he’s got to learn from it.”
“That was obviously a huge play,” Francona said. “That really made it difficult.”
The road to a potential postseason spot has also become more blurry, despite Cleveland (76-72) staying a full five games out of the wild card race.
“We not giving ourselves much room for error,” Giambi said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen and we have to deal with what’s in front of us. We just have to play to win every night and see what the universe has in store for us.”
The Indians will play seven games against two sub-500 teams in Houston and Minnesota before heading back home for a huge series with the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 22.
“We have to go to Houston and gather ourselves in a hurry and continue to play,” Francona said. “We did some really good things, they just came back twice and beat us late and that hurts. The only alternative is to show up tomorrow and win.”
Up next for Indians: The Tribe heads south to open up a four-game series with the Houston Astros beginning Monday night. Zach McAllister (3-6, 5.97 ERA) makes a spot start for Cleveland opposite of right-hander Brad Peacock (4-8, 4.80 ERA) in the series opener at 8:10 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I agree with the need to address the bullpen this offseason- I wasn't really convinced that Shaw was a set-up guy when the season started and only gave it a chance a few months in because he did so well to start the season, but his lack of command is catching up to him, which is why he seems to be better as a 6th-7th inning guy. In some ways, he reminds me of David Riske- stuff is solid, above-average, but not earth-shattering, he has issues with command, and he gives up a good number of HRs.
Allen has had similar issues with command, and while I might currently give him the lead for the closer's role in 2015, I do not anoint him as the closer for the next five years- he's blown too many leads against guys he should be handling (that includes J.D. Martinez, who was doing absolutely nothing before this year, and I do think his production will fall off to some extent at least when more teams pay attention to him in 2015). Allen and Shaw both must get ahead in the count, which has been a struggle for both, especially of late; they are probably the two biggest reasons why this team has blown so many saves/late leads. They are also the main reason why the Indians didn't win the season series with the Tigers- there were three games we would have won this month, and probably two to three others this year that we could have won- Imagine the Indians winning 11-14 games against the Tigers this season and how our playoff chances would be- we'd either lead the division or wild card under that scenario.
If we clean up some of this bullpen mess and upgrade the offense, we should be able to win the season series with the Tigers next year- we should get better based on our youth- the Tigers would have to do it largely via FA and trades, since most of that team is not young, and many are in their primes about to come out of that prime age group (namely Cabrera and V. Martinez, provided V. Martinez is even in Detroit next season).
As for A. Miller, I'm not sure the Indians would pay that much, and especially when Hagadone has been very solid as the Indians were hoping he'd be when they transitioned him to the bullpen. He has a very similar profile to Miller, is younger (I believe), and costs much less. Unless you want to try to replace Rzepczynski (doubt you're replacing Crockett unless he's trade bait, which wouldn't be a good move in my opinion), I don't see Miller being the greatest option with the limited funds we have available. Not unless you think Miller would be a better option at closer than Allen, but being he has no more closer experience than Hagadone, you'd be better off allowing Hagadone some save options and see if he is a better internal closing option than Allen long term rather than paying Miller- Miller and Hagadone are very similar, just that Hagadone has far less experience, which he'll only gain by playing him.
As for Kipnis, quite honestly, it baffles me why Francona continues to put him 5th-6th in the lineup every night. Who said Jason Kipnis was a middle-of-the-order hitter? The only possible evidence was that 6-week stretch in June to mid-July 2013 where Kipnis had a 1218 OPS. Since then, Kipnis hasn't had an 800 OPS in any month, and at least four of those months were not hampered by an oblique injury (July-Sept 2013, April 2014, though I do think Kipnis is just not that good of a hitter- the injury likely has little to anything to do with his falloff in performance).
For all the knocking Chisenhall got for his lack of production up until this year and even his second-half dropoff, realize that Chisenhall put together 12 good weeks; Kipnis has put together 6 good weeks at best. Combine that with the fact that Chisenhall has shown he can hit lefties and Kipnis never has, and the fact Lonnie is about to be 26 versus Kipnis being 28, about to be 29, I think, and all indications point to Chisenhall having the better bat and deserving to hit in the 5 or 6 hole, not Kipnis.
Gomes is obvious- I'd take his bat over Kipnis' against LHP OR RHP any day- he also should be batting ahead of Kipnis always. I'd put Murphy ahead of Kipnis, and I'd even put Raburn ahead of him- at least Raburn has a chance to hit the ball out. Even the "kids": Perez, Walters, Holt (and of course, Ramirez) have put up as good, and often, better at-bats than Kipnis. Thus, I'd be willing to put Kipnis 9th and allow him to use his one useful tool, his speed, to get on base for Bourn and the top of the lineup- it may help Bourn to focus more on making contact- could even play more hit and run and generate some offense.
If Bourn does get traded this offseason, and I do think there is a reasonable chance of that, you could either put Kipnis (who probably will be here next year, though I would prefer trading him to either Ramirez or Chisenhall) in the leadoff spot (if Kipnis can cut the strikeout rate down and boost the walk rate) or keep him in the 9 hole and have someone like Holt take over the leadoff spot.
Really, Francona's insistence of having Kipnis in the middle of that order has likely cost the Indians some games, including against the Tigers. Bunching together your best hitters will likely lead to an extra one to two runs per game because the probability goes up you come up with key hits with RISP more often, leading to extra runs- a few of those would have likely made all of the difference against the Tigers and a few other games this year (the suspended Royals' game, the loss to the Astros the other night, are just a few other examples- I know there are more examples where the Indians have lost by one or two runs where an extra run or two turns that loss into a victory).
Kipnis should NEVER be in the heart of that order for as long as he is here unless he can hit at the level Chisenhall did for the first half of this season for at least as long as Chisenhall did- that's the only way I even consider him in the middle of the order again. His skillset throughout virtually all of his career does not portend to him being a middle of the order hitter- putting him there just hampers the offense and costs us critical runs that has likely led to us losing some critical games in 2014 and may be the biggest reason why the Indians probably don't make the postseason in 2014 (I'll be happy to be wrong on that and haven't counted them out yet, but the odds are stacked against them- they need to win out or close to it AND get help- long odds, but not impossible).
I agree, with the notion of adding another RP, but I think Andrew Miller costs too much. I'm guessing he gets at least 2/$10M to 2/$12, think think that might be too rich for the Tribe. I'd love to see them add a cheap qlty CL and move Cody Allen back to the setup role he dominated in.
Not sure if he's worth a look, but I've heard Addison Reed (Dbax) might be available. Maybe the Tribe could swing a deal to get Mark Trumbo and Reed from the Dbax.
1. Find good SP options that you can stash in AAA. I would like one vet and a couple of guys that are in no mans land. Randall Delgado and Erasmo Ramirez would be names for example
2. If the Indians decide they need a bullpen guy then go after Andrew Miller. As I said before, not convinced they need one but one more good one won't hurt things. He would let the Indians set up the pen where they have definition and then push down Shaw, Atchison to where they should be.
3. Find a place for Jesus Aguilar. No, I'm not expecting Manny Ramirez type stats but if he could be Paul Sorrento from the right hand side then you need him in the lineup to give tremendous balance.
4. Find out what the issues were with Kipnis and make sure they are resolved going forward. I'm sorry, he's been so bad at the plate and in the field that he should've been benched, IMO.
5. Make sure you evaluate your team thoroughly. Some have told me for example that they think James Ramsey can be a guy that can hit .270, 15-70 next year. if this is indeed the case then I see no reason why you should waste money and assets picking up guys that you already have on the team. Yes, I know the average fan wants to talk about trades and free agents but if you're confident in your evaluation then go with the guys you feel can get it done
6. Please have a sit down with Tito about his stubbornness and lack of objectivity. Tito has cost this team many games because he stays with vets entirely too long when they aren't productive. He shows favorites(please don't dispute this because plenty of examples). Lineup construction is terrible and refusal to integrate or give young players a chance to prove themselves is unacceptable. I wouldn't be confrontational about it these issues need to be resolved
not so sure we can't fill the role of 8th or closer internally. If they do go outside though I would target Andrew Miller. If they stay in house then Adams, Armstrong and Lee should be under consideration. I think McAllister throwing 98 mph for one inning is perfect for this role too.
I think the Indians offensive issues from the right hand side can be dealt with internally. I know you've said that Aguilar is a right handed Sorrento and if that's the the case then he is PERFECT for this team. The bigger issues are if Swisher will be healthy, can Kipnis regain form and where to play Aguilar.
I propose this lineup for you:
McAllister is out of options and IMO, isn't a starter but did impress with the awesome fastball he has for one inning. You can have a bullpen of McAllister, Allen, Miller, Adams/Lee, Crockett, Hagadone, Rzepcyznski(who hasn't really done anything for me), Shaw and Atchison as middle inning guys where they should be
Of course they can go outside the org but not so sure you can do much better if you're convinced that Aguilar is going to be a 20+ HR guy
While the offense is certainly to blame, the bullpen also gets some too. They are not nailing down those late inning leads. Indians have a 62% save conversation rate on the season....which is 26th in all of baseball. While I know that there is a lot more to blown saves and I myself hate the stat, it does in some ways represent an issue with this team and that is they need another late inning reliever. Finding a setup man or closer on the cheap to me is a need this offseason.
Maybe the manager needs changing. Going through the Red Sox syndrome. And how long does Sandy Alomar wait around for his opportunity ? My bet is not too much longer.
Insofar as the fan base is concerned, I just don't know. After the last 2 years of fighting for a playoff spot, you would have thought there would be more interest. Just don't understand.
I agree that Francona is extremely reluctant to give up on his veterans. Jose Ramirez is a much better shortstop than Cabrera, both offensively and defensively, but if Cabrera had not been traded he'd still be starting and Jose would be chilling out with Lindor right now.
If our starting pitching was as good in the first half as it has been in the second, we'd be in first place right now. That bodes very well for next season.
And next year, let's stop throwing thigh-high fastballs on the outside corner to J.D. Martinez. Stick with low breaking balls and high heat up around the letters. What part of seven home runs don't they get?
The Indians could be 1/2 game out first place today if they took care of business in the 4 games they blew against the Tigers.
If for some reason the Indians were able to trade for Stanton for next year, the fans still would not show up. So Congratulations Cleveland in leading the way in being last in attendance. I bet Tampa Bay is happy that Cleveland took there position.
The Indians went 1-6 against the Tigers over the past two weeks and four of those losses came in excruciating fashion blowing 7th, 8th and 9th run leads on a home run ball and then a tie in extra innings. If they just win two of those games things are much different today. Crazy.
Guys like Aguilar, Ramirez(before Cabby got hurt), Adams and others don't get a fair chance because he wants to ride it out with veterans who suck. Sorry not buying the fact he didn't have any choices. Why is Kipnis batting 5th, why is Chris Gimenez, Raburn, Giambi, Aviles playing before Aguilar. Why keep giving the ball to a struggling Bryan Shaw instead of taking a chance on Adams who throws 100mph.
This is crap guys and you guys should be ashamed for any suggesting or saying the things you're saying
Tigers 83 - 66
Indians 76 - 72
With the games they blew
Tigers 79 - 70
This the reason why it hurts so bad. So close but yet so far. Again maybe not.
The Indians were 4-15 last, they improved by 4 games at 8-11.
Yup - totally agree. As to Francona - I think he road the horses he had as long as they would run. We can say he he wore them out - but - what was the choice. IMO now it is time to minimize the wear and tear to avoid any long term damage.
I think it is also time to see more of Aquilar and others - especially Walters.
Some name players need to move to make room for some right handed balance.