Benjamin Franklin once said that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". That's what it feels like to watch an Indians game right now. They lost again tonight because they didn't score runs and the other team cashed in on their opportunities. Sure, the Indians had their backs against the wall facing Felix Hernandez and sending Roberto Hernandez to the mound. But, that doesn't matter. What matters is that they lost again and it's getting really, really old. Tonight's margin of defeat was four in a 5-1 loss.
While the Indians squandered a couple chances against Felix Hernandez through the first three innings, Roberto Hernandez was pitching well. The Indians got runners on first and second in the first inning on singles from Jason Kipnis and Shin-Soo Choo. Carlos Santana hit into a double play. In the second, Casey Kotchman singled with one out but never moved. In the third, Kipnis singled for the second time in the game but was erased on a double play ball. Meanwhile, Roberto Hernandez took a no hitter into the fifth inning.
Of course, the hit that ended the no hitter was a solo home run from Eric Thames on a hanging change up. The Mariners moved ahead 1-0, but Hernandez continued to go pitch-for-pitch with King Felix. His offense finally helped him in the seventh.
The Indians strung together three straight singles* in the seventh to plate a run. With one out, Santana and Brantley reached on sharp singles on mistakes from Hernandez. Kotchman followed with a hard ground ball to short that hit the lip of the grass and skipped right past Roger Dorn, er, Brendan Ryan. Hernandez threw behind Brantley at second and wound up launching the ball into center field. Brantley scampered to third. With Brent Lillibridge at the plate, Manny Acta called for the suicide squeeze. Lillibridge showed bunt, but pulled it back on a slider that was in the other batter's box. With no effort at the ball, the Mariners got Brantley caught in a rundown and tagged him out. Lillibridge struck out.
In the seventh, Rob Hernandez walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single off the top of Kotchman's glove to put runners on first and third. John Jaso dug out a decent pitch, a sinker down and away, and hit it deep to the left center warning track and then over the wall for a ground rule double. Acta had seen enough and went to Esmil Rogers. Allow me to go on a rant. I think I've earned that right having to watch all of this terrible baseball to write these recaps.
The writing is on the wall for Acta's job. He knows it. Perhaps he knows something that we don't know. Maybe he's been told that he's a lame duck skipper. Roberto Hernandez was at 72 pitches when he was pulled from the game. Like it or not, he will be an integral part of the Indians rotation in 2013. That's a spot where you leave Hernandez out there to try and get through the inning with minimal damage. You give him a chance to pitch through adversity. You give him a chance to build up his confidence. But, no. Acta was worried about his win-loss record in order to look better when he's trying to find a new job after this season. Instead of thinking about the team's future, he, selfishly, went to Rogers who had barely had any time to warm up. For whatever reason, Acta felt that Rogers was a better matchup against Jesus Montero than Hernandez was, even though Hernandez got him to hit into a double play and weakly pop up during the game.
Rogers gave up a monster three-run homer to Montero. I'm sorry, but Manny Acta deserved that. Roberto Hernandez did not. He deserved the chance to get through the inning. He earned it. He pitched very well in just his second start. -end rant-
The Indians were down 5-1 at that point and tried to rally back in the eighth. Ryan olĂ©d another ball at short and Jack Hannahan reached to lead off the inning. Ezequiel Carrera walked. Kipnis lofted a lazy fly ball to center for the first out, Cabrera hit a towering fly ball to right that he watched like it was 25 rows deep, but it died on the warning track for the second out. Choo was retired on a great play by Dustin Ackley.
Chris Seddon pitched a scoreless ninth. Lucas Luetge picked up the four-out save by getting the final out in the eighth and going through the ninth.
WIth the loss, the Indians fall to 54-69. The Mariners improve to 60-64. Roberto Hernandez falls to 0-2. Felix Hernandez improves to 12-5. Lucas Luetge records save #2.
Stat of the Night: The Indians are now 4-16 in August. In case you're not mathematically inclined, that means their win percentage for the month is .200.
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis continued swinging a good stick in this series with a couple of singles off Felix Hernandez. That's not an easy guy to get hits off of.
Tomorrow's Game: This road trip mercifully ends tomorrow with a 3:40 game. Zach McAllister takes on Hisashi Iwakuma.