You win some, you lose some. You win more, you lose more. You are forced to play a game having lost your starter at 1 in the morning, you.... Yeah I got nothing there.
What another annoying weekend. The Indians came away with a big win on Saturday, thanks in part to the gem from some dude that I'm going to continue to ignore (it helps when he pitches on weekends!), but it really felt like that was a two games series with the Rays always having a game in their favor.
RAYS - 11 | INDIANS - 3
W: Jeremy Hellickson (3-2)
L: Zach McAllister (4-5)
Sunday was just not the Cleveland Indians day. From the first inning it was a uphill climb. They were in this game and then they weren't. Any time they made an effort to get into it or make it a game, something went wrong.
The guy who epitomized that was their starting pitcher, Zach McAllister.
It was his worst outing of the season. It was not horrible, but McAllister battled. He struggled with his command like we have not seen him do in 2013 and he found no help when he needed it from the other outlying factors that could have helped him out.
The first inning could have been over after a Evan Longoria ground ball to third, but Mark Reynolds clutched and could only get one. What followed was a James Loney double off the glove of Michael Bourn. Two close plays, two runs scored, the first of many small instances that the game was not kind to Z-Mac.
The third was equally frustrating as McAllister had a runner on second and two outs with Longoria again up at the plate. A 2-2 pitch on the outside corner was called a ball by umpire Bill Welke. It was one of the many puzzling calls the umpire behind the dish made yesterday and it extended the at-bat for Longoria, who came back a pitch later and shot a ball the other way for a run-scoring single.
The fourth inning, a Sam Fuld grounder down the right field line led off the inning. The ball caught a scampering bat boy and deadened enough for the speedy Fuld to round second and get into third safely. Had it hit off the wall, Stubbs would have reached it in time to hold Fuld to a double. The defense would have been in a different position on the following at-bat and McAllister may have exited that frame with no damage.
"I felt [like] every inning I was battling out of a jam, which is never a good feeling as a pitcher. But today was one of those days where it was just a battle for me, and I came up short."
Either way, three instances in which McAllister had no help from his defense, the umpires, or the elements.
But guess what? McAllister couldn't help himself either. He continually put himself in those situation with four walks, and many 3-2, or hitter-friendly counts that the Rays were able to take advantage of. Point being, while he didn't get any help, he wasn't sharp.
"I fell behind hitters and put guys on base, and when you do that, things happen," he said. "You give up runs, and they are able to have a little bit of an advantage."
You need to hand it to him for almost being able to work around his issues and keep his team in the game as much as he could. That's what good pitchers can do. Even in games he didn't have the sharpest command, he battled and willed and had the elements gone his way, we may be talking about a gritty performance in the other way.
Instead, he finished short of five innings and broke his streak of starts with three runs or less surrendered. All good streaks must come to an end.
I would even say that the offense mirrored Zach McAllister in that they had opportunities, but just had things not go quite right for them at several junctures. Jeremy Hellickson only went five innings and while he didn't walk anyone, he was very hittable.
The hits though were scattered and while the fourth was a productive inning, the Indians couldn't build on that.
So it was very much just a game that the Indians could not get with, in all aspects. Maybe it is the exhaustion from the carryover of that debacle on Friday. Even Mark Reynold said the team is running on fumes.
"It's been tough," Reynolds said. "We're definitely running on fumes, two day games in a row after that midnight start. But we'll get on the plane, get some sleep, go to New York and hopefully have some fun up there."
Let's hope so, because the Yankees are not playing the same way from the beginning of the year, and not even the last time we saw them, and the Indians are definitely a better team. So this needs to be one of those series smack dab in the middle of a tough schedule swing that the Indians can go in and take a few from.
The umpire's strike zone was incredibly inconsistent yesterday. Bill Welke was all over the place and more times than not, the Indians ended up on the short-end of that inconsistency with some perplexing strike/ball calls. It got to a point that Terry had to say something, and that resulted in his first ejection as the manager of the Indians. He had a right to gripe tough, because that game could have been a little different early on if Welke had better eyes, as we detailed earlier in McAllister's outing. Francona even noted it in his postgame comments the inconsistency and that is what he went out to tell Welke. Obviously he felt strong enough for it to be a reason to get tossed.
The guy who had the best day at the plate was Carlos Santana. All of his at-bats were good, three hits, with the one out being hit well. He definitely seems to be coming around. It all started with his bunt single in his first at-bat. Remember it is something he's been working on and if teams will play him that way defensively, he might as well go for it when he's in those situations and we need baserunners.
Santana however had a puzzling baserunning gaff in the fourth on the Yan Gomes double to center. With two outs, he should have been blazing around the bases. Yet he ended up on third. He would score on Aviles' single the next at-bat, so it was a moot point, but if Aviles did not have the hit, it would have been an ugly mark on the game.
Both Gomes and Aviles' hits were two-out knocks, which means three more runs scored with two outs. Just keep tallying them up.
Michael Bourn also had a good game, going 2-for-4, but he got thrown out stealing second in the seventh inning. It was right before the four-run outburst in the eighth, so it was still very much a game the Indians could have found their way back into.
Rich Hill is on the struggle bus. Three more runs surrendered, just two outs and his ERA is ballooning up into the 8-range. Something needs to be done with him or time to cut ties.
[RAIN DELAY THEATER]
I had a little mini-rant on Twitter the day after the debacle on Friday night/Saturday morning. It makes no sense to me why the Indians and umpires were so reliant upon the forecast for this weekend. I can understand being fearful of what happens on Saturday and Sunday, but here's the thing that I can't get past.
Both games were day games. You're dealing with a night game here. Why not call it a lost cause can try again the next day and the day after? I understand the forecast looks bad, but as we saw, rain didn't come until later on Saturday and Sunday was gorgeous. To rely simply on a weather forecast is silly. Not only that, to eliminate the starting pitchers, you are asking for both teams to get into some deep trouble with their bullpens. While that didn't happen thanks to some good starting pitching, it certainly could have.
The Indians also said that there was no mutual off day that "met the terms of the collective bargaining agreement" where the Rays could get to Cleveland. I found a few mutual off days, one on August 22nd right when the Indians get home from Los Angeles and the Rays are on their way back home from Baltimore. It could work, but I guess there are CBA stipulations that make that unfeasible or the Rays did not feel like that was acceptable, or the Indians didn't. There also is a "waiver" involved in the mutual off-days that the teams could have picked.
Either way, I find it silly that the game was played. Mark Shapiro and the Indians offered this statement, apologizing to the fans that attended that game and were disappointed.
"For those who were unable to remain at the ballpark, we apologize for the inconvenience of the delays and subsequent restart of the game after midnight. ... We value each and every one of our fans. We want to thank the fans that did stay for some or all of the game for their loyalty, patience and perseverance. Our fans were incredible last night."While we did our best to ensure that those who stayed had a great experience, we realize that the weather-related circumstances from Friday's game presented difficulties for many fans to have a memorable ballpark experience. ... We are always looking to provide our fans the best experience possible at Progressive Field and in the near future reach out to last night's fans to make it right."
The Indians are encouraging people who attended that game to hold onto their ticket stubs. I can't imagine what they're going to do to "make it right" but I can sympathize with the ones that are upset. As someone who can't honestly afford to go to an Indians game this year, if that was my only opportunity to do so, I was robbed. To spend money to go up there, pay for parking, and perhaps food, not to mention the ticket, I would feel really short-changed if THAT was the game that I paid money and more for.
The Indians could have done all the fans right by calling that by the time 11 rolled around and they knew they wouldn't be able to start until midnight at the earliest. 9:00 PM was an acceptable restart. It was stretching it, but for the game not having started, I've sat through worse delays. I know they were dealing with a spotty forecast, but that spotty forecast should have also been the reason that they canceled things that night and tried for another day this weekend. You can't put your full faith in it.
The Indians are a classy organization. Credit to them in that they've said that they feel terrible and even though they're not legally required to make things right because the game was played, they will. This isn't a black eye and you know they will do what is right in this situation, because that's just the way they run things. The way things were handled on Friday though were disappointing and puzzling.
The Esmil Rogers trade was a big part of the offense on this day, with Gomes knocking in a run via the double and Aviles cleaned it up with a two-run single in the fourth inning. Obviously, the Indians made a stellar trade at this juncture, having traded a reliever for two big bench pieces this season. And Gomes' ceiling is so much higher. The Indians have to be satisfied with the swap they made.
Francona is especially appreciative of the energy and way Mike Aviles goes about his game. He says that the plan of attack with playing Aviles is against all the left-handed pitchers and resting certain guys against right-handers. So it's as if Aviles plays less than a regular starter, but much more than regular bench player/utility man.
"What we've tried to do is get him in there against all the lefties and then take advantage of resting guys against certain righties," Francona said. "It's an easy guy to want to play, because he always plays with so much energy. But again, some of his at-bats will come through how other guys are physically.""Having guys like him are a blessing for a manager," Francona said. "When you have a guy on the bench that, when you look down there to get him ready and he's already a step ahead of you and he's doing it willingly, that's a good guy to have on your team."
I think it has also helped that the Indians have been able to keep him there in that position. They've been lucky enough to avoid injuries for an extended period of time and are deep enough to where Aviles can stay in that role and not have to go through a regular starting stint at any point. Even with Chisenhall being sent down, Reynolds moved to third and it has been business as usual, perhaps letting Aviles flourish even more in that role with a part-time DH in Giambi.
And you know Asdrubal Cabrera is seeing a good benefit in that he gets to stay in the lineup days he takes a break from the field. He's only DHed twice, but it's one more time than he did at this juncture last year. His second start didn't come until July 1st last year as it became really difficult to get Cabrera those types of breaks until later in the year. Aviles' flexibility helps so many people.
Earlier in the week it was Shin-Soo Choo returning to Cleveland and this weekend it was Roberto Fausto Hernandez Carmona, whatever.
He didn't get to pitch as his turn in the rotation passed, but he got to visit old teammates and the only ballpark that he could call home before this year. Robbie Carmona summed up his time with Cleveland as "there was some good times and there were some bad times." The best was 2007, of course. After that there wasn't much good.
I hate to turn this into a joke... Eh, who am I kidding, but Masterson's quote was A+ comedy gold. The originator in calling Carmona "Bob" had a great soundbyte.
"My best memory of Bob is that he's just a great dude," said Indians pitcher Justin Masterson. "No matter what you did, for my ability to make fun of him by bringing in three cakes and stuff like that, he just wears it like a champ. He got into a situation that was unfortunate for all, but you go down to his heart and soul, and he's just a quality guy. That's why he was one of my favorite teammates.I remember him eating [the midges]. That was our joke," Masterson said. "It was hurting [Yankees pitcher] Joba [Chamberlain], but [Hernandez] was like, 'I'll just eat some of them. Get out of my way.' So they were actually scared of him, so they didn't get on him as much."
I'm pretty sure he didn't eat the midges... But, that was hilarious.
That debacle on Friday night/Saturday morning was not pretty for the Indians bullpen, from the get-go. Barnes came right in and looked tired. He was completely ambushed and the game was over from there.
The one bright light was Nick Hagadone, who came in an looked way better than anything he's looked the past few times out, both on Friday and the day before against the Reds. That was until he got touched up on Sunday for a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Still, Hagadone is at least getting outs and not walking every hitter he faces that doesn't get a hit off him, which was what he had been doing prior to Friday's outing. The slight improvement? He's making adjustments...
"I had worked on some mechanical adjustments, and I felt really good about them in that outing and how everything was kind of coming together," he said. "I just continued to work on that when I was in Columbus, and I think it's really helped. It's more [about] staying on in the inside of my push-off leg and not letting the weight go backwards, so I can stay on balanced through my delivery," he said. "That just helps me to repeat my delivery every pitch or most pitches, which affects command."
Before Friday, Hagadone had put up this fabulous line of numbers dating back to May 11th against Detroit, spanning a demotion and a promotion: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. Horrible. Completely awful. Against the Reds on the 30th he actually went a clean inning with a strikeout and threw seven of his eight pitches for strikes. He had two more shutout innings on Friday against the Rays, then he kind of lost his footing on Sunday.
Still, it's progress and the Indians need that the way their bullpen is going. They're running out of arms to call up. Matt Capps would have been one of the first guys up, but he's currently dealing with some arm issues and on the disabled list in Columbus, and well... Scott Barnes won't be back anytime soon.
The Indians demoted Barnes to Columbus after he got trashed on Friday. The sad thing is that Barnes seemed to be turning a corner, until he came out looking really sluggish on Friday. That will end your stay quickly and damage any good will you've earned.
On the flip side, it gave someone an opportunity that they've earned, with the promotion of Matt Langwell. The right-hander is already 27 and has been an Indians organization arm for years now. He's been up and down between Columbus and Akron the past few and has put up great numbers this year to earn his big league shot.
"It's great. I was really excited," said Langwell, who's yet to pitch in a Major League game. "I'm just really looking forward to getting out there and getting an inning under my belt."
Langwell made his debut on Sunday, and aside from a home run (with a Rich Hill runner on), looked pretty clean. He got the final out of the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.
The one other arm you may want to keep an eye on is Preston Guilmet. He's the Clippers closer right now and has a 3.18 ERA in 28 innings with 14 saves. He's struck out 33 and walked eight and given up four home runs. He was off to a great start in April, but struggled during the month of May. Guilmet is probably the next younger guy in line for a shot if it comes down to it, unless of course Blake Wood or CC Lee (both on the comeback trail from Tommy John) get to a point where the team can call upon them.
And of course, Brett Myers.
There has been no real update Myers or Chris Perez quite yet. They were evaluated yesterday, but as far as when Myers will resume his rehab assignment and where Perez is at, there has been no real word.
Make sure you catch up on some weekend things, such as the latest Sunday Grazing, where I touch up on the Tom Hamilton fiasco and the great article Adam Burke wrote on the issue as well my weird obsession with bobbleheads. And Bro of the Month voting for May has commenced.
Nino is in full baseball mode here and on The Tribe Daily, his own Indians blog. Don't miss all the fun, photoshopped Indians players, and LOLTribe ridiciulousness.