Team's get hot. You have to deal with it. Remember that schedule we touted so much? How incredibly easy it looked compared to the first half schedule?
That's all well and good, but you know you are going to run into some teams that you are supposed to beat that may be playing good enough ball. It happens, which is what is happening now in facing the Mariners. Are the Indians playing well? Not particularly, but they aren't playing horribly. They're a better team than Seattle. They're just not playing better right now.
You just have to hope at some point the Indians can make up for these losses in another way. If not, then we know what will happen.
INDIANS - 3 | MARINERS - 4
W: Erasmo Ramirez (1-0)
L: Zach McAllister (4-6)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (23)
Not a sharp Zach McAllister in his return to a major league mound. But that can be expected with his long layoff and few rehab outings.
Still, it wasn't a bad Zach McAllister. One good enough to get through five innings with only three earned runs. If not for some shaky defense, maybe he could have thrown less pitches, and he definitely wouldn't have surrendered that fourth run.
Which was ultimately and unfortunately the difference in the game.
All of a sudden now, defense is an issue. Does that mean that the Indians need defensive help and are a bad defensive team? No, not really. They're not the best, but this little recent string here has just caused some concern. It's more inconsistency than anything. A lack of...what's the word...awareness if you will. Time for this team to start playing with their heads up and not int he sand.
"Obviously, we need to win tomorrow," Indians manager Terry Francona said following Tuesday's loss. "But we need to get back home, get out there and get some early work in, because we're not catching the ball very well."
Not in the least bit. It's been two main infielders too, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis. Chisenhall has been an error machine lately, but that shouldn't shock anyone based off what he's done this season both in Cleveland and in Columbus.
Kipnis' inconsistencies are a little surprising though. He switched his glove and everything. Still, while Chiz's errors didn't come back to haunt the team like Kipnis' did, it made McAllister's job tougher.
"I had to [work], but that's part of the game," McAllister said. "It's our job to pick up the position players when they don't make the plays, but we have all the trust in them that they're going to pick us up later on."
Tito credited Z-Mac for staying with it and not only that, throwing as many pitches as he did in his first game back just to get through five innings. That looked bleak for awhile, but McAllister pushed through, which had to be huge at the time for them to get him that far in the game given what he was dealing with.
Still, the sharpness wasn't there, even though he made some good pitches, he left a lot of others around the zone. Maybe if another team wasn't in the zone like Seattle was, that the results may have been different, but the way the Mariners are playing, a lot of those pitches looked incredibly delicious to them.
As for the offense, it was better than the previous night, but still a little concerning because 2/3rds of the runs came from Yan Gomes' home run. The other one came in the first inning off a Asdrubal Cabrera single. Every other opportunity was squandered with more than enough legitimate chances to put some runs up. The third, fifth and sixth innings were all terrible displays of hitting with chances, with double plays to erase leadoff hits in the fifth and sixth.
Then even in the ninth against Seattle's sometimes good, sometimes rocky closer Tom Wilhelmsen, the first two on via singles and Gomes comes up and kills that rally with a double play, and not one that even scores a run, but one that pegged Stubbs at home and Aviles at second. Most of that was on Stubbs for getting caught up at third and not making a decision, but it just was a big mess from the get-go. Three double plays in a game is not acceptable. You can't win like that.
The Indians need to pull it together. Seattle is playing good ball right now, but they have to find a way to win the finale and salvage this series and just get back home and put this nightmare of a road trip off the break to an end.
The double-error first inning was a little worrisome, but credit to McAllister for getting out of that one, it could have gone from bad to worse. Chisenhall's error was a little annoying, but if you are going to make an error, at least make it one that doesn't advance anyone and is in foul territory. Those can still come back to bite you, but Kipnis' was bad enough. Whatever happened on the Reynolds play was bad, but technically not an error.
As bad as the defense seemed to be at times last night, Jason Kipnis made up for his earlier gaff and made an excellent throw in the third inning on a Kyle Seager single to right field to peg Kendry Morales at home. Credit Swisher for getting rid of it quickly, Kipnis for the strong throw, and Gomes for the quick tag. You can also credit Morales for stopping strangely right in front of the plate on his slide. Hey, you take it.
Asdrubal Cabrera was 2-for-4 with a run batted in. Told you he was going to start getting it going. They're starting to fall now for him.
Mark Reynolds looked a little more alive with a single and a walk. Only second time he's been on base twice since June 28th.
The offense as a whole as we said was better, with a lot of guys getting in on the action. Everyone that started except for Carlos Santana had a hit. They just didn't get enough hits when it mattered in terms of knocking someone in.
Cedit needs to be given tot he bullpen because not enough has been due to their struggles. Matt Albers with two brilliant scoreless innings and Cody Allen pitching a scoreless eighth was really needed to keep the team in the game. Shame the offense couldn't figure it out in time.
To make room for McAllister on the roster, the Indians have finally cut down on their larger bullpen by optioning CC Lee back down to Columbus. It ends a long-awaited stint for Lee as he made his major league debut. He did not pitch all that much, but I think he left a good impression, at least one that says he's close to being ready to contribute at this level.
"He said, 'I'm not sure I'm ready,'" Francona said. "I was like, 'Whoa.' He said, 'No, I just mean arm slot, coming back from [right elbow] surgery, being consistent.' I said, 'OK, because I think you can help us.' His stuff was filthy."
You could see those flashes, but you could also see those inconsistencies just in the small sample size of Lee. He would throw a few balls in a row and you'd be wondering when he'd throw a strike, and then all of a sudden pop pop pop the guy is heading back to the dugout. So you can see what he means about having that consistency down, but you can also see that he's going to be something special when he gets it back.
And take in mind, he really is just a year removed from that surgery, so the progress he is making is quite amazing. He'll be back up soon and contributing. If anything, he could be that guy the Indians are looking for to help them down the stretch in that pen if he can get down and get his consistency back in Columbus in the next month.
Mark Reynolds took a bad hop last night in the first inning defensively that let the first run in. It wasn't an easy play, but it seemed to be one you should make. I'll say it all the time if it happens, but a guy who is not producing offensively certainly better not be costing the team defensively. Jack Hannahan was a guy who didn't always produce, but he would save a lot of runs with his defense.
Last night, whether or not it was a rightful error, Reynolds technically gave up a run with his defense. And for a guy who has three hits since the start of July, that really is not good.
"Whatever has happened, has happened," Francona said. "Once he takes that one good swing, once he gets back on that where he feels good, he'll be every bit as dangerous as he ever was. Maybe his batting average is a little lower than he'd like, but that won't matter once he gets hot."
Tito seems to believe that Reynolds has a streak left in him, and they're just kind of hoping at some point he busts out of it by playing him here and there where they can. I too believe that this isn't the end of Reynolds. He is what he is, a guy who strikes out a lot. But history says there is something left in there for Reynolds and he has a lot more production left in him in these last two and half months left of season.
"We're dying for him to get hot," Francona said. "I've kept saying all along that we know there's a streak in there. He knows it. We know it. It's just the sooner it happens, the better for all of us. You get stuck sometimes, because we're trying to win and I want to give him enough at-bats to get him hot."
You know how they say, it's going to get worse before it gets better? Well, we are seeing the worse part of this. Hopefully the saying rings true and it gets better for Reynolds, because there is nothing lower than what he is at right now. He's scuffling in the worst way. He's bordered on unusable.
If Francona had put anyone other than Asdrubal Cabrera into the cleanup spot, he'd had have to have found a new spot for Cabrera. So it makes sense that he put Cabrera where he did. Tito says he considered Carlos Santana though for the spot when removing Swisher from it.
"I think he's a good hitter wherever you hit him," Francona said of Santana. "A guy that's catching and hitting cleanup, you're asking a lot. Catching is first. So then when you flip around and put a guy cleanup, you're kind of going against what you're saying. There's been times we've hit him cleanup out of necessity. There's been times we've hit him cleanup when he's been [the designated hitter]. But when he's catching, I'd prefer to hit him down farther."
To me, the way Carlos has been hitting outside that spot, I wouldn't put him back there. He's been really good and stabilizing that lower half of the lineup because he's either seeing pitches to hit, or ones that he knows he's going to lay off. It has made him more of a dangerous hitter because he has such great plate discipline.
To update yesterday's International signing news, Leando Gonzalez signed for just under $1 million for $950K. At 19 he's already 6'3, 205 according to MLB.com. They have roughly less than half of the pool money used up since the July 2nd signing period.
Corey Kluber is going to start as expected this weekend against the Rangers. Kluber completed his bullpen side session successful yesterday and had no issues.
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.