Pitching Shaky As Tribe Loses To White Sox 10-6
Four games is hardly enough to evaluate how a team will play for an entire 162 game season, but for Indians fans who thought that their team could repeat their early success last season and take off strong in 2012, that doesn’t matter. The Tribe are off to a 1-4 start, and many wonder if they would be at 1-5 had their Tuesday night game not been called off due to adverse weather conditions (it was cold, but no precipitation fell in Downtown Cleveland that night.) On Wednesday afternoon, the Indians and White Sox squared off at noon, and while the Tribe showed the few fans that made the trek to Progressive Field some offense for once, their pitching fell apart and coughed up 5 runs in the top half of the 6 th inning turning a 5-4 White Sox lead into a 10-4 White Sox lead. While the Tribe would respond in the 7 th, it was not enough and the Indians now find themselves just a half game above the last place Twins who are winless at 0-4.
For the Tribe, things got off to a rocky start as starter Justin Masterson (L, 0-1, 2.77) gave up four runs in the first inning to put the Tribe in a hole early. He wasn’t responsible for all of those runs though as a rare fielding error by third baseman Jack Hannahan eventually resulted in one of them, and first baseman Casey Kotchman bobbled a throw from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth inning that resulted in another unearned run. Overall, Masterson allowed 5 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits, walked one and struck out two in his 5 innings of work. It was a performance that made you wonder if this was the same guy who sat down 10 Blue Jays last Thursday via punch-out and held them to 1 run on 2 hits in his 8 innings of work.
The Indians’ offense showed up at times today, though the team was still 1-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners in the loss. They set season highs with 6 runs and 10 hits, but two of those hits were home runs (a solo shot by DH Travis Hafner in the 4 th and a 2-run shot by LF Shelley Duncan in the 7 th) and another was a 2-run single by Hafner. Centerfielder Michael Brantley, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, catcher Carlos Santana and second-baseman Jason Kipnis all went hitless in the game while Duncan had 3, Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera and Hannahan all had 2 and Kotchman had 1 hit in the contest. If the Indians are going to win games, they need the entire offense to fire at once, and not just one or two guys per game. Today marked the first time this season that more than one player had 2 or more hits on the club, not a very promising statistic for a team that resides in a division with the likes of Detroit and an emerging Kansas City team.
While the Tribe did close the gap to one run in the 5 th, their bullpen quickly let the game get out of hand in the 6 th as Dave Wheeler gave up a 2-run shot to the Alejandro De Aza and Rafael Perez allowed a 3-run blast by A.J. Pierzynski to put the game out of reach. Overall, the Tribe’s pitching staff currently sits 11 th in the American League with a 1-4 record and a combined ERA of 4.42. They have allowed 31 runs in five games and only Boston with 38 has allowed more. Their starting rotation looked good in their first three games with Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe all putting up great numbers in their first starts of the season, but Josh Tomlin had a rough outing on Monday and Wednesday will likely be a day Masterson would like to forget as well. The Indians’ bullpen has been terrible in tight games and they are not giving the club a chance to win when they give up 5 runs in one inning as the Indians simply do not have the offense right now to make up that kind of deficit.
The Indians will hit the road to play a three-game series in Kansas City this weekend. The Royals have started the season strong and are sitting at 3-2. Their pitching will be tough to hit as they have allowed just 18 runs over the past five games and their staff has a combined 2.63 ERA to show for it. The Tribe will send Derek Lowe to the mound on Friday night to face Luke Hochevar who will go for the Royals. The postponement of Tuesday’s game will shake up the Tribe’s rotation a bit, and Tomlin will go to the bullpen as an extra arm until he makes his next start on April 19 th in Seattle. Ubaldo Jimenez will now have to wait until Sunday to pitch as the postponement means he has to sit out Saturday due to his current 5 game suspension handed down by MLB after he hit former Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki in a Cactus League game on April 1st.
By Robert Gonzalez