Covering the Bases: Game 16
Royals 8, Indians 2
FIRST: That’s a nice picture of Indians manager Manny Acta fist-bumping second baseman Jason Kipnis, but Acta did not seem too pleased with Kipnis or shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera following Wednesday’s loss. It’s not that Kipnis or Cabrera cost Cleveland the game, because they didn’t. But they did pair up for a blunder that certainly did nothing to help the Indians’ chances.
In the fifth inning, with a pull shift on for Alex Gordon, the Royals left fielder chopped a pitch toward Cabrera and Kipnis to the right of second base. It was an easy roller to glove — except neither went after it. They both pulled up, stared at one another, and the ball skipped into the outfielder for a single.
Two batters later, Eric Hosmer belted a two-run, two-out homer that put KC up 4-0.
Asked who should’ve fielded the ball, here’s what Acta had to say: “Somebody. It probably looked like Jason was closer to the ball, but that’s not what we preach around here. What we preach around here is you collide going after a ball. You don’t look at each other. We’ve been saying that for three years here. We have ice. We have a training staff here. We don’t look at each other and let a ball drop. Unfortunately, that cost us.”
SECOND: First baseman Casey Kotchman’s woes at the plate continue. In Wednesday’s loss, he went 0-for-3 to drag his dry spell to 0-for-22. His season average has dropped to .140 for the Tribe. It’s still too early to jump ship on Kotchman, who hit .306 last year for the Rays, but it has been a brutally ugly first impression for the slick-fielding first baseman. If this persists into May or June, it will become more of a real issue.
THIRD: Ubaldo Jimenez was “just OK” to use the words of Acta. He survived for six innings, giving up four runs — all on a pair of two-run homers. The Big U walked three and struck out two and his once impressive fastball velocity remained missing in action. More importantly, his fastball command remained spotty. Jimenez said he felt better than his last start, so he had that going for him. It continues to be a work in progress for a pitcher that is a key component to the team’s potential success this year.
HOME: … has not been kind to the Indians this year. They are now 2-5 at Progressive Field with 26 runs scored in seven games. Over the past two games, Cleveland has hit 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position with 19 baserunners stranded. The Indians have hit .191 in their last 68 at-bats with runners in scoring position, so the latest offensive slump did start before the flight back to Cleveland.
Royals (4-14) at Indians (9-7)
at 12 p.m. ET Thursday at Progressive Field