Covering the Bases: Game 50
Royals 6, Indians 3
FIRST: The Indians’ latest tumble to second place is not on the offense. This recent slide is on the starting rotation. The offense, even throughout all the injuries of late, has held up its end of things for the most part.
In Wednesday’s loss, Cleveland received another subpar performance from its starter and the result was a second straight series loss against a division rival. Following a sweep of the Tigers, the Tribe has been swept on the road by the White Sox and has now dropped two of three to Kansas City at home.
Jeanmar Gomez was the latest to turn in a forgettable outing. The right-hander allowed five runs on 10 hits over five innings. Over his past two outings, Gomez has surrendered 11 earned runs across 10.2 innings. Gomez is only part of what has been an ongoing problem, though.
Here is the output by Cleveland’s rotation over the past six games:
May 30: 5 IP, 5 ER, 10 H (Gomez, loss)
May 29: 6 IP, 7 ER, 9 H (Justin Masterson, loss)
May 28: 5 IP, 4 ER, 4 H (Josh Tomlin, win)
May 27: 4 IP, 7 ER, 7 H (Ubaldo Jimenez, loss)
May 26: 2.1 IP, 8 ER, 10 H (Derek Lowe, loss)
May 25: 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 H (Gomez, loss)
Totals: 1-5, 11.89 ERA (37 ER/28 IP) with 46 hits allowed
“It was like everybody was bit by the same bug this last week,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.
In the 10 games prior to the recent six-game slide, Indians starters combined to go 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA (17 ER/68.1 IP) and 50 hits allowed.
Cleveland can’t survive atop the American League Central, or in a postseason setting for that matter, if its rotation isn’t consistently eating innings and holding the opposition in check. Now, a 2.31 ERA over a long stretch isn’t realistic. Neither is an 11.89 ERA, though.
Some consistency with the quality starts is what the Tribe needs.
“The pitching sets the tone,” Acta said. “Right now we’re not setting the tone very well.”
SECOND: Johnny Damon (hitting .171) served as the designated hitter for the Indians on Wednesday. Other options while Travis Hafner is sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks consist of Shelley Duncan (.204), Jose Lopez (.256) and Lonnie Chisenhall (promoted from Triple-A on Monday).
Could help be on the way from the Minors?
“Everybody on the Triple-A roster is an option,” Acta said.
Well, we know that’s not entirely true. The top two candidates for promotion would seem to be right-handed hitters Matt LaPorta and Russ Canzler. Both have experience at first base, left field and DH. Of the two, LaPorta is having the better season.
A lot of Indians fans have taken to Twitter and my inbox crying for LaPorta to be called up already. After all, he is hitting .304 with 13 homers and 30 RBIs through 44 games. He’s also hit .321 against left-handed pitching. Might he be on the way? It’s possible, sure. Acta said the team would go over in-house options on Thursday’s off-day.
Keep something in mind, though. LaPorta has always hit Minor League pitching well. It’s the jump to the big leagues that has typically presented the issue. It’s also fair to point out that LaPorta’s season stats are heavily influenced by a strong April showing at home.
Consider that LaPorta was hitting .228 (18-for-79) with a .794 OPS in May and .236 (17-for-72) with a .665 OPS on the road, entering Wednesday.
THIRD: The Indians stole three more bases in Wednesday’s game, giving them 42 on the season. Through 50 games last year, Cleveland had 29 stolen bases. It’s all in an effort to try to create as much offense as possible. The Tribe has turned 19 of their 42 stolen bases (45.2%) into runs. Jason Kipnis stole two bases on Wednesday, giving him a team-leading 11 thefts on the year.
HOME: Cleveland had a great chance at a comeback in the ninth inning. With one out, K.C. closer Jonathan Broxton lost his command and quickly found himself in a bases-loaded jam. Shin-Soo Choo walked, Kipnis singled and Asdrubal Cabrera drew a free pass to set up a potentially game-changing situation.
That was until Jose Lopez hacked at the first pitch and grounded into a game-ending double play.
“Jose was trying to ambush them there on the first pitch,” Acta said. “It was just a poor swing. The ball ate him up.”
Lopez said he was looking for a fastball and he got one. The problem was it was too high in the zone and he went after it anyway. At least Lopez owned up to it and admitted he should have taken the pitch.
Said Broxton: “I just wasn’t getting the ball over the plate. I was missing by a good bit. It wasn’t even close and luckily he swung at it right there.”
Twins (18-32) at Indians (27-23)
at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Progressive Field
NOTE: Covering the Bases will return on Sunday. I’m off Friday and Saturday, so make sure you are following Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) on Twitter and checking Indians.com for updates in my absence.