Covering the Bases: Game 61
FIRST: I guess it about sums up Nick Swisher’s fortunes lately that the man couldn’t even have a conversation without getting his manager ejected from a ballgame.
At least that was the picture painted by Swisher following Cleveland’s latest loss — No. 6 in a row. Before the bottom of the eighth inning, Swisher engaged home plate umpire Andy Fletcher to “have a nice little conversation” according to the Indians first baseman. Swisher wouldn’t delve into specifics other than to say he had questions over the way things were being run.
“I had a couple questions about some things,” Swisher said. “Then the finger pointing started and that’s when the conversation started to escalate. That was it. And then the next thing you know, I was getting blocked out [by manager Terry Francona].”
Francona said he didn’t realize Swisher and Fletcher were arguing, but the manager noticed things getting out of hand in a hurry.
“When I saw Andy get a little more animated, I got out there,” Francona said. “I had no intention of getting thrown out of the game. I just wanted to get in-between he and Swish. The way Andy approached me, I thought he lost his composure. I don’t think I had any chance of staying in that game. Spit was coming out of his mouth, and [he was] gesturing and everything.
“I didn’t know they were even arguing. It looked to me like they were talking and them I saw him gesturing toward Swish, so I realized I had to get out there and get in the way. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but the way he acted towards me, I don’t know how I could stay in the game.”
Francona was indeed ejected, for the second time this season. Both have come during this six-game slump. He was also tossed from Sunday’s home game against Tampa Bay.
SECOND: Say what you will about the team’s recent play, but the Indians have been in each of the last five losses. Cleveland has lost each of the past four by two runs or fewer and each of the last five by three runs or fewer. In each of the last four games, the Indians have had the tying run on base or at the plate in the eighth inning or later.
“I feel like we’re right there,” Swisher said. “You kind of see the wins and loss column, but it kind of feels like [we need] that one hit, man. I feel like we have the tying run up to the plate every game. We just need to break through — we really do.”
I had a few people ask why veteran lefty Jason Giambi didn’t pinch hit in the ninth inning with two runners on base and righty Jose Valverde on the mound. Francona noted that lefty Drew Smyly was warming up for Detroit, so the Indians checked with Giambi and Mike Aviles and opted to have Aviles face Valverde in the final at-bat.
THIRD: The Indians summoned right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Triple-A Columbus for Saturday’s start (Zach McAllister landed on the disabled list with a sprained right middle finger). In just four innings, Carrasco allowed six runs on 10 hits with one strikeout and three walks. He loaded the bases in each of the first three innings and paid for it.
Part of the problem? Carrasco’s inability to pitch inside.
“His stuff is electric,” Francona said. “But there’s still some learning to do, because he didn’t pitch in. If he lets them get their arms extended and then it takes away some of the effectiveness of his breaking ball, because they’re not respecting in. When he learns to start throwing that fastball in, he’s going to be something special.”
Here is what Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter had to say about Carrasco:
“He throws hard. I mean, he’s 94-97 [mph] and you don’t know where the ball is going. It’s uncomfortable. Effectively wild, but today he got behind in the count and we were able to capitalize on him getting behind and getting the count in our favor.”
HOME: Part of the issue lately for the Tribe — a big problem down the stretch last season — has been playing behind early. Consider that the Indians have been outscored 26-2 in the first three innings in the last six games combined. The rotation has gone 0-6 with an 8.49 ERA over the last six games.
“We’re competing. The results just aren’t there right now,” Francona said. “We’re playing from behind a lot and that’s a hard way to play, but if you’re going to do it you’ve got to keep fighting. It’ll be more fun when we play with a lead, but if we’re not, the next choice is to come back and win a game from behind.”
“We’ve just got to win, man,” Swisher said. “A lot of us aren’t feeling too good right now. It’s a frustrating time, man. It’s a super frustrating time for everybody. We’ve just got to go out there and find a way to win a game. Start with one game and it’ll snowball into something good.”
Indians (30-31) at Tigers (34-26)
at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at Comerica Park