Indians fall to 4-4
If you were a hitter in a bad slump, you were in luck tonight. Something was in the air in Cleveland, and it was killing bad mojo. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Indians, the entire New York Mets lineup had been struggled all season long and they benefitted most from these mysterious good vibes.
Indians starting pitcher Cody Anderson did not have his best stuff from the get-go, and considering Anderson's stuff is far from deadly at its best, it was bound to be a rough night. From what I saw, none of his pitches had much of any movement, and his velocity rarely (never?) exceeded 94. This is a change from the 95-97 mph pitches we were seeing in his debut last week and through spring training. Anderson does not need to maintain high-90s velocity to be successful, but if everything about his game is going to be as weak as it was tonight, he is going to have issues going forward no matter how hard he throws the ball.
Mets batters took advantage of a weak Anderson, belting a total of three home runs off Big Country on their way to a 6-5 win. They also tallied another home run of off lefty Ross Detwiler, who still remains on the roster for some reason with Kyle Crockett sitting in Triple-A.
The Indians had a very obvious game plan against Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, but it did not work at all. Everything thrown to Conforto was an offspeed pitch, and the Tribe defense was heavily shifted to catch him pulling the ball. Unfortunately, when he hits the ball out of the park or bizarrely hits it off the tip of his bat for a swinging bunt towards third base, all the shifts in the world do not do much good. That's just the kind of the night the Indians had.
Carlos Santana was just inches shy of making this a different game from the beginning. In the first inning, with Mike Napoli on second base, Santana smashed a ball that was called a home run. Upon a brief umpire meeting (no video review), it was determined to be a foul ball. Santana walked instead, which is fine, but Yan Gomes came up behind him and immediately struck out. The Indians went from a 1-3 game back to a 1-1 tie due to a ball slicing just a few extra inches. Baseball is a cruel game.
Santana did end up getting the two runs back in the ninth inning with a monster of a home run. In fact, the entire Indians offense suddenly came alive in the final frame, but they fell just short.
The Indians had another chance to score in the second inning, but a dreaded bunt ruined it. With Juan Uribe and Marlon Byrd on base, Tyler Naquin bunted in an ill-fated attempt to advance both runners. Naquin's bunt was too hard, however, and Byrd was thrown out at third. Even if the bunt worked it was not a great decision, but the fact that it failed was an atrocity.
Jason Kipnis, who has been struggling against the onslaught of left-handed pitchers the Tribe has been facing, was great tonight. He finished the game 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a run batted in. On the subject of positive regression, Juan Uribe was 3-for-4 after starting the season 1-for-19. He finally has a few hits as a member of the Indians, and it would be nice to see him build off that going forward.
The Indians offense attempted a few comebacks in the later innings, but nothing came of them. The best chance the Indians had to get back into the game was the sixth inning when Yan Gomes reached on an error and Uribe doubled, advancing Gomes to third. Jose Ramirez, pinch-hitting for Tyler Naquin, promptly struck out and Rajai Davis flied out to left. That was the end of that.
I'm all for more playing time for Ramirez, but pinch hitting him late in a game and putting him in left field seemed odd to me. Luckily, nothing negative came of it, but Angry Hamster has proven to not be the best defensive outfielder in the world.
This was a loss, and a painful one at that, but I feel like there are good takeaways from it, unlike a lot of games last season. The offense did not lay down and die the moment they fell behind. Sure, the rallies didn't work, but there were attempted rallies and that is more than I can say for this offense in the past couple years. Tonight's loss may be the biggest glaring example of just how important Brantley is to the offense; it's sad to think how many more runs would have been scored if he were not rehabbing in Akron.
Oh well, at least they only have to face Matt Harvey tomorrow.
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