Life and baseball-teams-better-than-the-Orioles come at you fast.
After thumping the lowly Baltimore birds for a combined 29 runs over their four game set this past weekend, the Indians offense hasn’t been able to over come a pitching staff that features living, breathing, pitchers. They fell to the Athletics tonight, 5-3, in front of a dismal-looking crowd at Progressive Field.
The offense looked much better than they did through parts of April, granted, but most of that is because Francisco Lindor is healthy, and he can’t carry this team on his own. He tried tonight with a lead-off homer to give the Tribe a quick lead. It was the hardest hit ball of the game by far at 108.8 mph, with the next closest being Jurickson Profar’s eighth inning dagger off Adam Cimber that left his bat at 106.3 mph.
Trevor Bauer didn’t look exactly sharp on the mound, but he wasn’t all that hard — he just wasn’t fooling anybody. The velocity on his four-seamer peaked at 96.7 mph and dropped as low as 91.5, according to Baseball Savant. Does that alone mean anything? Probably not, and he probably could have overcome it with some great off-speed and secondary stuff, but none of it worked.
Bauer induced just 10 swinging strikes on the night, and 21 called strikes. After inducing 11 or more swings and misses through all but two of his first eight starts, he’s induced 10 or fewer in three of his last four — the lone exception being his May 11 start against these very A’s in which he didn’t allow a single earned run and still lost.
As for the offense, it didn’t really exist outside of solo shots from Lindor and Carlos Santana. The team drew seven walks, including two apiece from Santana and José Ramírez, but struck out nine times as a unit and somehow still employees both Jason Kipnis and Carlos González as top-four hitters in the lineup. Kipnis, to be fair, has a 16-game on-base streak going, so his spot in the two-hole has some justification, but excuses for González hitting in a major-league lineup — let alone hitting fourth — are wearing extremely thin.
Oscar Mercado notched another hit, and he’s now hit safely in four straight games, hopefully enough to ward off Terry Francona’s urges to either platoon him, or send him back down to Triple-A in favor of another veteran.
The worst news of the night comes from behind the plate, as Roberto Pérez left after taking a foul ball off the facemask. According to team officials, Pérez is being evaluated for a head injury. Also of note, Eric Haase was pulled from a Triple-A game with the Columbus Clippers midway through an at-bat — a sure sign he’s about to be called up. I’m happy for Haase and all, but that’s not a good sign for Pérez, and it’s certainly not for the Indians, who have increasingly relied on Pérez’s occasional flashes at the plate to even resemble a functioning offense.
Now they’re back to hoping José Ramírez finds himself before it’s too late.
UPDATE: It's a concussion.
Roberto Perez has a concussion. Terry Francona termed it “very mild.” Eric Haase is headed to Cleveland. Indians will re-evaluate their catching situation in the morning.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 22, 2019