For a moment, I really thought that the Indians were going to turn it around and have another gritty win against a fantastic Tampa Bay team.
Not sure what I was thinking.
After almost three hours of “rain” delay, the Indians took the field against the Tampa Bay Rays. And for the first two innings, the teams looked pretty evenly matched. Carlos Carrasco started the game needing just 8 pitches to get through the first inning, which included a strikeout. Charlie Morton needed just 12 to dispatch the Tribe in the bottom half of the inning, where he notched 3 of his 10 strikeouts of the evening. In the second inning, Brandon Lowe worked a full count before launching a rocket into the gap in center field for an RBI double. The Tribe had a chance to take the lead in the bottom half of the inning with runners at the corners and nobody out. Jordan Luplow then grounded out to bring up Leonys Martin, who squeaked a ball into left field to tie the game. But that was all the offense the Indians would have for quite some time.
You’ve heard this recap multiple times this season. The Tribe has little to no offense, which puts the pitching staff on a razor’s edge. Cookie looked good for the first four innings. Following the Brandon Lowe double, he was able to keep the bases fairly clear until the fourth inning. But even then, when the bases were loaded with one out, he buckled down and got back to back strikeouts of Kevin Kiermaier and Travis d’Arnaud to end the threat.
Unfortunately, Cookie’s luck ran out there. In the fifth inning, a Tommy Pham single brought up Ji-Man Choi, who worked a 2-1 count and then shot a laser onto the home run porch to put the Rays up 3-1. If this was the only home run that Carrasco would give up today, it would be understandable. But instead, he gave up two more before being pulled in the seventh inning; a two-run shot to Tommy Pham and a solo shot to Brandon Lowe. Cookie is having a big problem with the home run ball this year, giving up 1.7 HR/9, which is significantly higher than his career mark of 1.0. With the offense as putrid as it’s been, the pitching can’t afford to make any mistakes. When they do, it’s game over, as evidenced by today (and almost every other game the Tribe’s played this season).
I’d love to sing some praise for the offense today, but outside of Carlos Santana and Leonys Martin, no one did anything of note.* Jose Ramirez was responsible for the fifth hit (Santana and Martin each had two apiece). The Tribe did strikeout 12 times today, with every single hitter striking out at least once.
I don’t know what to say about this team that hasn’t already been said. They have moments where the offense rattles off a ton of hits and runs, but the time between those rare occurrences is so vast it hardly matters when it happens. Credit to a superb Tampa Bay pitching staff for keeping the Cleveland bats quiet, but if you told me that Baltimore or Miami had done the same thing this weekend, I would’ve believed you because the offensive production by this team is abysmal.
Rain delayed tidbits
- The rain delay was pointless. It hardly rained at all. It would’ve been better to play a rain shortened game.
- Josh Smith made his MLB debut out of the bullpen and he went 1.2 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts.
- Terry Francona got ejected for the first time this season when he argued that Jose Ramirez got hit by a pitch that was otherwise called a strike because the umpires said he offered at the pitch on a bunt attempt. Maybe seeing the skipper tossed will be the spark this team needs.
- Jason Kipnis’ 18-game on base streak has come to an end.
- I think Matt took his kids to their first baseball game today. I’m sorry that the weather and the Indians put a damper on what was hopefully a fun family trip.
- The Twins punched the White Sox in the metaphorical face earlier today, so their AL Central lead is extended to 9 games. Exciting.
A split is still possible if the Indians can salvage a win tomorrow. Trevor Bauer will take the mound with newfound knowledge in regards to why he’s struggled so much this month. I hope whatever he found proves effective because this team is incredibly difficult to watch right now.
*Roberto Perez worked a lot of counts tonight and drew two walks, so he was also productive at the plate.