The Indians only lost by two runs tonight in their 2-0 toilet show against the White Sox. Technically, that’s progress.
While they didn’t get blown out for once this homestand, Tribe batters were once again shutout by a pitcher that shouldn’t be able to shut out a team supposedly on a path to the playoffs. Tonight’s winner of the dream matchup lottery was Lucas Giolito, a young pitcher that has had a lot of struggles in his career, and is making just his second start coming off the injured list.
So, naturally, he held the Indians scoreless and to three hits over his 7.1 innings.
Only Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis added anything of value to the offense tonight, with the former racking up three singles and the former adding a pair himself. Their five hits were it, save for José Ramírez’s ultimately useless walks. Carlos Santana was almost able to be the hero again with the bases loaded down by two, but a questionable third strike ended that notion. The bottom of the lineup went out with a wimper in the ninth.
Santana’s failure can be attributed to the strike call, but it’s not enough for me to want to burn down The Great Umpire Hall or wherever it is these guys sup in the offseason. It was a little low, but borderline enough that it can fall under good pitch. Santana also struck out with runners on first and second in the sixth inning, though that one was swinging.
I’ll always be a fan of Carlos, but boy was he not clutch tonight. He finished with -.326 WPA, meaning he and he alone decreased the Indians’ odds of winning by over 30% with his swings and misses in clutch situations.
Jefry Rodriguez continued to be good on the mound, but just enough that you can see the regression coming at any moment. You can’t ask much more than what he did tonight, though — six strikeouts and just two earned runs over six innings for a guy who is their sixth or seventh starter in a healthy month. He was hit much harder than his previous two outings, but he also touched 97 on the gun a couple times. He also showed off a sick as hell pickoff move that was also a balk, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.
The best thing to be said about the current streak of games is that eventually it will turn around, and when it does it will feel some kind of great. In a lot of ways, I welcome the ups and downs of a real baseball compared to being just good enough to skate by like last season, or dominant enough that they can lazily stroll into the playoffs like in 2017. Maybe the kind of texture and adversity they’re facing in early May can be a catalyst to something better later.
God I hope so.