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Second Thoughts Game #119-120: Indians split doubleheader

Second Thoughts Game #119-120: Indians split doubleheader
Zach Walters is showered by his teammates as he crosses home plate after hitting the game winning home run in game one. (Photo: AP)
August 14, 2014
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Indians Walk-Off Again

In game one of the doubleheader Zach Walters hit the Indians’ sixth walk off home run of the season, the most in the majors. In the process he showed everyone exactly why they acquired him two weeks ago. With his power, Walters has the ability to be a difference maker in the Indians’ lineup.

When he was acquired I was hopeful that Walters was a player who could take Ryan Raburn’s role, either immediately or whenever the team does decide to pull the plug on him. The Indians have a huge need for a right-handed power bat, and have for a long time. While Walters isn’t a pure right-handed hitter, he can provide what they need if he develops properly. I’m glad that he’s getting playing time in the outfield as I really think that’s where he can impact the team defensively.

Despite limited playing time in the majors and minors in the outfield, he’s looked capable in his time in Cleveland and should get even better. Multiple scouting reports cite his arm as his best tool defensively, and obviously that’s something that translates well to the outfield. Even if the Indians can find him a home on defense, there are still questions about whether or not his plate discipline will allow him to get the most out of his offensive skill set. There are a lot of players who fail to tap into their power because of bad plate discipline, and that’s the biggest question mark that faces Walters.

For now, I’m enjoying just watching him play. He appears to be a humble and team-oriented player, and with his power potential he’s going to receive all the opportunities in the world to establish himself as a key member of the team’s lineup over the coming months and into next season.

Best Start of the Year for Bauer

Trevor Bauer absolutely didn’t deserve a no decision for his start in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Coming off his worst start of the year, Bauer responded with what might have been his best. He went a career high eight innings (111 pitches), struck out nine, and even took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. While he did give up the two runs, both were RBI groundouts. He was in control of this game the entire way and pitched even better than the final line indicated.

In a way, I think Bauer has gotten better as the year has progressed. He was strong at the beginning of the year, but that didn’t last long. He didn’t have a strong month of June, watching his strikeout rate tumble and walk rate rise from his earlier starts. He was much better in July, at one point posting four straight quality starts. Since then he’s been a little uneven, mixing two bad starts with two great starts.

That’s how it goes sometimes with young pitchers. The key has been that when Bauer has had a poor start, he’s not allowed it to carry over to the next one. For young pitchers, this is similar to not allowing things to spiral out of control when an inning is going bad. Bauer has been able to take his bad starts, learn from them, and come back stronger.

As he matures, we’re going to be seeing a lot more starts like this one versus the start he had over the weekend in New York. It’s easy to forget how much of a mess he was at this time last season. Now he’s the Indians second best starter, and he’s only getting better.

Tomlin and Bullpen Strong in Game 2

Much like Trevor Bauer kept the Indians and their stagnant offense in game one, Josh TomlinNick Hagadone,Scott AtchisonMarc RzepczynskiBryan Shaw, and Kyle Crockett kept the Diamondbacks at bay until the 12th inning when an RBI single off C.C. Lee scored the only run of game two.

You can’t fault the pitching staff for this one. The Indians had plenty of opportunities to put runs on the board during the game, but couldn’t come through. It was a wasted effort by Tomlin, who had his best performance since the one-hitter on June 28th, and a host of pitchers out of the bullpen. While Lee wasn’t strong in his appearance, he’s looked great in his other recent appearances and deserves more opportunities to establish himself in the pen.

In extra innings the Indians offense had runners on second and first with one out in the 10th inning, but Mike Aviles grounded into a double play. Then in the 11th they had Michael Brantley at second base after a leadoff double, but Carlos Santana and Chris Dickerson followed with strikeouts before Zach Walters grounded out to end the inning. The offense left a total of eight runners in scoring position during the game. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Overall through the two games of this doubleheader the offense struggled with the Diamondbacks barrage of left-handed pitching and missed a great opportunity for a quick two game sweep.

Other Notes

- A congratulations are in order for Tyler Holt, who had his first major league hit in the first game of the doubleheader. That was just the start of a big day for Holt, who recorded four hits on the day and made a highlight reel catch in game two. Holt has the ability to be a valuable player off the Indians bench in the coming years. He’s a solid defender at multiple positions and has hit lefties well in his minor league career. Unfortunately, withMichael Bourn scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday, I believe that it’s Holt that will find his way back to Columbus.

-The team has an off day on Thursday as they head to Baltimore for a three game stretch against the Orioles. The first game will feature Corey Kluber taking the mound against Wei-Yin Chen. With Kluber on the hill, the team will have a golden opportunity to start the series off with an important victory.

User Comments

Jimmy
August 15, 2014 - 11:46 AM EDT
I think that Zach looks like a younger Michael Brantley and that is a good thing. How about that homer?
Tyler Holt is the real deal and I hope that Terry realizes that Bourn is done as an outfield starter unless management kicks it. Holt can play rings around Bourn and Bourn would not have made those catches. Bourn has bad knees and should DH since striking out so much or let Chris DH and Bourn set the pines. He is getting old and another free agent signing my our management. Brantley before Bourn was a very good center fielder and really Bourn never will be a Brantley.
Remember when Terry pulled Lonnie, who was going to pitch hit for Aviles back and Mike hit into that double play. Lonnie doubled in 12th pinch hitting??? What would have happen if Terry would have stayed with pinch hitting Lonnie for Michael. Who will ever know????
Terry please tell Aviles to keep bat steady an maybe he will hit the ball solid??? Aviles is a great team mate and field and maybe this might make him a hitter?
yourtribe
August 14, 2014 - 6:39 PM EDT
Agree hawk. A lot of dead weight on team. I want a young athletic team next year.
Hawk1228
August 14, 2014 - 5:20 PM EDT
I believe we have 2 everyday players( Brantkley and Gomes) I would feel comfortable returning next year Everyone else is in the discussion Santana may bring us our best return so he would be the one player who should be first to go. With Urshela Aquilar Lindor Moncrief Walters Holt Ramsey all close to major league ready Chisenhall Santana Swisher Bourn Raburn Murphy all should be trade candidates
Tony
August 14, 2014 - 4:28 PM EDT
Agreed on Santana. There are about six other spots in the lineup I am more worried about than Santana. He's one of the rare solid (though inconsistent) bats they have.
Tondo
August 14, 2014 - 4:25 PM EDT
Santana, while a very frustrating player, is the least of the problems right now.

Gotta get rid of some vets and play the young guys. Apparently Axford just got traded to the Pirates, so that's a start...
Ryan
August 14, 2014 - 3:03 PM EDT
I literally felt sick to my stomach that Santana could not even do his patented overswing on an outside pitch and pull it as a weak chopper to the right side when Brantley was on 2B and no outs. And for crying out loud, one would think after seeing so many consecutive changeups a batter would be able to either lay off it or put one in play.
hawk1228
August 14, 2014 - 3:02 PM EDT
I agree that this team needs subtraction Carlos Santana is not a 4 hitter I've had this discussion in the past he is too inconsistent. I also question his baseball IQ Manning pointed it out yesterday with Brantley on second no one out and a 3-1 count on Santana he swung for the fences on a ball outside instead of just going with the pitch Both our 4 and 5 hitters failed to move him up a base
Santanas numbers since July 29th after that one torrid week In 15 games he is batting 189 with a 323 OBP an OPS of 549 and slugging percentage of 226
Tondo
August 14, 2014 - 2:31 PM EDT
Tuned in to game one just in time to see Walter's walk off HR and was pumped. Then watched the middle innings of game two and I switched off after the 2nd inning ending GIDP by Raburn, and before by Aviles undoing a JRam leadoff single. The so called vets are hurting and holding this team back and as much as I like the recent drafts and trades, that's a big part of a Antonetti's job too.

What I'm trying to say is that there is a lot of addition by subtraction potential on the roster and the FO has to realize their mistakes and act accordingly. It's such a frustrating team to watch. As a fan, you always hope they can get on a roll, as you can clearly see the potential, but often the vets who get paid to carry the team, hold it back on the field, and that's on management and coaches too. This is not only a .500 ball club, it's also a .500 FO job. They are close, but they simply can't afford to pay over 75% of the entire budget to guys that play well below .500 ball, that's insane.

And why the hell is Aviles and his sub .300 OBP batting 2nd and playing a corner OF spot with Holt, Moncrief, JRam, Aguilar being red hot? Aviles should have been on revocable waivers on August 1st, I'm sure some NL team values his versatility and controllable contract situation into next season and the Indians simply don't need him anymore (now and next year) with JRam and Walters on the 40. Get some A ball lottery ticket for him and move on.
yourtribe
August 14, 2014 - 2:27 PM EDT
Thank god tues game was rained out so I at least saw one win! The reg scheduled game was painful to sit through. Just horrible. Play holt Walters jram and Ramsey and naquin when healthy. They can't do as worse as the vets have and are much more athletic. And Lindor!

Play the young guys rest of year. Raburn swish and Murphy even if healthy should go home now.

Move Gomes to 4 ahead of Carlos!!!! Took Tito a year to move Gomes out if the 8 hole so I'm not optimistic.

Kipnis?? What the heck? No range and can't hit. So we get Bourn back who doesn't hit much better and Ks waaay to much.
markn95
August 14, 2014 - 12:30 PM EDT
Nice to see some Columbus guys make a mark in the big leagues. Guys like Holt, Roberto Perez, and even Walters may not be starters but they at least look like slid bench contributors. That's something that's been missing the last 5 years or so for the Tribe, as they've had to rely on journeymen like Shelly Duncan and Austin Kearns for significant at-bats; not to mention overpaying for veterans like Bourn and Swisher who have seen better days. No to mention that there's even more talent in C-bus with Lindor, Agulair, and Urshela knocking on the door for 2015.
Kenneth
August 14, 2014 - 12:17 PM EDT
Actually, it'll be the Orioles who will be traveling to Cleveland this weekend.

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