Second Thoughts: Game #119 - Athletics 6, Indians 4
By Kevin Dean
August 18, 2012
|W:Norberto (4-1) L: J. Smith (7-3) SV: Balfour (10)
The Indians came into Friday's game 25-13 in series openers, got out to a 4-0 lead and had their best pitcher of late on the mound. But that was only half of the game. The other belonged solely to the opposition.
Streaky and frustrating often describe Shelley Duncan's play, and this season has been no different. He came through in a major way in the fourth inning, though, depositing a grand slam into the night that opened the scoring. Many have wondered if he will join the group of traded veterans this month, but three additional years of control and a huge right-handed deficiency will probably prevent it.
Jason Donald defended in left field for just the 13th game in his professional career (all this season), but he played it as though he's never been anywhere else. He played one ball off the wall about as flawlessly as anyone could, another that short-hopped the wall well, got off strong, accurate throws, and made a sliding catch across the bullpen in foul territory. It remains to be seen if his bat can play anywhere on a regular basis, however.
I continue to harp on this because it continues to show up: Shin-Soo Choo has been a complete liability against left-handed pitching. There is no denying that he has had an impressive season, but the problem is glaring, and he added another 0-for in this one. He got hit to lead off the eighth with the score tied, and an aggressive piece of baserunning got him into scoring position, but it was for naught. After his injury last season, the continued punishment he has taken from left-handers could very well be affecting his confidence to stand in and swing the bat like he does against right-handers.
It is frightening to think just how bad this pitching staff would be if not for Zach McAllister. Unfortunately, he put together a start that was more in line with most of the rest of the rotation. He continued to throw strikes as he has, but plenty of traffic and a pair of hanging sliders really hurt him in the three-run fourth. Maybe the biggest concern about him is his penchant for allowing stolen bases (opponents were 9-for-9 against him coming into this game), and one in the fifth led the tying run to score on a sacrifice fly. By no means was this a disastrous start, but more is expected of him now.
Joe Smith was brought on to get one out in the seventh inning, and did. He stayed on for the eighth, Vinnie Pestano's designated inning, and two reached against him without an out. He was charged with the two runs that would eventually score.
Vinnie Pestano was brought into Smith's fire, and not able to escape unscathed this time. The runs weren't his, but this was the second consecutive appearance in which he uncharacteristically struggled. He has probably earned the benefit of the doubt because of his dominant season, but he would be the first to criticize himself.
After Duncan's grand slam in the fourth, the Indians produced exactly one hit. Besides Choo's free and painful base, it was their only baserunner the rest of the way. The beat goes on for a puzzling (and puzzled) offense.
In typical fashion, Joe West ruined any kind of rhythm to the game with his floating strike zone. As someone who has never been in favor of replay, umpires this season have fully convinced me to support the concept. Maybe robots, too.
Yesterday afternoon, word came down that Josh Tomlin would seek a second opinion about his sore elbow. The first opinion was never made known, but based on this development, it must have been concerning and likely involved some kind of surgery.
Next up: Two more against the Athletics, followed by a trek north to round out the true west coast road trip in Seattle.
For more Indians insight from Kevin, along with ticket giveaways, follow him on Twitter: @KevinIPI. He can also be reached by way of email at email@example.com.