Second Thoughts: Game #121 - Athletics 7, Indians 0
By Kevin Dean
August 20, 2012
If you haven't checked in on the Indians' season over the past month or so, this series finale against the Athletics was a pretty accurate representation of what you've missed (minus the errors and accompanying unearned runs) in just a two hour and 25 minute span.
Naturally, with a right-hander opposing the Indians, Shin-Soo Choo produced. He was the "high point" of the offense, collecting two singles. He also failed to score Ezequiel Carrera from third with one out in the opening frame, but he still claims top honors in a shutout. The difference between his left/right split OPS is now 400 points.
The aforementioned Carrera was put in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, and his speed got the game off to an exciting start. He put down a picture-perfect drag bunt, and proceeded to steal second base on the very next pitch. His day overall wasn't worthy of "good" placement, but his elite speed always is, particularly on a team that has very little.
Chris Perez hadn't worked in five days, so Manny Acta threw him out in the eighth inning of a seven-run game. He responded with a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. After three disastrous appearances in a row, post-trade deadline, he has rebounded by allowing just one hit in his last four. Why he wasn't traded is still a mystery, but him pitching well is nice to see under the circumstance.
This start fell right in line with Justin Masterson's career success in Oakland - none. Each inning progressively got worse for him in this one. A clean first, and an escape in the second. A hit batter coming around to score in the third, and a two-out home run in the fourth. The decisive blow, a three-pointer, was delivered in the fifth. With Esmil Rogers warming during the fifth, Manny Acta still decided to stick with Masterson for the sixth. He got touched up for another run, and a final one was charged to him after he finally left. There was just never a rhythm for him. He did well enough to get ahead of hitters, but wasn't able to get the outs. Like the team overall, he is impossible to figure.
An inning too late, Rogers spelled Masterson. He surrendered two straight hits with two outs, and a double and a four-pitch walk in the next inning. While he showed off a devastating slider and registered six swinging strikes in a short time, his fastball is still as straight as they come. Regardless, he's still been a great find. Working to turn his straight 96 into a moving 93 over the winter could benefit him tremendously.
Typically, Jack Hannahan, Casey Kotchman and Lou Marson have been in the lineup recently. The three of them went 2-for-10 in this game (both hits by Kotchman - one an infield fly lost in the sun that he got tagged out on by obliviously rounding too far), but there is a larger issue here. Combined, they have gone 25 for their last 157 (.159), with seven runs batted in and 14 walks. On the season, they have been only slightly better. There is plenty of blame to go around for the Indians' offensive woes, but voiced concerns that the core players aren't able to lead the team towards contention are probably misguided. More detrimental is how unproductive the backups and stopgaps have been (Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan included). Only Marson and possibly Duncan will factor in past this season, but that group has done everything they can to drag the entire offense down with them.
Speaking of rest, Jason Kipnis was given a day off. Things clearly aren't going well for him right now (seven for his last 60) when he is getting sat against a right-handed pitcher. A sore neck did cause him to miss a number of games recently, but there is no indication that him not playing had anything to do with it (or any other injury).
Next up: The Indians will trek north to round out their true west coast road trip in Seattle.
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I'd have way more interest if we were losing 100 games with kids as opposed to losing 100 games with "most of these guys never had a prime" type players.
Indians may get a top 5 draft pick this year.
Start there and move prospects up and others out.
Let Columbus & Akron have bad years in the standings.
Let's see Weglarz, Aguilar, Neal, Lawson & Lindor in Col's.
Move Paulino, J. Martinez, Santander to Carolina.
Put J. Ramirez, Sever, & Wendle in Akron.
Tice, Moncrief, R. Rodriguez should move to Akron or Col's.
Let's observe without 4-A players clogging the pipeline.
And let Hannahan, Duncan, Lillibridge, LaPorta, Canzler, and other one-time prospects move on.
Chisenhall, make or break, at 3rd, Santana at 1B-DH-C,
Marson at C, Kipnis at 2B, Donald or Phelps, not both, IF,
Neal, Fedroff, maybe Greenwell in Cleveland with Choo long gone, Sizemore retired, and only Brantley & maybe Carrera returning to the Indians.
Same thing with pitching-clean house; promote from within.