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Second Thoughts Game #123: Orioles 4, Indians 1

Tribe bats fall silent in series finale as bullpen cannot hold O's back

Second Thoughts Game #123: Orioles 4, Indians 1
Jonathan Schoop circles the bases after going deep against left-hander Kyle Crockett in the ninth inning on Sunday. (Photo: AP)
August 18, 2014
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To be honest, the fact that the Indians pitching staff held this Orioles offense in check for so long is impressive and even holding them to four runs in their "breakout game" of the series isn't something to be too ashamed of.

The unfortunate reality of Sunday's loss was the Indians offense was limited to just one run on two hits, all recorded in the fourth inning. While they did draw five walks, it doesn't change the fact that no hits were recorded in eight of the nine innings.

Danny Salazar was actually solid in his return to the rotation from AAA pitching five shutout innings before allowing a pair of baserunners in the sixth, who later scored against Scott Atchison. The young right-hander finished with two runs allowed on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts, but took his sixth loss of the season.

A rotation rebuilt?

Following the trade of Justin Masterson, the Indians starting rotation was in a state of definite uncertainty with no spots completely locked down after Corey Kluber. Since then, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin have proven to be ineffective long-term solutions whileTrevor Bauer has stepped up and taken control of one of the spots and now it appears Carlos Carrasco may still have a chance at panning out as a starter.

The team had hoped that Danny Salazar might be able to take one of the spots from day one this season, but it has turned out to be easier said than done for the young right-hander, who has battled command and mechanical issues this year as he is learning to keep his fastball down and develop his secondary pitches. After spending about two months in AAA Columbus, confidence has built within the organization that he is returning to form.

On Sunday, Salazar pitched five-plus innings since returning from his latest stint in Columbus while allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The runs didn't score until after the right-hander departed in the sixth where he had allowed a leadoff double and hit a batter. Both runs eventually came around to score against Scott Atchison. Still, it's an encouraging performance as the team continues to hold out hope for him becoming a dominant top-of-the-rotation starter behind Kluber.

Things are looking brighter for the future of the Tribe rotation, especially if Carrasco is back on track as a starter. Having Kluber as the ace and Bauer, Salazar and Carrasco as the next three starters gives the Tribe a lot of youth and long-term control on their staff. If they could add a veteran arm to the mix and keep McAllister, Tomlin and T.J. House as depth options, they would be in pretty good shape going into next year.

One run on two hits...

Other than the six-run outburst the Tribe managed to put together on Saturday, the offense was actually quite anemic during this home stand. In the other four games, the team only managed to score six total runs in 38 combined innings with three of those runs coming on solo homers, including the walk-off blasts by Zach Walters and Mike Aviles.

Sunday was no better as the Indians only managed one run on two hits, which all took place in the fourth inning thanks to a double by Carlos Santana and an RBI single by Jason Kipnis. Other than that, five walks were the only baserunners for the Tribe.

On the home stand as a whole, the Indians finished at 5-for-30 (.167) with runners in scoring position with 25 total runners left on base. On the season, the Indians are batting .260 with runners in scoring position as a team, which is middle-of-the-pack in the league, but are only batting .199 in that situation with two outs, which is third worst in the AL.

I was disappointed to see Tyler Holt sent back to AAA in order to clear a spot for Danny Salazar, especially with Chris Dickerson basically clogging up a spot at this point. While I'm sure Terry Francona appreciates his veteran presence, it doesn't change the fact that he's only 2-for-22 (.091) in his last 10 games. Holt at least proved that he was capable of adjusting to the big league level and becoming a spark plug for the team.

The point is it's getting late in the year and it might be time to consider parting ways with guys who aren't cutting it and giving some more of the youngsters from AAA a shot such as Jesus Aguilar, Giovanny Urshela or even the newly-acquired James Ramsey. At the very least, give us an idea of what viable big league position player options we have going into next season.

Up Next: Indians (62-61) vs. Twins (55-67) @ Target Field. First pitch at 8:10 pm ET (Tuesday).

Following his best outing of the season and arguably the best outing of his major league career to date, Trevor Bauer will take the mound in Minnesota for this series opener. The right-hander has had struggles on the road this year, however, posting a 1-5 record with a 5.82 ERA away from Progressive Field. He pitched well against the Twins in July allowing only three runs in six innings while walking two and striking out seven. Unfortunately, he took the loss in that outing.

Minnesota will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is vying for his 12th win of the season. Gibson dominated his last time out against Houston pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only one run. In two starts against the Indians this season, the right-hander is 1-0 and has only allowed one run in 12 combined innings. He has walked seven batters in those two starts while only striking out four, however.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

Ryan
August 18, 2014 - 3:40 PM EDT
The reason Dickerson is still around is because he hits LH, Francona loves his platoons and we are more likely to face more RHP then LHP. Raburn would be the one that Holt SHOULD replace, but Francona wouldn't properly use Holt off the bench, instead somehow believing that Bourn is still an elite CFer and Holt is not a better defender, and should at least be a late-inning defensive replacement. Using Moncrief instead of Dickerson would be an interesting choice, except Moncrief's minor league K-rate leaves a lot to be desired.
Joey
August 18, 2014 - 1:07 PM EDT
Dickerson is becoming this years Cunningham with a strikeout problem 30/89 K/PA
Walter
August 18, 2014 - 12:25 PM EDT
With Moncrief on the 40 man roster would like to see him instead of Dickerson. I had the chance to see the Indians when I was in town last week. The problem was not the kids. The problems was the veterans who failed to come through in the clutch. Should have been 5-0 not 3-2 on this homestand.

Tony
August 18, 2014 - 12:04 PM EDT
Not sure I see the reason for the vitriol GSon, but everyone is free to comment as they wish. I do think Jake is right in that it is time to move on from the likes of Dickerson, Raburn, etc. I'd rather stick with guys like Holt and even try Aguilar at this point. I get why Dickerson and Raburn are in Cleveland....they have experience and have been around the block....but I think that is also one of the greatest faults of this manager and front office is the over reliance on veterans. Raburn is a different case in that he is signed for next year, but at this point it is a bit strange that Dickerson is still around. Especially since he hits left-handed. The sooner they move on from him the better......sometimes I just don't get it.
Canadian Joe
August 18, 2014 - 12:03 PM EDT
Can't disagree Jake, but any help now is for this year only, in all probability. Don't want to see a few good prospects dealt for a short term fix. Besides, this team is not built to win it all now. They don't have the horses. Just missing vs. winning a WC and then one and done...... not a lot of difference.
Next year, on the other hand, a whole different story.
Jake D.
August 18, 2014 - 11:32 AM EDT
And on Tomlin and McAllister, I'm not giving up on either one. However, Tomlin is who he is, a #5 starter who will have an ERA around four and will give up a lot of long balls. Z-Mac needs time to figure out some plan of attack with his secondary pitches. He's learned the hard way that throwing 70% fastballs is not going to work for him in the majors. So no, I'm not giving up on them. I just like what I'm seeing from Bauer, Salazar and Carrasco right now.
Jake D.
August 18, 2014 - 11:24 AM EDT
GSon, are you telling me you are happy with this team's offensive performance right now? Apart from Saturday, pretty much the only way we scored any runs during this home stand was by hitting it out of the ballpark. The D-Backs series was pathetic from an offensive standpoint even though we split the 2 games.

The point I was trying to convey was that status quo is not working and won't help us get a playoff berth. The pitching staff is starting to step up their game like they did last year. We should be willing to try anything to get the lineup to follow suit.
GSon
August 18, 2014 - 10:56 AM EDT
Stop writing a column as if you're trying to be Paul Hoynes..

NEXT YEAR IS NEXT YEAR..giving kids a look-see cuppa coffee might seem valuable, but this team is within four and a half of a wildcard spot and have 13 games against the teams in front of them in the division..NOW IS NOT THAT TIME...

Leaning toward giving up on McAllister or Tomlin or whatever you wrote is premature.. don't do that.. C-Dicks is the OF'er the Indians have on the roster now. Holt, while showing some promise will be back in 13 days to help the team THIS YEAR....

..just a sad column.. sad indeed..

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