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Second Thoughts Game #131: Chicago 3, Cleveland 2

Tigers Lose, but Indians Can’t Gain Ground

Second Thoughts Game #131: Chicago 3, Cleveland 2
Corey Kluber (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
August 28, 2014
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After more dramatics from Zach Walters on Tuesday, Corey Kluber took the mound on Wednesday in a game where the Indians were the heavy favorites. The White Sox were losers of seven straight and 14 of their last 18. Meanwhile, the Indians had their ace on the mound, had won three straight, and were facing a pitcher they’d hit well all season. 

It didn’t matter. 

Kluber gave up a couple of key RBI hits and the Indians offense struggled once again. Kluber probably has six starts left on the season, and the Indians will need to take full advantage of them. This is two starts in a row where he’s given the team a quality outing only for it to go to waste by a less than stellar effort offensively. They had their chances against Noesi, but as we’ve seen far too often in the month of August, the Indians weren’t able to get the hits when they needed them. On such example was runners on third and second with one out in the sixth and Michael Brantley batting. Brantley proceeded to pop out and Carlos Santana followed with a ground out to end the inning. With runners on second and first and two outs in the ninth the Indians sent Chris Dickerson (.156 batting average in August) to the plate, who promptly flied out to end the game. 

Right now the Indians, Royals, and Tigers are on a collision course. All three teams will be facing once another in early September, when the playoff race will become clearer. Right now the Indians focus has to be on catching Detroit. The Tigers are just .5 games back of Seattle in the race for the second Wild Card spot, and with seven games against the Tigers before September 15th, beating up on Detroit is now a necessity to making the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Indians have struggled with Detroit the past two years, and as this game goes to show you just never know what Indians team is going to show up. 

September Call-Ups Approaching 

September is just a few days away, and that means roster will expand to 40 players. The Indians will be looking to bring up players who can help the Major League team immediately. That begs the question, just who are those players? Below I’ve listed a few players that I believe merit an immediate call up and immediate playing time. 

Austin Adams – C.C Lee is the only right-handed middle reliever on the roster right now, depending on how you want to label Scott Atchison and Josh Tomlin. Lee has been inconsistent in bridging the gap between the starters and set-up men, leaving room for a pitcher like Adams to step into the mix and earn innings down the stretch. Adams has a 2.60 ERA with a 50:14 K/BB ratio in 52 innings down in Columbus this season. 

Brian Price – The comment above can also be used for Price. He’s pitched 25.1 innings in Triple A, with 27 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA. Price’s chance to pitch in Cleveland has been a long time coming, and even though he’s behind Lee and Adams in the pecking order, he could have the opportunity to earn some innings in September. Either way, he’s a major league ready arm and could be valuable in eating some innings in non-stressful situations.   

Jesus Aguilar – If it were up to me, Aguilar would already be in Cleveland. He’s been as good as any hitter in the International League, and even though there’s not an obvious spot for him in the Indians lineup, with the way he’s hitting they need to make a spot. I’ll put it this way, I’d much rather have had Aguilar batting with two outs in the ninth yesterday than Chris Dickerson. We’ve seen the impact that Zach Walters, Roberto Perez, Tyler Holt and others have had this season. Aguilar is as good as those players. His slash line is .302/.393/.509 with 19 home runs in Columbus, and he’s earned a chance to play in Cleveland. 

James Ramsey – This is player that I think has the least chance of being called up immediately, though I’m hopeful that he’ll get a chance at some point. Ramsey has hit well since the trade that brought him to Cleveland, recording a .307/.382/.534 line with the Clippers. When his competition for at-bats in right field would be Chris Dickerson and David Murphy, I don’t see any reason why Ramsey shouldn’t be a part of this team and given a chance to contribute. I won’t make it any secret that I hope he’s the starting right fielder next year. I think he’s going to be a very good player. 

Other Notes 

-Michael Bourn’s RBI single in the third got the Indians out to an early 1-0 lead. For all his other issues this season, Bourn has actually been an effective hitter in clutch situations. He’s hitting .345 with two outs and runners in scoring position. 

-In 23 games during the month of August, the Indians have scored three runs or less 14 times. In those 14 games their record is 6-8. For reference, they’ve lost only 9 games on the month. If half of those games could have gone the other way the Indians might be within striking distance of the second Wild Card leaders. 

-The Indians will finish up their three game set against the White Sox today, with Carlos Carrasco going up against John Danks. The team has scored 12 runs in 18 innings against Danks this season. 

User Comments

nonbeliever
August 29, 2014 - 2:48 PM EDT
i see the other side of the coin with Francona - hard to believe this team is in contention and someone has to get the credit from bringing them out for games like last nights.
Robert
August 29, 2014 - 10:19 AM EDT
The question is should anyone have pitched to Abreu. He kills us just like Cabrerra at Detroit. He should have been walked and a lefty brought in to face Dunn.

That said, considering the lineup disasters on this team to still be in any kind of contention going into September is IMO a testimony to the overall job Francona has done. Most of the high paid help has been MIA. I do note that Borne is contributing and Kipnis is starting to hit bit better.

How the team is structured - or restructured - next year will be gist for discussion all winter.

Bob
nonbeliever
August 28, 2014 - 7:25 PM EDT
I'm sorry. i know it is gospel that Francona is the reason the Indians have competed these past two years and I know the players love him. I think his being a player's manager goes too far. There is no excuse for the level of sloppy, unfocused play on a well manged team and Francona 'goes with his guys' at times that make no sense. I agree with Ryan - anyone who watched that game should know there was no way Kluber should have pitched to Abreu having thrown over a 110 pitches. There was no reason Brian Shaw - who leads the league in appearances should have pitched in a game with a 9-3 lead last month. There is no logic to hitting Aviles - with his .280 OBP second in any lineup. Francona's 'guys' got away from him in Boston and there are too many signs that poor discipline and misplaced attachment are present now.
Ryan
August 28, 2014 - 6:32 PM EDT
Having Kluber go out there was stupid. Plain and simple. It might not have mattered (because Francona ended up screwing things up anyway with his strategy WITH Kluber in pitching) but if you don't want to use Allen yet, you might as well use Tomlin for one time through the lineup and Crockett and Hagadone can get both RHH and LHH out. Sending out a pitcher who is already over his max IP in a season at 110+ pitches was ridiculous. And he had shown that he wasn't as sharp as he has always been, and Abreu has killed him (among other pitchers) but to have him up in that inning and still use him...UGH!
As soon as he gave up the single to Sanchez, they should have brought in a lefty to face Eaton. Or you know, even better, force the speedster Sanchez bat from the right side. Man just the Indians luck, Eaton was JUST recalled from the DL this week, and of course just in time for the Indians and just in time to torment the Indians.
C L Who
August 28, 2014 - 12:48 PM EDT
Urshela should get a call up too.

As for last night.....tough to win scoring 2 runs. Kluber labored a bit but plainly pitched well enough to get a W out of it.
Canadian Joe
August 28, 2014 - 11:38 AM EDT
Again we ask "why isn't Aguilar up with the Tribe". Another lost opportunity. Looks like Kluber may be wearing down a bit. Still a strong outing by him.
#TeamEastside
August 28, 2014 - 11:32 AM EDT
Devastating loss
Shy
August 28, 2014 - 11:24 AM EDT
A little concerned w Kluber's arm and brain getting a little tired yet they ran him out there for 118 so I guess Tito doesn't see it that way. I think Price may be most ready for a relief role call-up. Perhaps more than anyone else in the system right now he's been a strike thrower, keeps the ball down and makes very few mistakes. although he did not do well at the ML level in his previous call-up 2 yrs ago. Great to see Zach Putnam develop into a legit closer- he's worked long and hard to be filthy and I believe he has arrived. So has Hector Rondon who has 20 saves w an up and coming Cubbies team. The Indians gave em both up for nothing but you can't hold on to everybody. I really haven't seen Ramsey play but I think Moncrief is as good as Dickerson out there right now w more upside. I would bring him up while he's hot which he has been for the entire second half, and I would bring Aguilar up. I know they have to keep a spot open for D Murphy and maybe Raburn and Francona will want the veteran leadership and clubhouse presence that they bring, but all these guys can't play at the same time, so some tough decisions will have to be made. Bottom line, as long as the Indians have a chance to make the playoffs they have to play the hot hands whoever they may be.
Walter
August 28, 2014 - 11:11 AM EDT
Kluber with 2 game losing streak. However run support was 1 and 2 runs from the lowly White Sox and Twins in his starts. Last year they dominated these bad teams. This year they have struggled and is the main reason they are unable to make up ground in the standings. Another lost opportunity last night.

Another reason the Indians chances not making the playoffs this year is there very poor road record.

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