Second Thoughts: Game #142 Rangers 6, Indians 4
By Jim Piascik
September 12, 2012
Another day, another loss for the Cleveland Indians. That hardly comes as a surprise for a team that is now 59-83 on the season, but I’ll try to keep the sarcasm to a minimum.
Full disclosure: I didn’t get to watch the game last night since I’m a poor grad student and newlywed without cable. But that doesn’t mean I can’t break down what went right (not much) and what went wrong (plenty) in the Tribe’s 6-4 loss to the Rangers last night.
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
0-for-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 SO
Choo did walk and come around to score in the 8th inning, but his inning-ending strikeout in the 5th with runners on first and second silenced what could have been a great opportunity for the Indians to get back in the game. Choo remains the best hitter for the Indians, so enjoy what could be his last month in Cleveland.
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
2-for-3, 1 BB, 1 SO
It’s always good to see Kipnis rolling, even if his hits weren’t huge parts of the Indians’ scoring. Kipnis’ .257/.330/.379 slash line could be better, but considering he’s nearing the end of his first full Major League season, I’ll take it.
3. Carlos Santana, C
0-for-4, 2 GIDP
Santana may have grounded into two double plays, but that alone doesn’t mean he’s having a poor season. Yes, we all were expecting much more from Santana, but his .245/.356/.406 slash line is really good for a catcher. The average catcher is hitting .249/.319/.401 this season; Santana is exceeding that and should only get better as he matures.
4. Russ Canzler, 1B
1-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SO, 1 E
Canzler was plenty involved with the Indians’ scoring last night, hitting a single and promptly coming around on a Matt LaPorta double and bringing in a run on a fielder’s choice. I would caution those jumping on the Canzler bandwagon, though. Even in this small sample size, Canzler isn’t getting on base much (.314 OBP) or hitting for much power (.118 ISO). There’s a reason that the Rays basically gave him away last offseason; he’s probably not a starting-caliber first baseman. Canzler also made the key error in the 2nd that led to four runs, though Jordan Bastian argued that it could have easily been another error on Jason Donald.
5. Matt LaPorta, DH
1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B
As mentioned earlier, LaPorta drove in Russ Canzler on a double in the 6th inning. That double was also the Tribe’s only extra base hit. It wasn’t a great night for the offense; I’m not quite sure how they even managed four runs.
Lonnie Chisenhall, PH-DH
0-for-0, 1 BB
Chisenhall was summoned in the 8th inning to bat for Matt LaPorta and he drew a walk. That’s nice and all, but it would be great for the potential third baseman of the future to get some at-bats against lefties so he can possibly improve. Unless there is some injury concern, there is no reason that Chisenhall should not be playing every day.
6. Brent Lillibridge, SS
0-for-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
Lillibridge managed to score after a walk in the 5th inning, but his .194/.233/.288 slash line really shows that he has no business playing frequently.
Casey Kotchman, PH
1-for-1, 1 RBI
Kotchman pinch-hit in the Tribe’s 8th inning rally and responded by knocking in Russ Canzler with an RBI single. So that’s something positive in a year of mostly negatives for Kotchman.
Vinny Rottino, PR
Rottino pinch-ran for Kotchman and stood on first base as Michael Brantley struck out. It seems like Manny Acta was doing his best to get everybody involved last night.
Jack Hannahan, SS
After all of those shenanigans, someone had to play shortstop for Brent Lillibridge. Cue Hannahan, who was 2-for-2 at short in the 8th inning.
7. Jason Donald, 3B
1-for-3, 2 E
Donald made his seventh error of the season in only his 37th game last night. While errors aren’t the best judge of defensive ability, I’m sure the Indians would like someone to fill their utility infielder role next year who can flash some ability with the glove. Right now, it seems like Donald is far from being that guy.
Michael Brantley, PH-CF
0-for-1, 1 SO
Brantley pinch-hit for Donald as the tying run and finished the 8th inning with a strikeout. Not quite hero ball, but Brantley is still enjoying a great breakout season (.285/.340/.405 slash line).
8. Thomas Neal, LF
I know that Neal wasn’t very good last night and that he’s likely a fourth outfielder at best, but it hardly seems right to only play him once a week (at best). Or to have Cord Phelps take what would have been his final plate appearances of the night. I know I’m biased on Neal, but I’d still like to see him given a real chance, not just five random games in September.
Cord Phelps, 3B
0-for-1, 1 SO
It was a boring night for Phelps, who struck out in his only at-bat and did not have the ball hit to him in his one inning in the field.
9. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
1-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 SO
Carrera got the Indians on the board with a single in the 5th inning, but it’s been a hard regression for him since his hot start. Carrera’s now hitting .253/.294/.389 and owns a .302 wOBA (89 wRC+) and really is only a fourth outfielder headed forward.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
L (9-16), 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR
There’s really not much to say about Jimenez’s outing; what more did you expect from a pitcher who came into the game with a 5.58 ERA, the third-worst among qualified starters in all of baseball. Jimenez gave up four runs in the second inning because he allowed two doubles, a single, a walk, and a hit by pitch. The defense did not help him out (which is why three of those runs were unearned), but it wasn’t like Jimenez pitched well and was a total victim of the defense. Jimenez also gave up a solo home run to Adrian Beltre to leadoff the 5th, his 24th home run allowed on the season.
Cody Allen, RP
1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO
Allen ran into trouble in the 6th inning thanks to a Leonys Martin double and stolen base and an Elvis Andrus RBI single and he also struggled in the 7th, allowing a single to Adrian Beltre and a walk to David Murphy to start the frame. Michael Young did do Allen the favor of grounding into a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat, but Allen was then relieved by Scott Barnes. Allen is still a great reliever for the Indians headed into 2013 and beyond, so hopefully his struggles are simply him learning on the job.
Scott Barnes, RP
0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO
Barnes easily put out the fire Cody Allen left him in the 7th inning, but was pulled after he allowed a leadoff double to Chris Gentry in the 8th. Luckily, Joe Smith managed to work his way out of the inning, leaving Barnes unscathed.
Joe Smith, RP
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO
After an Ian Kinsler sacrifice that put Gentry on third, Smith managed to induce an Elvis Andrus groundout and Adrian Beltre fielder’s choice (sandwiched between a Josh Hamilton intentional walk) to get out of the 8th inning. Smith remains an effective piece of the Bullpen Mafia and could slide into the set-up role next year if Chris Perez is traded.
The Indians will continue their series in Texas tonight at 8:05 with Jeanmar Gomez (5-7, 5.33 ERA) going against Ryan Dempster (10-6, 2.87 ERA).
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What we are seeing with Neal is exactly why Fedroff was not called up. There just are not enough at bats to call everyone up and also it would make no sense to call up Fedroff to sit the bench and start his Major League clock while barely playing.
IOW, a little above average offensively and below average defensively equals average overall. Hope he proves me wrong.
I agree with shy on the Wright trade. We got absolutely nothing for a starting pitcher with a nice upside if he can keep it going.