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Second Thoughts: Game #52 - Twins 7, Indians 4

Second Thoughts: Game #52 - Twins 7, Indians 4
June 3, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
MIN 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 7 12 0
CLE 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 4 9 0
W: Duensing (1-2) L: Tomlin (2-3) S: Capps (11)

Player of the Game: Joe Mauer (3-for-5 with 3 RBI and a 2-run home run)

The Leadoff

What started out as an early four run deficit for the Indians proved to be all the Twins would need, as the last place Central Division rivals escaped with a 7-4 victory against the Tribe on Saturday. While Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin would give up four runs in the first inning, he settled in nicely and held Minnesota to just those four runs over the next four innings. The game clincher came on a solo home run by Trevor Plouffe off Tomlin in the sixth inning.

Going into the game having won 11 of their last 12 meetings with the Twins, the Indians now find themselves losers of six of their last eight ballgames.

The Bottom 9

  • Starting pitching nowhere close to consistent. Nothing can put a team into a deeper hole and generate losing streaks more than inconsistent starting pitching. Over their last eight games, Indians starting pitchers are just 2-6 with a 9.52 ERA in 40 2/3 innings. If the Indians and the word playoffs ever want to coexist, the Tribe is going simply need to get more quality outings from their starting staff. Anyway Derek Lowe can start every game? 
  • Tomlin’s first inning struggles continue. For some reason the first inning has not been nice to Tomlin in 2012, as the Twins batted around for four runs on five hits right out of the gate on Saturday. In seven starts this year, the Indians right hander now has a 10.29 ERA pitching in the first inning. At this point it could just be that Tomlin has a hard time getting settled in early in the ballgame, or it even could be a slight mental issue.
  • Tying the game and letting it slip away. After the Tribe battled back to tie the game in the fifth inning, Tomlin gave the game right back to the Twins as Trevor Plouffe hit a solo shot to the bleachers in left field and seemingly never looked back.
  • Impact of Plouffe HR offensively. Plouffe not only gave the Twins the lead for good in the sixth inning, but he sucked the wind right out of Indians offensively as well. Tribe hitters would go just 1-for-13 the rest of the game against the Minnesota bullpen after the Minnesota third baseman’s sixth home run of the season.
  • Offense had chances and blew it. Cleveland went just 2-for-8 with RISP last night leaving seven runners on base. There was no bigger chance to score runs and take the lead in the game than when Johnny Damon struck out with runners on second and third base in the bottom of the fifth inning. If Damon comes through with a base hit there and the Tribe takes the lead, there’s no question it could have easily been a game changer for the Indians in my mind.
  • That’s Tony Sipp everybody. With the Tribe down 5-4 in the seventh inning, Indians skipper Manny Acta called on Tony Sipp to pitch. The left-hander had one job to do: to keep the game at a one run deficit and give the offense a chance to comeback late. That was far from what Sipp delivered on, as he gave up a two-run HR to Joe Mauer in the inning, taking away any late inning magic along with it. Sipp has now given up two runs in each of his last three of four outings spanning just 4 2/3 innings. Why not put in Nick Hagadone in that situation instead of Sipp? Come on Acta, you can make better moves than this! You have to wonder how much longer Sipp will even be a part of this team, as his ERA is now a dismal 6.86 on the year.
  • Choo racking up strikeouts. Not only is Shin-Soo Choo in a small slump offensively, hitting just .192 (5-for-26) over his last seven games, but is striking out at an alarming rate as well. The Indians right fielder has struck out 10 times in his last six games and has had two strikeouts in a game in three of his last four. I think pitchers are finally making adjustments to the Tribe’s new leadoff hitter, or Choo himself is trying to do too much in the leadoff spot. Either way he is the table setter for the offense sitting at the top of the lineup so Choo needs to start getting on base anyway he can.
  • National TV. With the game broadcasted on Fox-8 last night, the Indians didn’t show up and play their best ball on the bright lights of national television. Sure we’re used to the non recognition by the national media and always being the underdog, but it would have been nice for the Tribe to at least get a victory to show a bigger audience just what Cleveland Indians are all about in 2012. Also, could the game itself get a worse television announcer than Mitch Williams?
  • Last Tribe game at home for a while on Sunday. Not sure how many of you Tribe fans have looked at the Indians schedule for the next week and a half or so, but the team does not play another home game at Progressive Field until June 15 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the three-game series versus the Pirates, Cleveland hosts Cincinnati for three games before hitting the road again until July. That’s right, just SIX home games left in the month of June after Sunday’s game against the Twins. With the Indians already struggling to draw fans, having a total of nine home games in June is just absolutely ridiculous and bad luck I guess.

The Top 5

  • Tribe made a comeback. Even with Minnesota going up by four runs early, that didn’t stop the Indians from going quietly into the night. Tribe hitters chipped away at the early deficit and eventually tied the game 4-4 in the fifth inning. Although the comeback ultimately fell short, it was nice to see the lineup not give up and keep fighting for more.
  • Two words: Michael. Brantley. With an RBI single in the fifth inning, Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games on the year. The Indians center fielder is hitting .357 (15-for-42) over the 11 game stretch with nine RBI, and is now batting .400 (6-for-15) hitting fifth in the Tribe lineup.
  • Middle of the order produces. Hitters 2 thru 5 last night (Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Lopez, and Brantley) all contributed with at least one hit in the ballgame and three of the four Indians runs as well. With Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana out of the lineup, it is good to see these four hitters starting to really come into their own offensively.
  • Nice crowd at the ballpark.  Maybe it was the fact that it was a cool but pleasant 71 degrees, or maybe the fact that it was country night at Progressive Field with fireworks synced to country music, either way 25,469 fans came out to see the Tribe battle the Twins on Saturday night. A decent crowd, but just wish the Indians gave everyone a win to take home with in the end.
  • LaPorta to join team. Well it looks like some Tribe fans will finally get their wish on Sunday, as Matt LaPorta is set to finally join the big league club for the first time this year. With Johnny Damon going on paternity leave for the next three days, LaPorta has what could be his last chance to see what he can do offensively in the Major Leagues. I personally think he will surprise a lot of fans and put up good numbers at the plate and will be up with the club longer than many people think. He could just be the right handed bat the Indians have desperately needed all season long.

Closing Time

Losing last night’s ballgame, the Indians (28-24) remain 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the Central Division, as the Pale Hose finally snapped their nine game winning streak. The Tribe has now lost six of their last eight games after going 8-2 over a 10 game stretch just two weeks ago.

Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will look to take the series in the rubber match against Minnesota on Sunday, as it will be Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.14 ERA) vs. Scott Diamond (3-1, 2.27 ERA) at 3:05 pm. The Indians may have their hands full against Diamond as the team is just 4-11 against left-handed starters this season.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

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