Second Thoughts: Game #56--Tigers 7, Indians 5
June 8, 2012
|W: Crosby (1-1) L: D. Lowe (4-4) S: Valverde (10)|
The Tribe came into Thursday’s game looking to sweep the Tigers for the second time this season. Looking at the pitching matchups before this series began, you would have certainly thought that the Indians had a pretty good chance, matching up Derek Lowe against Tigers’ rookie left-hander Casey Crosby. Crosby got shelled in his major league debut against the Yankees, giving up six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
It was a rough first inning for Derek Lowe, giving up four runs right out of the gate to the Tigers on several singles and a wild pitch. It looked like he might keep the Tigers’ tally at four until he ran into more trouble in the fourth. Lowe had two outs with a runner at second before he went 3-0 to Brennan Boesch, who eventually hit a ground rule double over Michael Brantley’s head. Miguel Cabrera followed Boesch’s hit up with a 2-run homer that just barely got over the leaping glove of Shin-Soo Choo in right field to make it 7-1 Tigers.
The Indians scraped across their first run after Jason Kipnis stole second and was knocked in by Jose Lopez. The Tribe bullpen managed to hold the Tigers down long enough to let the Indians cobble together four more runs throughout the game but the Tigers hung on for the win and avoided being swept by the Indians.
What Went Right
- Not much went right for Derek Lowe Thursday afternoon as he posted 9 hits, 7 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts over five innings in the loss.
- If there were any positives from his start it’s that many of the hits he did give up were in fact grounders, but they were just hard hit balls that got through the infield. In fact, on the day Lowe produced 8 groundouts, compared to 2 flyouts.
- Jose Lopez walked in his first at-bat, put up a great 8-pitch at-bat in the 4th to drive in the Indians first run and overall went 1-2 with 2 RBIs. Lopez had what could have had the game-tying hit in the seventh but it was taken away by a leaping catch from Quentin Berry. There was a time when Lopez was a nice run producer, if he can find that stroke again, the Indians will gladly find a place for him.
- Asdrubal Cabrera delivered huge 2-run, 2 out double in the seventh, making it a two-run ball game. The Indians pitching has certainly faltered as of late, but the offense has been chugging right along, despite the absence of Travis Hafner, Carlos Santana (who was scuffling badly until yesterday’s game) and any semblance of a left fielder.
- The Indians offense certainly put up one heck of a fight Thursday, coming back from a 7-1 deficit, but I was a little disappointed they didn’t manage to come all the way back. They came so close so many times it’s disappointing that they didn’t finish the job. In reality though, the offense performed pretty well Thursday managing to make a game out of what could have been a blowout.
- Asdrubal Cabrera made another highlight reel play from the hole at shortstop in the 1st inning, proving once again why it is so important to have your best defenders on the field when Lowe is on the mound.
- The bullpen was spectacular, keeping the Tribe in the game long enough that the Indians actually were able to put some pressure back on the Tigers after being down 7-1 after the fourth inning.
- Scott Barnes came on to relieve Lowe and he went two innings, giving up no hits, no walks and one strikeout.
- Jeremy Accardo took care of the final inning giving up a walk, a hit and a strikeout.
What Went Wrong
- Derek Lowe struggled from the first pitch Thursday afternoon. He struggled with location all day, only throwing 48 of his 80 pitches for strikes. While many of the hits he gave up were groundballs they were sinkers he left up in the zone that Tigers’ hitters got solid contact on and drove through the infield.
- It looked for a while that Lowe was going to settle down after the first inning and hold the Tigers to four runs but Lowe got himself into trouble again in the 4th allowing the Tigers to put up a three spot that would ultimately prove to be the difference in the game.
- With Lowe struggling to locate his pitches he ran up his pitch count pretty quickly on Thursday. That’s a problem for Lowe since opponents bat .276 off him for the first 45 pitches and .356 after the 45 pitch mark. On Thursday, Lowe passed 45 pitches in the third inning, and then gave up three more runs in the fourth.
- There was a left-hander on the mound Thursday afternoon, and Shelley Duncan got the start in left field. I have no problem with that decision. Duncan is on this team to punish left-handers right? Too bad he went 0-3 and left three men on base. If Duncan can’t play left field very well and can’t hit left-handers very well, he’s not giving the Tribe many reasons to keep him around. Case and point in a 4-1 game, runners on first and third and one out with Duncan at the plate with a 3-0 count. Duncan grounds a double play. There is no excuse. You must get the runner from third home. There’s no debate about that. Sometimes a strikeout isn’t the worst outcome.
- Carlos Santana smoked a ball to left field to start the 2nd inning and was easily thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The ball certainly hit the wall funny and died right on the warning track for Don Kelly, but right after the Tigers put up four runs it sure would have been nice to start the next inning with a man on base.
The Indians continue their road trip today as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in interleague play at 8:15 EST. Josh Tomlin (2-3, 5.32 ERA) will look to turn in a quality start against the Cardinals and former Indian Jake Westbrook (4-5, 4.23 ERA).
Jason can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
However, the problem yesterday was the five hits in the first inning. Three of them were to the opposite field and one was up the middle. The Tigers had a good strategy (not to try and pull the ball) and Lowe couldn't adjust.
Miguel Cabrera is just amazing. In the last two games he hit two home runs and a double - all to right field. Even when you get two strikes on him he's not in trouble. He just waits longer on the pitch and takes it the other way. The only weakness I saw was a tendency to swing at low sliders. Barnes struck him out on three of them.
In the words of the great philosopher Meat Loaf: "Two out of three ain't bad." I'll be happy with that against the Cardinals. It will be nice to see old friend Jake Westbrook tonight.