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Tribe and Padres play to 4-4 tie after 10 innings in Peoria

Tribe pitching unable to hold lead amidst defensive miscues

Tribe and Padres play to 4-4 tie after 10 innings in Peoria
Tyler Cloyd pitches two shutout innings in Indians' 4-4 tie with Padres on Saturday. (Photo: Chuck Crow)
March 8, 2014
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A tie game. 

It serves as a reminder of just how insignificant spring training exhibition records are.

While the Indians came out of the gates strong with a three-run first inning, it was defensive miscues and pitching woes that allowed the Padres to work their way back into the game and knot up the score twice, the second being the final at 4-4 after 10 innings of play.

Player of the GameMichael Brantley (4-4, 2 2B, RBI)

Three things are guaranteed in life: death, taxes and Michael Brantley's consistency at the plate.

It may only be exhibition play, but the Tribe left fielder is picking up where he left off last season, and then some, as he now has eight hits in 13 at-bats after collecting four knocks against the Padres on Saturday, including two doubles and an RBI. Brantley drove in Jason Kipnis in with a single during the Indians' three-run first.

Last month, Brantley signed a four-year/$25 million extension to stay in Cleveland through at least the year 2017. The deal also includes a team option worth $11 million for 2018.

Coming out swinging

The Indians got to new Padres right-hander Josh Johnson early on Saturday as they plated three runs on four hits.Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley inflicted the initial damage with back-to-back RBI singles and Santana scoring on a wild pitch to cap the first-inning scoring for the Tribe. Johnson would then rebound and pitch two subsequent shutout innings, but the damage was done.

Unfortunately, the pitching and defense were unable to hold that lead even after an RBI double by Asdrubal Cabrera in the top of the eighth put the Tribe ahead 4-3.

With 10 Cactus League games now in the books, the Indians have only been held to less than three runs once (1-0 W, 3/6 vs. Cubs). In that time, they have averaged 5.6 runs per game.

Of course, take exhibition stats with a grain of salt, but that kind of consistency is certainly nice to see at any point during the year.

Santana third base update

Finally got the opportunity to watch former Indians starting catcher Carlos Santana play at third base in person during live game action on Saturday.

Going by the box score, he was charged with a throwing error in the bottom of the seventh, which would eventually allow two unearned runs to score.

From actually watching him, though, I can tell you he does appear to have a general sense of familiarity with the position and has the ability to corral a ball and set up to make a play.

The two things that concern me right off the bat are his range and throwing. The latter is something that should correct itself with more regular reps seeing as how he has to learn an all new throwing motion compared to behind the plate. The range may or may not improve over time, but also may be something the Tribe could get away with considering his overall value.

One game is one game, but I can tell you that you will see Carlos Santana at the hot corner of Progressive Field more than a handful of times in 2014.

Facts and Tidbits

  • After striking out 11 batters on Saturday, Indians pitchers now have the third most strikeouts amongst American League teams this spring (90).
  • With the tie, the Indians have now gone 18-2-1 in their last 21 games (Sept. 2013, WC Game, 2014 spring training).
  • Jason Kipnis recorded multiple hits for the first time this spring with a pair of singles on Saturday.
  • After pitching in a simulated game on Friday, right-hander Danny Salazar is slated to make his 2014 Cactus League debut on Monday against the Angels in Goodyear, Indians announce.
  • Michael Bourn got the cycle on outs on Saturday with a groundout, a fly-out, a strikeout looking and a strikeout swinging.

Up next: Brewers (6-5) vs. Indians (8-1-1) @ Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch at 3:05 ET.

Josh Tomlin gets the nod as the Indians return home for four of their next five games. Making the trip to Goodyear will be the Brewers, who will be playing in two seperate games on Sunday in a split-squad effort against the Tribe and in Mesa against the Cubs. The probable starter for the Crew will be young right-hander Wily Peralta.

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

User Comments

Hermie13
March 10, 2014 - 11:49 AM EDT
I'm not sold Brantley is gonna see much more power. His power has actually been trending slightly downward each of the past 3 seasons. ISO the last 3 seasons:

2011: .118
2012: .114
2013: .112

Obviously not much of a drop, more just consistently in the same general power area. IMO though not a bad thing, power just isn't Brantley's game and honestly don't care if he hits more than 10 HRs a year.

For me the key is the walk rate. In the minors he NEVER saw his walk rate drop below 10% at any stop. So far in the big leagues only once has he been above 7% (2012 was at 8.7%). Has been sitting around 6.5-6.9% for the most part in his career. He can hit .300 all he wants but OBP won't be that special unless that walk rate increase.

Also hoping he continues to improve on the base paths. SB rates were pretty lackluster the previous two seaons (and downright terrible in 2012). Last year though up over 80%. Hope to see that continue.
Jim
March 9, 2014 - 1:07 PM EDT
Of course, some would argue that Garrett may have had some help...but my point is simply that Brantley should improve his power without losing average...it's not always mutually exclusive.
Jim
March 9, 2014 - 1:06 PM EDT
I don't think it has much to do with his "power stroke" or not. I think the power swing will become as much as his natural swing as anything else. He's too smart of a hitter. Like Garrett Anderson before him, I think you could see an increase of 10 homers or so over the years as he simply gets bigger with age.

Now, Cabrera simply changed his entire approach, and he never made the same kind of contact that Brantley does. Asdrubal had too much Orlando on the brain.

Brantley will never do that unless he is asked to, and he won't be.

The conservatives among us will say .280, but yeah, I think .300 is a natural progression for him. He has such a high IQ, and will continue to improve his pitch selection...

What's key though is that OBP. If he can live in the .350+ realm for the next five or six years...he'll be a really...really good piece to this offense...
Jake D.
March 9, 2014 - 12:57 PM EDT
Walter, I think that depends on whether or not he wants to continue to develop his power stroke. After watching him last season, he does have power potential, but he may have to sacrifice batting average for it, a la Asdrubal Cabrera.

If he sticks to his current game plan, though, I don't see why not. Hits for contact, doesn't strike out a lot and even comes through in the clutch.
nubballguy
March 9, 2014 - 12:55 PM EDT
Yes.
Walter
March 9, 2014 - 11:42 AM EDT
I know it only spring training, but is there a chance that Michael Brantley becomes a 300 hitter for the Indians this year?

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