Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts after the Indians 13-3 loss capped a weekend series sweep by the visiting Oakland A’s at Progressive Field:
1) It’s about time Indians manager Terry Francona dropped struggling hitters Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana in the lineup. Known for sticking with his team’s star players even through the tough times (he did it last year with Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera), the veteran skipper finally realized that he “got to a point where I felt like instead of being patient, I was being stubborn.”
2) Of course, the pair still combined to go 0-for-9 in their new slots in Sunday’s lineup. But in a mini victory, Santana hit the ball hard three times – however, right at a defender each time. Francona can’t swing the bat for the Tribe’s sluggers. He can, however, juggle the lineup occasionally to put his team in a better position to win.
3) The Indians lineup changed, but there’s no bag of tricks for Francona to pull with supposed ace pitcher Justin Masterson, who got lit up by the A’s for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings that included five walks. With the loss, Masterson dropped to 2-3 with a 5.06 ERA.
4) The Indians two best hitters to date are left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder David Murphy. Brantley, batting .287 on the season, extended his hitting streak at Progressive Field Sunday to 15 games (three away from tying the club record of 18 games by Kenny Lofton and Roberto Alomar) with a third-inning single. He also added a fifth-inning solo homer and worked a walk with the bases loaded in the sixth to drive in his second run. Murphy, batting .291, chipped in witih a 3-for-5 effort.
5) A Lonnie Chisenhall error in the second inning, a passed ball by catcher Santana in the sixth and the sixth error of the season by first baseman Swisher continued the team’s season-long theme of defensive struggles. Radio play-by-play man Tom Hamilton said it best Sunday when he quipped: “This team plays defense like it’s allergic to leather.” In our world of specialization, makes me wonder if Rawlings makes allergy-free gloves?
6) If that’s the case, the Tribe would need bats like that, too. During the weekend sweep, the Indians hit just .191 (18-for-94) and went 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
7) As if things aren’t tough enough for the Tribe already, don’t look now, but guess what club heads to town Monday to start a three-game series? Yep, the division-rival Detroit Tigers, who entered their Sunday night game at Boston riding a five-game winning streak that’s helped them to the best record in the majors at 26-12.