Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians error-filled 5-1 loss to the visiting Houston Astros Friday night at Progressive Field.
1) Errors, errors and more errors. With two more (incredibly costly) defensive errors in Friday’s game, the Indians are one away from reaching 100 with six weeks (35 games to be exact) to go in the season. Consider the club had 98 all of last season.
But add a collapse in all-around fundamentals with two base running blunders as well, and it’s hard to see this club making another late postseason push like last year.
2) “We have about six weeks left,” manager Terry Francona said. “If we want to continue to be in this thing we have to play a lot cleaner. We’re the type of team where we can’t play like that and expect to win. We need to play clean.”
3) Being smart on the base paths is also crucial for a team like the Indians, who struggle to score runs. Yet, it was two consecutive base running gaffes that cost them in the bottom of the eighth inning. With no outs, Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez each reached safely. Then Aviles got caught in a run down between second and third and Holt was thrown out soon afterwards trying to steal third.
“Mikey got too aggressive…and got (caught) in no man’s land,” Francona said of Aviles.
And the rookie Holt?
“You have to be pretty sure you’re going to make it,” Francona said. “Again, with youth comes some youthful mistakes. I don’t want him to play like (he’s) afraid of making mistakes but we have an obligation to talk to our guys just to make sure they understand things like that.”
4) Holt, who stole 31 bases in 98 minor league games this season, said he didn’t think it was a mistake trying to go for it late.
“Unfortunately, it happened to us and kinda in the wrong spot,” he said. “I don’t wanna say it waterfalled, but it kinda just (did as we) tried to make something happen afterwards,” he said. “Trying to steal third, (that was) completely my decision. If I did something wrong, I’ll find out tomorrow. But I don’t think so. I think (stealing bases) is why I’m here.”
5) As Friday’s game proved, you can’t pin this loss – or any over the last 11 games – on the Tribe’s pitching staff. In Carlos Carrasco’s third start since rejoining the starting rotation, Friday the right-hander turned in another strong six innings against the Astros. Over the Indians last 11 games, the rotation owns a 1.88 ERA. That’s 14 earned runs over 67 innings. Furthermore, since Aug. 8, they’ve also racked up 71 strikeouts and issued only 17 walks, while holding opponents to a .177 average against.
“(Carrasco) was very good,” Francona said. “He ups his pitch count every outing by at least 10 pitches, so he’s building up. Shoot, he gave up his first run (since coming back as a starter). He’s done a real good job. Even as he starts to tire, he executes and follows the game plan. He’s been a bright spot.”
6) Along the way, Carrasco recorded a season-high eight strikeouts and pushed his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 16 (one shy of the Tribe’s season high) when he gave up a lead off home run to shortstop Merwin Gonzalez in the fifth inning.
After logging back-to-back scoreless starts since returning the rotation Aug. 10 in a series at the New York Yankees, Carrasco has limited the opposition to one earned run over 18 innings (owning a 0.50 ERA during that span) while racking up 17 strikeouts, issuing only two walks and holding opposing batters to seven hits, a .117 batting avaerage and two extra-base hits (a double and homer).
7) Aside from Jose Canseco and Miguel Cabrera, who isn’t stunned by the power being flashed by newcomer Zach Walters? The Tribe’s new designated hitter erased Houston’s 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with his eighth home run of the season. In his 10 games with the Tribe, it marked his fifth homer (and seventh RBI), with a long ball coming in each of his last three games.
Walters was acquired by the Tribe from Washington in exchange for veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. And it’s not just the number of home runs, but the clutch situation in which they’re coming. All five homers with the Indains have either given the Tribe the lead (three) or tied the score (two).
8) So, what does Canseco and Cabrera have to do with Walters? In separate chance meetings with the sluggers over the last couple years, each were nice enough on pass on some batting tips that are paying big dividends. Walters has gone to play on Canseco’s summer softball team, and Canseco even took time Friday to travel to Cleveland to take in the game and catch up with his new buddy.
A couple hours after the game, the former 17-year major leaguer and author tweeted the following from his Twitter account @JoseCanseco: “Glad Zach Walters from @Indians is hitting for more power. He will be something special soon.”