Fourteen final thoughts as I write about baseball and watch hockey. As of this typing, the Blue Jackets are down 3-2 entering the third intermission. Twenty minutes to go.
1. We talked to Nick Swisher before and after the game today. Both times, he essentially said that everything's fine, it's going to be fine, nobody's worried. He's not happy with the 7-10 start, but he's also not worried in the least.
2. The Indians did start 5-10 last year, and they're 7-10 this year.
3. Some positives of that number: Swisher, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera all have batting averages below .250 right now. On most days, that's your No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 hitters. Only missing from the top six in the lineup is Michael Bourn, who is just returning from a hamstring injury, and Michael Brantley, who's played very well.
4. Another positive is that the Indians have played uncharacteristically bad defense. Last season the Indians were 10th in the American League in fielding percentage (.983) and 11th in errors (98), which means they weren't very good, but not terrible, either. This year, they're about tied with Oakland as being the worst defensive fielding team in the AL thus far with a .974 fielding percentage and 16 errors, tied with the A's for the most. The Indians also have three passed balls, more than Oakland.
5. Blue Jackets just missed a goal on a power play about three times.
6. Yan Gomes has also been pretty erratic. He has five errors and three passed balls already this season—he had just three errors and four passed balls all of last year. Francona said today he likes that aggressiveness out of a catcher who has an arm like Gomes'.
7. Those three things should correct themselves back to the norms. But the Indians have also gotten great performances from Lonnie Chisenhall and David Murphy that most likely won't last.
8. So while Nick Swisher is right—we're only 17 games into a 162-game season and 7-10 isn't terrible baseball—7-10 isn't fantastic and there are still a lot of question marks (Justin Masterson, Kluber, Swisher, Santana, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco to name a few). As with most things, it's probably wise to not get too hot or cold this early.
9. Carrasco has his third start tomorrow, and it might be a crucial one for him. Francona has talked several times this year about what Carrasco has shown at times or in the bullpen, but he hasn't put it together. The Indians are giving him his chance to do that, but that leash might be getting shorter if he continues to struggle and Trevor Bauer continues to have an ERA under 1 and strikes out 1.5 batters per inning. Carrasco is out of options, so he'd either have to clear waivers or be put in the bullpen, but Bauer's potential might force it.
10. Holy Cow Jack Johnson just tied the game 3-3 with six minutes to go.
11. Another problem that needs to be corrected: situational hitting. The Indians are 24th in baseball with runners in scoring position (.208) and 27th with runners in scoring position and two outs (.136).
12. Francona said that when good hitters get hot, they get really hot. That could be Kipnis, Santana or Swisher any day. But it could not happen, and the Indians could continue to slide.
13. The AL Central looks to be very competitive for at least part of the season, with every team being within 1.5 games of Detroit except for Cleveland at 2.5 games back. That could be encouraging, and Swisher could be right. But there surely reasons to be optimistic in Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago and Minnesota as well.
14. 1:30 to go, Pittsburgh just narrowly missed the game winner. I'll see ya in overtime, maybe.