Stephanie Storm’s 9 Final Thoughts from the Indians 5-3 loss to the host Giants Saturday at AT&T Park.
1) The Indians saw their hard-earned 3-0 lead dissipate in the blink of a four-run fifth inning Saturday afternoon, the visiting clubhouse at AT&T Park had the feel of a tomb after the game. Yet, it was understandable after having worked so hard to jump on Giants starter Tim Lincecum from the start, piece together three unanswered runs over the first five innings and chase the two-time Cy Young award winner from the game after just 4 2/3 innings, the feisty Tribe had nothing to show for it but another loss.
2) It would have been easy – but unfair – to place all the blame on starter Zach McAllister, who looked to be in control of his fourth consecutive strong outing to start the season before his command suddenly escaped him in the lengthy and fateful fifth.
3) Certainly the Indians ought to be able to withstand one bad inning in four starts from McAllister, without falling apart. But a mental error on All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis confounded McAllister’s fastball starting to drift up in the middle of the zone in the fifth by committing a mental error while getting caught up thinking too much about how to approach the ball off the bat of Hunter Pence that went skidding between Kipnis’ outstretched glove and Nick Swisher stationed at first base.
4) Kipnis deserves credit for being a standup guy afterwards in the eerie quiet of the clubhouse, not only for facing the media after spending a few contemplative starring into space in front of his locker but for trying to completely shoulder the blame for the loss.
5) “It sucks,” Kipnis said. “It cost us pretty much the game and it cost McAllister a good start. I could’ve bailed him out of that inning. It just didn’t happen. I don’t think he cares to hear that. I don’t think he needs to hear that. No one really needs to hear anything. It’s just a play that needs to be made.”
6) True. But Kipnis is human, proving that even All-Stars will make the occasional mistake. What really made his miscue and McAllister’s sudden loss of command all the worse was the combined 0-for-9 showing by the Tribe’s meat of the order in the lineup.
7) While leadoff man Michael Bourn went 2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored, No. 2 hitter Swisher chipped in two doubles and a RBI and Kipnis all but cancelled out his mistake by supplying two of the team’s three RBI, the Tribe got zilch from the meat of the order.
8) Third baseman and clean up hitter Carlos Santana’s month-long slump soldiers on, with his batting average have dissolved into nearly half of the lowly Mendoza Line at .128 with another hitless day. The Tribe’s usual top run producer - left fielder Michael Brantley - was handcuffed by the Giants for the second consecutive day with an 0-for-3 showing. Seven-hole batter, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, continues to do the Tribe and himself no favors (even as he’s likely to become a free agent after the season), with a quiet 0-for-3 showing that dropped his batting average to .218.
9) So, blame McAllister and Kipnis all you want for yet another loss in the midst of the Indians early season free fall. But that’s letting the team’s heavy lifters off the hook a little too easily.