Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the 10-4 beating the Indians absorbed as the Tigers wrapped up the weekend sweep with a 10-4 win.
1) You know how I know the Indians off day tomorrow couldn’t come at a better time? Because after just covering the beat down that was the weekend sweep by the Tigers, I need a break, too. Seriously. The statistics that prove the disparities between Detroit’s haves and Cleveland’s have nots are so lopsided, it makes ME wonder what’s the point of even considering the idea that the Indians can compete with the Tigers for the American League Central Division title.
Ok, well maybe Jason Kipnis - and definitely Nick Swisher - need it more than I do.
After going 1-for-14 against the Tigers to cap a 3-for-26 six-game homestand, Kipnis’ batting average dropped to .241.
“I could use (the day off) more than anybody else,” the Indians second baseman proclaimed.
2) Not so, Bro. Kip could make himself feel a whole lot better by taking a gander at the ugly offensive stats of Swisher, who’s spent a lot of time recently serving as the Tribe’s designated hitter batting towards the bottom of the lineup with his fielding having become as awful as his hitting.
While a disabled list stint has provided a handful of the Indians players a much-needed mental and physical break, Mr. Bro-Hio hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of bump. Since returning to action following left knee soreness, Swisher’s batting average is practically non-existant at .194 through 58 games.
Over the first two months of the season, it seemed Swisher and Carlos Santana were competing to see who could hit worse. But while Santana has helped himself break the Mendoza Line (.202) since being sidelined with a concussion, Swisher might even be more lost. Even when Santana couldn’t hit a lick, he’d take a walk. As for Swisher, since his DL stint he own zero walks. Worse yet, over that same span, he’s racked up 18 strikeouts.
3) Another reason the Indians need Monday off? The team’s defense still stinks. Yes, I know we’ve been over and over this topic over and over already this season. But just when you think the team has seen the last of “Zombie Baseball” as one long-standing beat writer has aptly dubbed the errors that come in bunches at any given time with this year’s team, they return. With three more errors in Sunday’s debacle, the Indians increased their errors on the season to 67 in 76 games.
“Like any team, and (Detroit) especially, if you give them extra opportunities, there’s a decent chance you’re gonna pay for it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You saw what happened (in the Tigers fifth inning that was aided by two errors) when they’re coming though the middle of that lineup and you give them extra chances - they put up a seven-spot that basically took the game out of our hands.”
4) The last couple weeks have proven to be a particularly rough stretch for Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who owns six of his 14 errors over his last 15 games – not even halfway through the season. Cabrera’s miscue in the fifth inning when he dropped a ball on a potential double play Sunday was the first of two errors that added fuel to the Tigers seven-run fire.
To me at least, Cabrera has always had this aura of disinterest about him. Like he’s trying so hard to come off cool or not let anyone see how much he really does care. But recently, he just looks down right bad in the field. Certainly not the way a veteran in a contract year wants to come off.
5) Worse than all that ails the Tribe is perhaps the fact that the Tigers appear to have come out the valley that began with a three-game sweep by the Tribe last month (as hard as that is to believe right now). The May sweep that feels forever ago after this weekend’s series sent the Tigers spinning in a 9-20 slump that promptly ended this weekend – ironically right where the down turn began.
6) However, in this series, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer pitched the way their supposed to. The Detroit defense didn’t shoot itself in the foot. And the heart of the Tigers order – Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and emerging J.D.Martinez - combined to hit .351 (13-for-37) with three doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored.
“The middle of their order is unbelievable,” said Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who was tagged with eight runs but only five earned in four-plus innings. “You’ve gotta keep the first two guys in their lineup off base, and face (the slugging trio) with nobody on.”
The prevailing idea being that even a perfect pitch to all three of the hitters right now – especially the first two – can be hit. Hit hard, even. But at least the damage is limited. Instead, Tribe pitchers not only struggled to keep Detroit’s big boppers in the yard, but the guys in front of them off the base paths as well.
7) Not wanting to continue to pile on when the Tribe’s down, I’m tempted to bring up the fact that there were a couple positives to take away from the weekend. Namely that left fielder Michael Brantley returned from a “mild concussion” (which I still contend is easy to say when you’re the one whose head is spinning) and first baseman Santana (whom Francona finally admitted Sunday what had already become rather obvious – that Santana won’t be seeing any time behind the plate or at third base anytime soon) – is finally hitting consistently. Brantley continues to mash this season, batting a healthy .391 in June. Santana is batting at a .333 clip over his last 20 games.
Listen folks, it may not even come closet to Detroit’s middle of the order, but right now, it’s what the Indians have to work with.