Eighteen final thoughts as the Indians failed to close out their first four-game series sweep of the season.
1. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com was in Detroit for much of the series and reported the Indians are looking for a top of the rotation starter to pair with right-hander Corey Kluber before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He said talks with the Tampa Bay Rays are continuing about David Price, but a Rosenthal source put the Indians’ chances of landing Price at less than one percent.
2. It’s easy to see why General Manager Chris Antonetti is exploring the market. At the moment, the Indians have Kluber and Trevor Bauer and no one else dependable in the starting rotation. (Raise your hand if you thought coming out of spring training that Bauer’s name would have been mentioned in that sentence.) Their roster for the Tigers’ series had three starters (Kluber, Josh Tomlin and Bauer) and 10 relievers.
3. Justin Masterson is either hurt, distraught because he’s losing millions in his contract year or feeling the burden of what the Indians’ two- or three-year offer in spring training (reportedly about $14 million per year) would have meant not just to his family, but to the charitable causes he supports. He’s on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation and pitched Sunday evening for Triple-A Columbus. He could have pitched his way out of the Indians’ future plans, unless he’s found to have a serious injury.
4. Home runs plague Josh Tomlin. Danny Salazar may not be ready to stay in the majors, although he’ll get another chance Tuesday in Minnesota. Zach McAllister, once considered an equal of Kluber, has seen his stock fall while Kluber’s rises. Carlos Carrasco is thriving in the bullpen. T.J. House is a fearless strike-thrower who thus far has been relegated to spot starts and injury fill-in duty.
5. Where’s Aaron Harang when you need him? Oops, Atlanta. Released by the Indians this spring, Harang is 9-6 with a 3.36 ERA for the Braves.
6. If they want to contend, even for a wild card playoff spot, the Indians need a starter. Happy hunting, Chris.
7. After the Indians came back from the All-Star break and went 3-1 against the Tigers, manager Terry Francona didn’t want to discuss the big picture, even if it was just four days, which included a day/night doubleheader Saturday.
8. “I’d rather we keep it in the present,” Francona said. “When we win or we lose I don’t want us to get too up or too down. If you start going back and making yourself feel too good about what you did before, that’s not real helpful. We’re not going to put our tail between our legs because we lost today, but that’s what was out there. Both teams played a lot of baseball and they did a better job today than we did.”
9. Nick Swisher, however, loves nothing better than to talk about the Tribe’s fortunes.
10. “This was a game we really wanted to get. They got that early lead and Tomlin did a great job giving us at least a chance to stay in that game, but we weren’t able to get it done,” Swisher said as the Indians fell behind 2-0 after one inning.
11. To no one’s surprise, Swisher was upbeat despite the fact that the Indians still trail the Tigers by 51/2 games in the AL Central.
12. “The way we played here in this series lets everyone know where we stand,” he said. “We’ve got the right mindset going into the second half.”
13. Last year the Indians were 4-15 against the Tigers. This year they are 7-5. Searching for an explanation, Swisher said, “I can’t really put my finger on one thing. Last year left a real bad taste in our mouth the way the series went. We know we’re a much better team than that. If you look back at the standings last year, we finished one game behind one of the best teams in baseball and we lost 18 out of 18 games, it felt like. You win a couple games against a squad like that, you’re right there at the top of the division.”
14. Swisher also cited stints on the disabled list by himself, Masterson, Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis as a reason the Indians are 50-48.
15. “This year we’ve dealt with a lot of things we haven’t dealt with in the past,” Swisher said. “There’s a lot more injuries than we’ve had to deal with in the past. We’ve got a great attitude going into it, we’re confident and regardless of who we put out there, we’re going to get the job done.”
16. Part of the reason the Indians went 3-1 against the Tigers was that they kept in check their No. 3 and 4 hittters, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The duo managed only one RBI, that by Martinez with a sacrifice fly Sunday. Martinez, the ex-Indian and five-time All-Star, went 3 for 15. Cabrera, the defending two-time AL MVP, was 6 for 16. That’s 9 for 31(.290) between the two, which doesn’t sound impressive until the RBI total is included.
17. Asked about the pitchers’ strong effort against the two, Francona said, “You’re not kidding. The last series they played at our place I think we got through them once without getting nicked up. That’s a huge reason why they’re good. A lot of good players, but those guys in the middle are pretty special and I thought our guys pitched them pretty well.”
18. In the series, the Indians hit .377 with 16 runs in the seventh through ninth innings and .214 with five runs in the first through sixth.