Fifteen final thoughts after the Indians were swept by the White Sox and went 2-5 on the road trip to Chicago and Baltimore.
1. The Indians knew they had some bad karma going before the game. So a little more than three hours before first pitch the visiting clubhouse crew changed the Indians jerseys from grey to navy.
2. That decision comes at the discretion of the starting pitcher, in this case rookie T.J. House, making his second career start in the majors. It was obvious he had help. “They asked what I wanted to do and I said, ‘I’ll do blue,’” House said. “I think the guys wanted to change it up a little bit and see if they could get a little bit more mojo with that uniform on.”
3. Even as he praised House, Indians manager Terry Francona’s real thoughts about the struggles of his team seeped through. “I thought he was tremendous,” Francona said of House, who gave up one run on five hits, walked one and struck out eight. “He pounded the zone, both sides of the plate, worked down, worked quick. He was really good. On a night that we’re going home pretty frustrated that was about an encouraging a start as you’ll see.”
4. Some of the frustration comes from the fact that the Indians haven’t had their whole team together yet. Third baseman/catcher and first baseman Nick Swisher just went to the disabled list this week, right-hander Zach McAllister last week. Center fielder Michael Bourn and designated hitter Jason Giambi started the season on the DL; second baseman Jason Kipnis landed there on May 2 and just returned Wednesday.
5. Asked about the 24-30 start, Giambi said, “It wasn't extremely warm early. We haven't really played with a full deck yet. We get somebody back and somebody goes back on. That makes it tough. Hopefully we keep battling. It's not a lack of effort. Guys are working hard. Guys are out there early.
6. “We're just not clicking right now,” Giambi continued. “We take two steps forward and we take two steps back. Hopefully we can put it together. This game is tough. Sometimes you get momentum. Sometimes you fall back. The biggest thing is we have to keep our heads up and keep playing baseball. It'll come around. You just hope that you don't fall too far behind.”
7. The Indians have lost four in a row and lost four out of the last six road series. Today will be their first off day since May 12; they’ve played 16 games in 16 days. That includes back-to-back 13-inning affairs and a marathon Tuesday that included a rain delay of 2:39. “Everybody’s dragging a little bit, and we need to go home and take the day off, use it to our advantage and then come out and get after it,” Francona said.
8. A couple nuggets about the game. Two White Sox who played a key part, right-hander Hector Noesi and right fielder Moises Sierra were waiver claims this year. Noesi, still looking for his first decision in over two years and 0-14 over his last 40 games, was picked up April 25 from the Texas Rangers. On Wednesday, he gave up one run (Giambi’s second homer of the season on a high changeup) on five hits and struck out five. Sierrra, who drove in the winning run with a walk-off single in the ninth, was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on May 3.
9. House, called up from Triple-A to fill in for McAllister, wanted to show he was more than the next man up and impressive in his second start. “I think the majority of it was just being able to command the inside part of the zone a little bit, get them backed off the plate,” House said. “I was going back to my changeup whenever I had them 1-2, 0-2, I was going to my slider, and it was real good tonight."
10. Giambi lauded both House and Noesi. “A great-pitched game by both guys. They were both locating and hitting their spots,” Giambi said. “It was a great game to watch. It was unbelievable.”
11. That may not make anyone feel better on the trip home. The Indians wasted a strong start by House. They’ve done the same in several of Corey Kluber’s starts. Even when they get strong outings from the rotation, which was supposed to be their Achilles heel, they can’t come through with runners in scoring position.
12. Center fielder Michael Bourn admitted before the game he’s already watching the standings. Even though the Indians swept Detroit last week, they’re 7.5 games behind the Tigers. Falling too far behind is a realistic fear. Last year they finished August 8.5 games back and still earned an AL Wild Card berth, so there is hope, especially if the Indians get all their pieces back together.
13. “Four or five games under .500, that’s not a lot in baseball,” Bourn said before the game. “You don’t know when your time is going to come. We have a lot of talent in this room, a lot of talent, and we know it. It’s just about putting it together. We’re still kind of young at some spots. As long as we keep certain people’s heads above water and keep ‘em going ... you know when you’re young, I’ve been there before. Things might not go exactly like you want and you might not think you can climb out of that hole, but you can. One game at a time is the formula. We’ve got big G to helps us do stuff like that. His best attribute is keeping everybody going well.
14. “I like our team, I like our chemistry, we come to the park ready to play every day. We’re not really worried about what happened yesterday. If we did win we’re going to carry it over, if we lost we forget about it and get on to the next day. That’s one good thing about our team. I think we have a chance to do something special.”
15. Hopefully a day off will remind the Indians of that.