Seventeen final thoughts after another Tribe starter fails to make it through the fifth inning against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
1. Indians manager Terry Francona thought the turning point of the game came in the bottom of the fifth after the Tribe had rallied with three runs to tie the score in the top of the inning. That’s when he needed starter Carlos Carrasco and reliever Marc Rzepczynski to hold the White Sox scoreless. Instead they issued four walks, two by each pitcher, and the White Sox turned them, along with an RBI single by Conor Gillaspie, into two runs.
2. “That’s a big inning,” Francona said. “When you score and tie it up you’ve got to go back out and kind of take charge of the game and they just kept scoring every inning.” The White Sox scored at least one run every inning starting in the third.
3. Carrasco lasted just 4.2 innings and said he was tired in the fourth and fifth. No one was sure why, although he said he was battling to keep his arm higher, an off-season change in his delivery. Apparently that wore him out. “Carlos in the fifth slowed down his tempo,” Francona said. “You could tell he was fighting through some of his mechanics.”
4. Through the first 10 games before Friday, Rzepczynski was the best pitcher in the Tribe bullpen. Francona said he wants him to have the ball in big situations, especially against left-handers. “It didn’t work tonight. It will,” Francona said.
5. Rzepczynski entered with runners at first and second and two out and designated hitter Adam Dunn up. Dunn bats left-handed, so the situation was perfect for Rzepczynski. But he walked Dunn on four pitches, then walked Dayan Viciedo to force in another run.
6. “Just overthrowing today,” Rzepczynski said. “The slider was too hard. I looked up and I was 87 or 88, I’m better at 84 with it because I can control it more and it breaks more in the zone.”
7. After falling behind 3-0 to Dunn, Rzepczynski said he “tried to throw a good sinker and just missed down. The last time I faced him I fell behind 3-0 and he swung. So I wasn’t just trying to lay it in there. I just missed with that. Any time you go 0-2 to a guy (Viciedo) you can’t walk him, either. I’ve been throwing the ball well. It’s just one of those games. I’ll be right back out there tomorrow and go back to doing what I was doing.” He still has no ERA in 6.1 innings of work.
8. The Tribe bullpen has been called on too early too often this season. Carrasco’s outing marked the fifth time a Tribe started failed to finish five innings. But Rzepczynski, making his sixth appearance, didn’t make excuses.
9. “I actually felt great today,” he said. “Sometimes when I feel great I try to do too much. Sometimes when I’m tired I just let my natural sinker and slider take over and I don’t try to overthrow. Tonight I was overthrowing so much. I’ll go out there and breathe tomorrow and relax and go back to doing what I’ve been doing the entire time here.”
10. Rzepczynski came to the Indians last July 30 in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Juan Herrera. Rzepczynski has made 33 appearances for the Indians over two seasons and he’s already Francona’s go-to guy. He’s only 28.
11. There will be no trepidation if Dunn comes to the plate on Saturday or Sunday against Rzepczynski. “It’s one game,” he said. “In my time here I’ve throw the ball right. I have faith in myself. If I have to face Dunn again tomorrow I’ll go after him and strike him out again. That’s one of those games that didn’t work out my way. I’m not going to worry about it.”
12. The situation does not look as promising for Blake Wood, who entered the game in the eighth and walked four (one intentionally) of the seven batters he faced. Francona loves a deep bullpen and has eight relievers now, but may have to lose one when Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi come off the disabled list. Wood, who underwent reconstructive right elbow surgery in 2012 and spent the first half of last season rehabbing, could be a candidate for demotion when they return.
13. “The arm is good," Francona said of Wood. "It’s nice to see him throw back-to-back days and throw the ball like he was. He was having a hard time commanding it.”
14. For the night, five Indians pitchers issued nine walks. They entered Friday with the fifth-most walks (37) in the American League.
15. The Indians chipped away with single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth, but Francona didn’t sound like he expected a comeback. “(Chris) Sale’s a really good pitcher and we did a pretty good job to fight back in that game. It’s just hard to keep coming back. We’ve got to put up a zero at some point.”
16. Francona got 3.2 innings out of Thursday’s starter Danny Salazar and 4.2 out of Carrasco. But he didn’t accuse his young starters of losing focus. “I didn’t say losing focus,” he said. “I think there’s a difference. Sometimes the game’s not as easy as it may look to you. Young pitchers, sometimes it’s not perfect.”
17. That said, pitching coach Mickey Callaway was not happy about the short outing from Salazar before the game and was very animated in his trips to the mound to talk to Carrasco.