SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 20: Center fielder Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians watches a two-run homer by Michael Saunders of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 20, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Baseball's a great game to follow in that there's a game every day, and always some new to pick up on, even if you've watched thousands of games over your lifetime. It's a sport that is fun to follow for the casual follower, but also rewards the die hard fan that has watches every single game that their favorite team plays.
The downside to that everyday play is when your favorite team is playing like the Indians. Cleveland has gone 10-26 since the second half began, and is now 4-15 in the month of August despite playing a relatively easy schedule; only one team that they've played this month (Oakland) would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. And in most of those losses, the outcome was known fairly early on, as the Tribe starter has rarely pitched well, or even pitched adequately for that matter. It's like watching a car go over a cliff, then having to watch it tumble down the side of the mountain for six weeks.
We already know that there's going to be major changes to this club, and know exactly what needs to be addressed, but there's still over a month to play and not many high-level prospects to bring up. As Adam has mentioned, there's a gap between the Kipnis-Chisenhall prospect class of 2011-2012 and the Lindor-Rodriguez class that's due in 2014-2015. Yeah, there's some somewhat interesting guys like Cord Phelps and Tim Fedroff that should get a look in September, but for the most part, what you're seeing right now is what you're going to see the rest of the way.
So the main storyline the rest of the way is to see if the current players on the roster can turn things around. Starting with Ubaldo Jimenez, who took the mound tonight. Pitching in Safeco against one of the weakest lineups in the majors was a great opportunity to start a turnaround, and although his approach was a lot better than you usually see, the results were just ok. He allowed three runs, only walked one and struck out eight, but allowed two home runs, and was pulled before finishing the sixth inning. By the post-ASB standards of the rotation, the outing was a good one, but by just any other standard it isn't. I've been holding out hope that at some point a switch is flipped and Jimenez becomes that dominant pitcher again, but I don't see that happening this year. The Indians are going to pick up his 2013 option, but they're going to have to make a difficult decisions: do you think that you fix what is wrong with Jimenez over the winter, or do you deal him for $.25-.30 on the dollar?
Jason Kipnis had a good game, which has been a rarity since the All-Star Break. He led off the contest with a home run off LGFT Kevin Millwood, and also drove in a run with a single in the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera, who in the midst of this terrible season is having another excellent year at the plate, had two hits as well, and drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth after Kipnis' game-tying RBI hit. But Jimenez allowed an Eric Thames game-tying home run with two outs in the sixth, and Tony Sipp, who was great against left-handed hitters a year ago, allowed Saunders' second homer in the following inning. The Indians had a good opportunity to tie the game in the ninth off of Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth, but Jason Kipnis grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.