CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 24: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches to Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on August 24, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
What is it now? 9 losses in a row? I'm losing track.
The game was a lot closer than it should have been thanks to Corey Kluber's Houdini acts in the early innings, and if the Indians had any semblance of a bottom of the order, they probably would have at least tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Kluber's first inning was so bad that Chris Seddon started to throw in the bullpen after Kluber had faced just two batters. Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher started the game with a double apiece, and Robinson Cano walked to give the Yankees two runners on nobody out and a run in. But Kluber would manage to extricate himself from the jam. He retired Mark Teixeira on a line drive to Choo in right, then gave up a sharp single to right to load the bases. But he would get out of the inning by striking out Eric Chavez and getting Russell Martin to fly out.
Kluber ran into trouble in the second inning as well. After striking out Raul Ibanez, he allowed a single to Ichiro before beaning Derek Jeter. The ball luckily glanced off the ear flap on Jeter's helmet, and the Yankee shortstop would stay in the game. Swisher then walked to load the bases again, but Kluber induced a ground-ball double play to end another threat. After that, Kluber would settle down, but because of all those pitches in the early innings, he would only go five frames.
Former Tribe pitcher CC Sabathia was making his first start after a stint on the DL for elbow soreness, but you wouldn't know he'd been off for several weeks. He retired the first 10 Indians he faced. Then, after falling behind 1-0 to Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth, he attempted to retaliate for the Jeter beaning in the second, but his pitch intended for Cabrera's hip sailed behind the Indians shortstop. The home plate umpire then warned both benches, and that was that (note to other umpires - this is how you handle these types of situations). On the very next pitch, Cabrera jumped on a Sabathia changeup hitting the ball out over the center field fence to tie the game.
Tonight was Matt LaPorta's first game in an Indians uniform in quite awhile, and it appears that he'll be playing regularly from now until the end of the season. The knock on LaPorta has been an inability to hit or lay off of offspeed pitches, and if you go by tonight's game, it doesn't look like he's gotten any better at it. He hit two sharp ground balls in his two at-bats, one of which got through the infield. but while batting with runners on first and third with two outs, Sabathia fed him a steady diet of offspeed pitches, and struck him out to end the inning. The Indians had opportunities in both the fifth and sixth innings, but couldn't push the go-ahead run across off Sabathia, who would pitch into the eighth inning.
After Tony Sipp pitched a scoreless sixth, Cody Allen came out for the seventh inning, which I believe was his first opportunity in a game where the Indians were tied or had the lead late. The first batter (Jeter) hit a slow grounder up the middle that Asdrubal Cabrera fielded but threw wildly, and the ball got past LaPorta and into the camera bay, allowing Jeter to go to third. Then Swisher took Allen deep, and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead. The two runs were the first ones given up by Allen; he would finish the inning, but the damage had been done.
Nothing illustrates the fatal flaw of this lineup more than the ninth inning. Against Yankee closer Rafael Soriano the first two Indians (Santana and Brantley) singled, and Brantley would quickly move to second after Soriano uncorked a wild pitch. But LaPorta struck out, Ezequiel Carrera (batting for Brent Lillibridge) popped out, Casey Kotchman (hitting for Shelley Duncan) was intentionally walked after Soriano fell behind him 3-0, and Jack Hannahan (hitting for Jason Donald) grounded out to end the game. With Travis Hafner out 4/9 of the lineup have been taken by replacement-level players, and if the best you can do at the end of a game is LaPorta/Carrera/Kotchman/Hannahan, then that's a rather large indictment on the state of your 25-man roster.