June 17, 2013
OK, let's get the annoying [stuff] over with first.
It's the ninth inning. There are runners on first and second with nobody out. Left-handed hitter David Lough steps up the plate. He's probably bunting. So why bring in Rich Hill, who has been as bad as any reliever still in the majors for that type of situation. And you know that after that bunt, Ned Yost isn't going to let Mike Moustakas, who has been as bad as hitter still in the majors, to hit in that situation. I think you either have to leave Bryan Shaw in, or bring in another right-handed reliever. Now Rich Hill's presence didn't really affect the outcome of that inning, because a run would have scored whether the bases loaded or just runners on second and third, but the use of Rich Hill in that high-leverage situation still rankles me. This is the middle of June, and the Indians obviously are flailing around for other options with the signings of Clay Rapada and J.C. Romero (who just went on the DL in Columbus). If the Indians had another left-handed option, Hill probably wouldn't be here, but just because he's on the roster doesn't mean to have to use him in that situation.
That rant aside, the real reason the Indians lost this game wasn't because of Rich Hill, but because Carlos Santana couldn't block a pitch in front of him. The go-ahead run score with nobody out, but as it turned out, if that ball didn't go through Santana's legs, the Royals wouldn't have scored that inning, and the Indians would have gone to the bottom of the ninth against a different reliever.
That leads to my second point, or rather, a pointed rhetorical question. Why was John McDonald batting in the ninth inning with the team down a run? John McDonald, who in his 15-year major-league career, has career OPS+ of 60? Yan Gomes, who could have tied the game with one swing of the bat, was on the bench. To me, the fact that Francona was "forced" to use both Hill and McDonald in that situation should be a sign for Chris Antonetti to make a call to Columbus. Even if the organization feels that Lonnie Chisenhall needs to spend more time in Columbus, you could call up Cord Phelps, who has played first base and the outfield. You may say that Swisher is only going to down for a couple more games. Well, having a functional hitter on the bench might have help the Indians win tonight. I've never liked the eight-man bullpen to begin with, but now that the Indians are down to a two-man bench, I like it even less, if possible.
Now to the good stuff. Carlos Carrasco, whose 2013 has been chaotic to say the least, came off his suspension and pitched the best game of his major-league career. All that potential you saw in him in 2010 and 2011 became reality for at least one night. OK, it was the Royals, who this season has been one of baseball most inept offenses, and Carrasco was greatly helped by his outfield defense, but (a) the Royals have been hitting much better of late and (b) Carrasco was dealing with a very small strike zone. The Indians chased James Shields after six innings largely because Shields wasn't getting the corners, but Carrasco was going strong into the eighth inning, and would have gone longer if not for the 1-0 score. But because Eric Hosmer hit a dying quail that fell in no-man's land, he not only a run tacked on to his pitching line, but also lost the potential of getting the win.
The Indians walked eight times and collected five hits (one of them a solo homer), but could manage just the one run. They loaded the bases with one out in the third and couldn't score, and had runners on base almost every inning between the third and the end of the game. Now you feel like the Nationals fans felt yesterday.
So it wasn't just the offense, and it wasn't just the top of the ninth inning, but both mixed together that led to this galling defeat.
Roll Call (33 Commenters)
|1||Mr. Bad Example||55|
|20||The Guys Get Shirts!||10|