Indians set franchise record for strikeouts, lose series opener to Royals

Ed Zurga

The Indians dropped the series opener in Kansas City, preventing them from moving into the second Wild Card spot.

September 16

Royals 7, Indians 1

The emotional swings from day to day (or even inning to inning) can be incredibly dramatic when your favorite team is in contention. How many times this year have we seen a large number of Tribe fans declare the season "over," only to get sucked back in by a good week, or even by one big win? Two weeks ago the Indians lost the series opener to Baltimore; dread set in, only to be fought off by four straight wins. Five days ago the Indians dropped the rubber match against the Royals; moods fell again, only to have the Indians sweep a long series in Chicago, bringing their playoff chances to the highest point they've been at all year. With that knowledge in hand, I'm going to try to keep myself from getting too bummed out by tonight's loss to the Royals.

It wasn't pretty though.

A Carlos Santana double put runners on second and third in the 1st inning, but Michael Brantley couldn't get them in, costing the Indians a chance to take control of the game right from the git-go. Instead, Kansas City took control in the bottom half of the inning, pushing a run across when Emilio Bonifacio reached on an infield hit, stole second, took third on a fly ball to center, and was knocked in by Billy Butler.

Scott Kazmir wasn't on his game, though it was still only a 2-1 deficit when he went back out to the mound for the bottom of the 6th. At that point though, he gave up back-to-back triples (with the help of some lackadaisical defense in the outfield) and then pulled. One more hit and errors by Asdrubal Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall (whose home run in the 5th inning had pulled the Tribe back within one) conspired to allow couple more runs to score, and at 5-1 and the bats apparently having been left in Chicago, the game was effectively over at that point.

For good measure, Kansas City scored a couple more anyway. In the 7th, Carlos Carrasco (who's been away attending to a family matter) made his first appearance in nine days. He allowed a pair of singles while retiring two hitters, then gave way to Rich Hill. Hill allowed two singles of his own, which let the two runners he inherited score. Vinnie Pestano pitched a scoreless 8th, but he allowed a walk and two hits, and (to my eyes) didn't look particularly sharp.

Kazmir continues to perform very inconsistently. In his last ten starts, he's retired more than 15 hitters just four times. He can't be written off though, because in those four good starts, hes been really good, allowing just one earned run in 26 innings, with fantastic a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 34:5, and only 14 hits allowed. If he's considered healthy, he'll get the ball two more times, and we'll all just have to hope his better self shows up for those games.

There's no shame in struggling against James Shields, but the Indians lineup was particularly weak tonight. Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana each struck out 3 times, and the team combined to whiff 17 times, which is the most by any American League team in a 9-inning game all season, and ties the franchise record for most strikeouts without the aid of extra frames (previously accomplish twice during the 2006 season).

If you're looking to tonight's game for good news... Keep looking.

The best I can say is that because the Rangers and Rays (the two teams currently holding the American League's Wild Card spots) are playing one another this week, the Indians remain only half a game out of a playoff spot (the Rangers lost the opener of their four-game set, so that's who the Tribe is just behind in the standings). If the Indians can take even one of their next two games, they'll still be in great shape heading into their final three series of the regular season.

AL Wild Card Standings:

W L PCT GB STRK
Tampa Bay 82 67 .550 0 Won 1
Texas 81 68 .543 1 Lost 7
Cleveland 81 69 .540 1.5 Lost 1
Baltimore 79 70 .530 3 Won 1
Kansas City 79 71 .526 3.5 Won 1
New York 79 71 .526 3.5 Lost 3






Game Graph:


Source: FanGraphs

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Let's hope for a better result Tuesday night.

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