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Another rough outing for Salazar; Royals tack on eight runs

Apr 23, 2014 -- 12:43am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Royals’ Mike Moustakas delivered a big home run in the top of the fourth inning, as they beat the Indians Tuesday night at Progressive Field, 8-2.
 
Quick Hits
  •  Indians’ starter Danny Salazar lost his third game of the season. 
  • Four Tribe hitters had two hits our more in Tuesday night’s game.
  • Royals’ Mike Moustakas had a three-run home run.
  • With Tuesday’s loss the Indians are now 9-10 on the season and 5-6 at Progressive Field.
Twitter Question of the Night #KNRTribe
LVP of the Game – Indians’ starter Danny Salazar pitched three scoreless innings, but allowed four runs in the fourth inning. He exited the game after allowing back-to-back, one-out doubles in the fifth inning. He finished the game going 4 1/3 inning, allowing seven hits, five runs (four earned), while walking two and striking out six. 
 
Once again Salazar fell apart the second time through the oppositions line up. The home run that Salazar allowed in the fourth inning off of Moustakas was the result of giving him back-to-back changeups. He also left too many pitches in the zone and got pounded by Royals' hitters. The thing with Salazar is teams are adjusting to him the second time through, but he's not be doing the same. 
 
“Maybe I’m doing something where they know what pitch I’m going to throw,” Salazar said. “I’ve been feeling great and strong. I felt aggressive out there compared to last time I pitched.”
 
What Salazar alluded to is the possibility that he’s tipping his pitches, and might be opening his glove differently when throwing different ones. The other thing with Salazar has been the velocity on his fastball. Tuesday night he topped out at 96 mph and threw between, 93 to 95 mph, which is not bad at all. Last season there were times Salazar would light the radar gun up at 98 or 99 mph. Hitters are also having a lot more success against Salazar's fastball this season then they were last. The book on Salazar is a lot thicker now then what it was when he first reached the big leagues, however he's got to figure out ways to make adjustment in ordr to be succesful.
 
Danny Salazar's Fastball Effectiveness Entering Tues. - Career  (via ESPN)
 20132014
Velocity96.193.4
Opp BA.217.333
Miss pct28.519.7
 
Mister Consistent – The only consistent hitter right now in this Indians' lineup remains to be Michael Brantley. In Brantley’s first 20 games he’s reached base in 18 of them, while hitting safely in 16 out 20. Arguably one of the toughest outs in the American League if not baseball, Brantley leads the team in pretty much every offensive category. 
 
Where’s the Defense? – It seems like a common theme for the Indians every night, but this defense is atrocious. Tribe catcher Yan Gomes was the culprit behind Tuesday night’s latest defensive blunder. Gomes already has double the errors this season, six, than he had all of last season in 85 games behind the plate.
 
As for Francona, he believes the team’s in a slump and feels like they’re better than what they are right now, however the proofs in the pudding. In their first 20 games this season, the Indians have as many errors as games played. They lead the American League in errors while ranking in the bottom five overall defensively in the Major Leagues.
 
Attendance – Tuesday night’s attendance at Progressive Field was 8,848, which was the second lowest in stadium history. The lowest ever was on April 3, 2011 when 8,726 showed up.
 
Birthday Boy – Tuesday was Indians’ manager Terry Francona’s 55th birthday. As a manager, Francona’s teams are now 6-6 all-time in games played on his birthday. His teams have won five of their last seven, including last season when the Tribe beat the White Sox 3-2. Francona had a little fun with reporters on how he felt on his birthday. 
 
“I don’t think I feel a day over 75,” Francona said.
 
A Stat from Left Field – The Indians have played in 20 games and have yet to play in extra innings this season. They are just one of four teams yet to participate in bonus baseball. The Reds, Rockies and Padres being the other three teams.
 
Rounding Third – Tuesday night was one of those games where one swing of the bat changed the momentum. That shift in the game happened when Moustakas hit a three-run home run to right field in the top of the fourth inning, after that it was pretty much over. 
 
The Indians bats produced nine hits but also struck out 11 times Tuesday night. The thing the Tribe has to start doing is stringing at-bats together in bunches. Obviously that’s stating the obvious, but batters have to follow up with hits after a guy reaches base. It’s that simple.
 
Worth Quoting – “If you look at the moves that were made in the offseason, the central has really bulked its self up. There’s a lot of good pitchers in this division and there’s always going to be a challenge. No one’s going to feel sorry for us, so we have to come out here, find our game and bring it everyday.” – Indians’ Nick Swisher on the A.L. Central Division 
 
Up Next – The Indians continue their four game home series against Kansas City on Wednesday. On the mound for the Tribe, RHP Justin Masterson (0-0, 4.98) he’ll go against Royals’ LHP Jason Vargas (2-0, 1.24). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.  
 
 

 

McAllister goes six innings, Indians win second straight

Apr 21, 2014 -- 12:14am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

Jason Kipnis’ home run in the sixth inning powered the Indians past the Royals, as the Tribe won Monday night at Progressive Field, 4-3.
 
Quick Hits
  • Indians Zach McAllister won his third game of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing six hits on three runs (two earned), while walking one and striking out two.
  • Tribe closer John Axford recorded his seventh save of the season and is now tied for the second most in the Majors, while ranking first in the American League.
  • Royals’ Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with a double.
  • The Tribe’s two, three and four hitters each had two hits, and had four extra base hits.
  • Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall hit cleanup Monday, marking it the third time he has done so in his career. He went 2-for-4 with a double Monday night. The Tribe’s normal four hitter, Carlos Santana, had the night off. 
  • Monday’s win was the Indians second straight. They are now 9-10 on the season and 5-5 at Progressive Field.
Twitter Question of the Night #KNRTribe
MVP of the Game – The Indians’ Jason Kipnis came up big when it mattered, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, putting the Tribe up 4-3. On top of Kipnis’ third home run of the season, he also had a double in the fourth. Kipnis entering Monday was 3-for-14 (.214) with no extra base hits or RBI’s.
 
McAllister Outing – For the most part Zach McAllister was pretty solid through his six innings pitched. However the one inning where he wasn’t so great, was in the fifth inning when he allowed three runs (two earned) and had a throwing error. The issue with this Indians' staff has been their inability to have shut down innings once they put runs on the board. Of the 42 innings that the Tribe have scored in, the opposition has scored in their next at-bat, 20 times. 
 
McAllister didn't walk many and he didn’t strike out many, but did a good job of working himself out of jams. He started the first inning off, surrendering a triple to Omar Infante, but worked his way through the jam. He once again got in to some trouble when he gave up a double to Alex Gordon but was able to get the next batter to ground out. McAllister has won three games in his four starts this season.
 
“I think I’ve been able to get the ball down pretty well,” McAllister said. “They were aggressive team, and anytime you threw a strike they were trying to put the ball in play. For me I was trying to execute good pitches and mix a little bit.”
 
Defense, Defense, Defense – One of the more consistent problems so far this season with the Indians has been their defense. On Monday night the Tribe had three errors, one coming from McAllister and the other two coming from third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Errors are huge when any they're committed, but when a team regularly hands them out like hot cakes it hurts even more. 
 
Extra outs can kill a team, and Monday was a prime example of that. Of the three errors in Monday’s game, the Royals cashed in on two runs. The Indians through 19 games this season are second in the league with 19 errors, and rank 27th in total team defense.
 
Day Off – Tribe manager Terry Francona provided Carlos Santana with a much-needed day off on Monday.
 
“There’s just a few reason where I thought it’s be good for him,” Francona said. “(It’s) just because he’s starting to chase some balls out of the zone. You can tell he’s getting a little anxious. He’s always had that volatile swing, but he stays in the zone so well. And (Sunday), he really started chasing.
 
“So, I thought maybe I’d give him a night to kind of take it easy and, again, get some stuff done on the field without the game hanging over your head. I think that’d be good for him.”
 
Santana in 18 games has hit .145 with one home run, two doubles three RBI and 17 walks. He went 0-for-3 Sunday with three strikeouts and is two for his last 39 at the plate.
 
A Stat from Left Field – Kansas City is 9-0 when scoring at leas four runs in a game. They are now 0-9 after Monday’s game when held to three runs or less.
 
Making Moves – Indians’ designated hitter Jason Giambi was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. To make room, the Indians optioned RHP Blake Wood to Triple-A Columbus. Wood was 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 innings, where he walked and struck out seven batters. Giambi was out since March 7. with a fractured rib that he suffered in spring training. He appeared in three games with Double-A Akron in a rehab assignment where he went 0-for-8 with two walks and four strikeouts. 
 
Getting Squirrely – The Indians had a visitor in the second inning, when a squirrel was running lose on the field. He stopped play for a few minutes but mostly reeked havoc with the Indians’ grounds crew. It took two tries to finally get the squirrel to leave the ballpark, but not before he had an encounter with Nick Swisher at first base.
 
“I just kind of thought I’d put my glove down and give him a nice little home to come into,” Swisher said.
 
Last year was the Rally Chicken, which coincidently occurred during the Indians hot streak into the postseason. Could this year be the Rally Squirrel that sparks a run? Whatever it is, the Indians certainly won’t ignore it.
 
Rounding Third – It was promising to see the top of the order finally produce, considering they’ve been in sub zero temperatures for quite sometime. Big hits by Kipnis and once again Michael Brantley are all the Indians needed offensively, however it was the bullpen that shut it down. 
 
The Indians’ bullpen turned in three scoreless innings allowing no hits and walking no one while, Axford notched his seventh save of the season. The best part about Axford’s appearance was that it was a 1-2-3 inning, compared to Sunday’s when he loaded the bases, but finished the game with a ground out. Last but not least the starting pitching was there and turned in a quality start. The Indians have won two straight and maybe Monday was an indicator that the top of the lineup is going to finally waking up from its deep sleep.
 
Worth Quoting – “I missed him. I hope he comes back tomorrow so I can say hi.” – Indians John Axford on the squirrel 
 
Up Next – The Indians continue their four game home series with the Kansas City on Tuesday. On the mound for the Tribe, RHP Danny Salazar (0-2, 7.71) he’ll go against Royals’ RHP James Shields (1-2, 2.00). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
 
 

 

Murphy comes up big; Tribe Snaps three game losing streak

Apr 20, 2014 -- 6:25pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Indians snap a three-game losing streak while avoiding the sweep, as they beat the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon, 6-4 at Progressive Field.
 
Quick Hits
  • Indians are now 8-10 on the season and 4-5 at Progressive Field.
  • The Blue Jays win the series against the Indians at home 2-1.
  • Indians' Michael Brantley was 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a double. He had 2 RBI.
  • Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco pitched 5 2/3 innings, surrendering six hits four runs (all earned), while walking three and striking out five.
  • Indians’ closer John Axford got his sixth save of the season; while reliever Josh Outman picked up his third win.
  • Toronto’s Melky Cabrera was 2-for-4 Sunday, finishing the series with eight hits, going 8-for-14 (.571).
Twitter Question of the Afternoon #KNRTribe
MVP of the Game – The Indians entered Sunday’s game, 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position through two games against the Blue Jays. David Murphy ended that drought when he cleared the bases loaded with a two out double to left in the sixth inning. 
 
This may be a bit over dramatic but that was a huge hit in a number of ways. For one it gave the Indians the lead, but two this changed to tide of things. Meaning the Indians could have lost Sunday’s game, which could’ve led to a four-game losing streak, and more frustration. Murphy’s double also took the focus away from Carlos Carrasco’s start, which started out well but got very mediocre as time went on.
 
Carlos Carrasco Outing – Speaking of Carrasco, he looked great from the beginning, retiring his first nine batters in the order. However, the second time through the lineup, he allowed three straight hits to start the fourth inning. This has been an issue with Carrasco where he starts off strong the first time through the lineup but the second and third time through, he struggles. This may be reading between the lines, but that sounds like reliever stuff more than starter stuff. 
 
“Early on he was pretty good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “As he started to get into the game, I think he was fighting his mechanics again a little bit. That lead arm was coming down lower and lower. It kind of coincides when he starts giving up hits.” 
 
For Carrasco, this was a game where he needed to pitch well for his sake. He did just enough Sunday to buy him some more time in the Indians starting rotation, but Trevor Bauer is in Columbus waiting. 
 
Dr. Smooth – If you were to look up the word consistency in the dictionary, Michael Brantley’s name would be right next to it. Brantley went 2-for-3 Sunday with a solo home run and a double, along with two RBI and a walk. He now leads the Indians with 16 RBI and is batting .394 (13-for-33) with runners on base. 
 
“He’s so fun to watch on a daily basis,” Murphy said on Brantley. “He’s mister consistent, and a guy who’s undervalued in the game of baseball. I just love the way he takes such a consistent approach. He takes the same approach up their every single at-bat, he never gets away from himself.” 
 
Brantley’s arguably the hardest out on this team. He works the count and fouls pitches off until he see’s a pitch that he likes. A prime example of that was on Sunday when he was facing Toronto starter Brandon Morrow. Brantley was in a 3-2 count when he hit his solo home run in the second, taking nine pitches to do so.
 
Team Meeting – Franona’s not huge on team meetings, but following Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Toronto and the team losing their seventh in nine games, he felt it was fitting to do so.
 
“I know our guys well enough where you don’t have to talk to them every day,” Francona said before Sunday’s game. “I just felt like I want to help. I care about them a lot, and I really like this team a lot, and I just felt like maybe half reassuring and kind of explaining. (It was about), Remember who we are and how we go about things. 
 
Injury Update – Before Sunday’s game, Francona said that the plan for Jason Giambi is to still activate him from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. Giabmi suffered a fractured rib in spring training, but has appeared in three games in Double-A Akron for a rehab assignment. He’s gone 0-for-8 with two walks and four strikeouts. 
 
A Stat from Left Field – The Indians pitching staff has worked 30.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a home run. Ian Kinsler’s three-run home run on Thursday for Detroit was the last pitch to leave the ballpark.
 
Rounding Third – Today’s game was a prime example of solid bullpen work and timely hitting. Murphy’s two-out three run double was eye popping considering the Indians couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position this series against the Blue Jays. 
 
However it was the bullpen that let Toronto down, despite Morrow having an okay day on the mound. The Blue Jay’s pen allowed four earned runs while walking four batters. Aaron Loup in the sixth had two outs, until he walked three consecutive batters, leading to Murphy’s base clearing double. Toronto’s bullpen is 2-3 and ranks 18th in Major League Baseball with a 3.90 ERA in 64.2 innings of work.
 
Though John Axford got the bases loaded and put Tribe fans in borderline cardiac arrest, it was the exact opposite for the pen. In 3 1/3 innings of work, the Tribe bullpen allowed two hits, which were all Axford’s, while allowing no runs and walking two and striking out three. It hasn’t been talked about, but this Indians bullpen has been solid. Through 18 games they are 5-3 with one blown save and are ranked fifth in the MLB with a 2.76 ERA in 58.2 innings of work. The Indians just need to put together some solid pitching together before this bullpen is gassed by mid June.
 
Worth Quoting – “Hopefully this is exactly what we need to get on a roll.” – Indians David Murphy on Sunday’s win
 
Up Next –The Indians open up a four game home series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday. Tribe RHP Zach McAllister (2-0, 2.04) will go against Royals’ RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 4.34). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
 
 

 

Buehrle tames Indians bats; Tribe lose third straight

Apr 19, 2014 -- 6:05pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty 

Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle remains unbeaten, as the Indians fell at Progressive Field Saturday afternoon, 5-0.
 
Quick Hits
  • Blue Jays’ pitcher Mark Buehrle won his fourth game in as many starts, while lowering his ERA to 0.66.
  • The Tribe had four hits in the ball game, but no player in the line up had multiple hits.
  • Toronto’s Dioner Navarro went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, while Mekly Cabrera remained scorching hot, going 2-for-5. Cabrera in two games this series against Cleveland, is 6-for-10.
  • Saturday’s loss was the first time this season that the Indians have been shut out.
  • The Indians lost their third straight game and are now 7-10 on the season and 3-5 at Progressive Field.
Twitter question of the afternoon #KNRTribe
LVP of the Afternoon – Something has to get going with the Indians one, two, three and four hitters. Those four hitters in their last five games have hit a combined .135 (10-for-74) with two RBI, 13 walks and 22 strikeouts. A team isn’t going to win many ball games if the first four hitters aren’t setting the table for the rest of the lineup, and that’s exactly what’s going on right now with the Indians.
 
Out of those four hitters, Jason Kipnis on the season leads the pack with a .241 batting average, while tied with Nick Swisher with two home runs and seven RBI. Swisher is hitting .174 in the number two hole, right in front of Kipnis at three. Michael Bourn, who’s played the least amount of games, is batting .077 with no home runs or RBI. 
 
Asdrubal Cabrera who’s split lead off duties with Bourn, is hitting .222 with one home run and five RBI. Carlos Santana the cleanup hitter is batting .153 with one home run and three RBI. Santana didn’t get his first home run until Friday night against the Blue Jays.
 
Mark Buehrle – Saturday marked just the second time in Buehrle’s career that he’s begun the season with wins in his first four starts. He pitched seven innings, surrendering four hits, while walking and striking out three. Buehrle was effective against Indians hitters, inducing them to hit into 11 ground ball outs. A contact pitcher, Buehrle also works very quickly and he did so Saturday, controlling the game from the start. 
 
Kluber Outing – Despite a rough outing by the Indians’ defense in the first two innings, and allowing three runs, Kluber was able to settle in and pitch pretty effectively. However in the seventh inning he tired out walking Jose Bautista and then surrendering a double to left off of Edwin Encarnacion. Dioner Navarro then hit a base clearing single and that was it for Kluber.
 
“I thought Klubes (Kluber) was pretty good,” said Indians’ manager Terry Francona. “After he gave up the run in the second inning, he was pretty good. And then he didn’t get a ball in enough on Navarro and it cost him the last two runs.”
 
Kluber pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, five runs (four earned), while walking and striking out three. Kluber’s outing was a bit uncharacteristic, as he suffered his first loss in Cleveland, marking it the first time since May 21, 2013. Kluber had also won six consecutive home decisions over his last 10 starts in Cleveland dating back to June 16. of last year.
 
A Stat from Left Field – According to ESPN Stats and Information, Carlos Santana this season has hit .278 in at-bats to end in a fastball from a right handed pitcher. However he has yet to record a hit against a left-hander in 12 at-bats to end with a fastball. Santana on Saturday was 0-for-3 against the left-handed Buehrle, with all three last pitches being off speed.
 
Marcum Update – Indians' right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum, who signed a minor league contract on Dec 16. continues to rehab at the Tribe’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Marcum is coming off of surgery on his pitching shoulder that ended most of his season last year. He threw three innings a few days ago and pitched a side day Saturday. 
 
Rounding Third – One thing that has to happen is that the Indians have to start putting together complete games. That being the team plays solid defense, the offense is somewhat awake and the pitching remains consistent through out a game. The Indians have done that here and there this season but haven’t been able to put a stretch of games together. 
 
It’s only April and the season is very young still, but Saturday’s game was a prime example of not putting together a complete game. The pitching was there for the Indians, but the defense left a lot to be desired and the offense never showed up. Once again, if the Indians can put complete games on the field more times than none, they’ll be fine, it’s just a matter of when? 
 
Worth Quoting – “Last year we started off the season 5-10. It’s not time to jump off the bridge just yet.” – Indians’ Nick Swisher
 
Up Next – The Indians will try to avoid the sweep as they wrap up their three game home series against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Tribe RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 7.84) will face off with Toronto’s RHP Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.52). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.
 
 

 

Solid outing for Masterson; bullpen can’t hold it down

Apr 19, 2014 -- 12:34am

By Chris Coon |  ESPNCleveland.com

Photo/Getty
 
Justin Masterson had a solid pitching performance on Friday night but was unable to pick up the win, as the Indians fell to the Blue Jays at Progressive Field, 3-2.
 
Quick Hits 
  • Indian’s Jason Giambi will be activated on Monday from the 15 day disabled list (fractured rib). No roster moves were made Friday. 
  • Toronto’s Melky Cabrera was 4-for-5, getting three of his hits of Indians’ starter Justin Masterson.
  • The Indian’s Carlos Santana hit his first home run of the season, when he blasted two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth.
  • Tribe reliever Mark Rzepczynski received the loss, marking his first of the season.
  • Indians lose their second straight game. They’re now 7-9 on the season.
Twitter Question of the Night #KNRTribe
 
LVP of the Game – Mark Rzepczynski and Cody Allen pitched 2/3 of an inning and were unable to hold the lead down for the Indians, surrendering two runs in the seventh (one officially scored to Rzepczynski and the other being credited to Masterson). 
 
Santana and Cabrera – Entering Friday nights game, Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera were hitting a combined 20-for-110 (.181) with 1 home run and six RBI, through the first three weeks of the season. The two snapped out of things, going a combined 2-for-8 with a triple and a home run with two RBI and a walk. 
 
Santana in the bottom of the sixth inning put the Indians on the board with a two-run home run to right field. A few at-bats later Cabrera followed up with a triple off of the center field wall. Though it’s encouraging to see these two guys hit the ball, they also had three strikeouts and at times looked lost at the plate. They say patience is a virtue, and maybe that’s the case with these two guys. 
 
Nice Rebound – Indians starter Justin Masterson Friday night looked like the Masterson of 2013 when he led the club with 14 wins and a 3.45 ERA. However he wasn’t able to pick up his first win of the season, marking it his four decision of the season. Masterson pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, two runs (all earned), while walking two and striking out nine.
 
“We worked on some things between start that I’m excited about,” Masterson said. “The bullpen felt good too. We put the sinker where wee needed for the most part. The four-seamer had something behind it, and the slider was there, too. I felt comfortable.” 
 
Entering Friday night’s game, Masterson in his last two starts had surrendered 12 runs, 10 of them being earned, while allowing 14 hits and walking 8 in 15 1/3 innings. Masterson seemed to have very good control and had his slider and sinker really grooving through out the game. He worked himself out of a jam in the third inning with the bases loaded and the heart of the lineup up to bat, to strike out the side. Overall he was confident in his pitches and was very effective having a few single digit pitch count innings, instead of innings of 20 pitches or more.
 
Where’s the defense? – Indians catcher Yan Gomes in his last two games has had two throwing errors. He recorded his fifth error of the season Friday night on a throw to first base, which ended up skipping out to right field. This was costly as it advanced Melky Cabrera to third and Munenori Kawasaki to second. Cabrera would score two batters later off of an Edwin Encarnacion single. 
 
“It’s natural, but it’s the game, “ said Gomes on his five errors this season. “I guess it’s now becoming a learning experience. I just got to keep that aggressiveness and never let it get away from me. I’m still going to be hopefully throwing the balls to guys and not throwing them away. It’s a tough one to swallow, especially today.”
 
Gomes said he had actually called for the pick off play in the top of the seventh. If Gomes doesn’t skip that ball into right field, Kawasaki is out. Just to put things into perspective, in 85 games last season behind the plate Gomes had three errors all together. 
 
The Melk Man – Toronto’s Cabrera was 4-for-5 Friday night, marking it the 11th time in his career that he has had a four hit game. Before entering Friday night’s game, Cabrera was 12-of-24 (.500) lifetime against Masterson.
 
A Stat Out of Left Field – According to ESPN Stats and Information, Toronto’s Bautista tied for second in the MLB with seven home runs against sliders from right-handed pitchers last season. Masterson threw his slider 26.7 percent of the time in 2013. The league average was 15 percent. Bautista Friday night went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk. 
 
Rounding Third – Overall Masterson pitched a great game and looked to be his old self. He had nine strikeouts and only walked two batters. His command was there and he worked himself out of jams when he had to. The only down fall was that the Indians bullpen couldn’t hold it together to get Masterson his first win of the season. 
 
On top of the bullpen not being able hold it down for Masterson, it was the situational hitting in the bottom of the ninth inning. Lonnie Chisenhall led the inning off with a double. 
 
Michael Bourn was unable to lay a bunt down to move Chisenhall over to third and ended up striking out. It was hands down the worst at-bat of the season but not being able to lay the bunt down hurt. As a leadoff hitter like Bourn, he should be able to lay a bunt down when needed to. He looked as if it was his first time doing so Friday night. 
 
“We didn’t get the bunt down, we struck out, but we kept playing,” Indians Manager Terry Francona said. “We ended up with the bases loaded, and (Michael) Brantley hit a rocket to first. A couple of feet over, we win.”
 
Nicks Swisher was the next batter up and ended up striking out looking, Kipnis and Santana were able to put back-to-back walks together, but Brantley ended up grounding out to end the game.
 
Worth Quoting – “We’re still a little rusty. We’re just working out the kinks.” – Indians’ Justin Masterson on the clubs slow start
 
Up Next – The Indians continue their three game series with the Toronto on Saturday. RHP Corey Kluber (1-1, 5.40) will go against LHP Mark Buehrle (3-0, 0.86). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.
 

Masterson has rough outing despite Indians bats coming alive

Apr 06, 2014 -- 8:08pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Picture/Getty

The early inning pitching woes continued for the Indians, as Justin Masterson allowed six runs in a 10-7 loss to the Twins on Sunday.
 
Quick Hits
  • Indians’ CF Michael Bourn was out (hamstring) along with DH Jason Giambi (rib fracture).
  • Twins’ LF Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch in the top of the first by Justin Masterson. He left the game with a sore left wrist and was taken to the hospital for X-Rays. They were negative.
  • Indian’s starter Justin Masterson pitched 3.2 innings, allowing seven hits, six runs and five earned runs. He walked three, struck out four and hit two batters. 
  • The Tribe’s RF David Murphy went 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.
  • Minnesota’s DH Chris Colabello drove in four runs on two hits.
  • It was the Twins first series win in Cleveland since 2012. Both teams are now 3-3 on the season.
Twitter Question of the Afternoon #KNRTribe
 
LVP of the Game – Sunday’s start by Justin Masterson was his shortest since April 17, 2012 in Seattle, where pitched 3.2 innings. Masterson didn’t have his best stuff, and his control was non-existent. In three out of the four innings that Masterson appeared in, he either hit or walked the leadoff batter. 
 
“It seemed like it was one of those days in general,” Masterson said. “You want to make some adjustments, but it just didn’t happen.”
 
Masterson left his pitches up, while sweeping his breaking ball out of the zone. This resulted in the Twins getting seven hits, while escalating the pitch count to 97 pitches in less than four innings. Though the Indians’ defense wasn’t there for Masterson on Sunday, he did allow 12 men to reach base on seven hits, three walks and two hit by pitches.
 
Starting Pitching – Since Masterson’s first start on March 31. against the Oakland Athletics, the Indians starting pitching has failed to produce a quality start. The Tribe’s starting pitchers have yet to even make it passed or through the fifth inning. However Francona still believes it’s too soon to start worrying about his starting rotation.
 
“I don’t think we get discouraged that easily,” he said. “I don’t think that you start to give up on your guys on April 6. I’m not saying that we don’t want to do better regardless of when it is in the year, but I think you can rush to judgment and miss out on some really good players.”
 
It's too soon to start judging the Indians’ rotation but the numbers don’t line. Before Sunday’s game, the Tribe in their last five starts posted a 10.20 ERA in innings one through three. Overall, the Indians have given up 19 runs (17 earned) on 27 hits in 15 innings. It's too early to panic about the starting pitching right now, but it’s something to put in your back pocket and not forget about.
 
Hit Parade – Unlike the pitching, the hitting was on display Sunday for the Indians. The Tribe had a total of 15 hits in the game, marking it their first loss with 15 or more hits since 2012. The most promising thing out of the Indians’ offensive surge was RF David Murphy going 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Murphy in his last four games had two hits in 14 at-bats. 
 
Michael Brantley went 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Yan Gomes ignited the offense in the second with a two-run home run to left field. Despite scoring seven runs, it was the timely hitting that hurt the Indians. The Tribe went 3-16 w/RISP while stranding 12 base runners. Jason Kipnis was one of the few exceptions, hitting a base clearing three-run double in the bottom of the fourth. Kipnis snapped a 0-for-10 skid Sunday, going 2-for-5 with 3 RBI.
 
What Gives? – Once again the defense wasn’t there from Gomes behind the plate. The catcher had a throwing error in the top of the third, which resulted in a run. One could probably argue that if Mike Aviles and Kipnis are there to cover second base just a tick quicker, the runner at second is out. 
 
Typically a very solid defensive catcher, Gomes has struggled that past few games. Saturday he allowed two pass balls in the top of the third inning, which resulted in Minnesota advancing to third and then later scoring. It’s unclear what’s going on with Gomes behind the plate. He’s either in a defensive slump or he’s pressing right now after signing a six-year, $23 million dollar deal. Gomes could possibly be trying to do too much, and is feeling that he has to prove he’s worth the contract the Indians signed him to. The best thing for Gomes if he’s pressing, is to go back to how he was playing last season, which was carefree.
 
The Injury Front – Center fielder Michael Bourn, who’s rehabbing a hamstring, played seven innings at Columbus on Saturday. Bourn was 1-for-3 in that game. The Indians plan for Bourn is to play a couple more rehab games before activation. Bourn was in the Indians’ clubhouse on Sunday and reported to have no issues.
 
Making Moves – The Indians made a minor move on Sunday, acquiring RHP Duke von Schamann from the Dodgers for LHP Colt Hynes. The Indians designated Hynes for assignment on March 30. Schamann will report to the Indians Double-A affiliate in Akron. He has a career mark of 3.93 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 43 games/ 37 starts.
 
Rounding Third – It was good to see the Indians’ bats come alive, but the timely hitting wasn’t completely there. The Tribe drove in seven runs, and typically when a baseball team scores five or more runs, their chances of winning are very high. However if that team’s pitching doesn’t turn in a solid performance, than you’re going to lose. Though it’s very early in the season, the inability of the Indians starting pitching to make it through the early inning has hurt them. 
 
Worth Quoting – “I thought we clawed back really well. That’s not easy to do. I thought we swung the bats pretty well.” – Manager Terry Francona on the Indians responding to the Twins six run surge early in the game
 
Up Next – The Indians will continue their six-game home stand, when they open up a three-game series against San Diego Monday. On the mound for the Tribe RHP Corey Kluber (0-1, 13.50 ERA) he’ll pitch against LHP Robbie Erlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. 
 
 

 

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