Team President Mark Shapiro was a highly thought of and for the most part successful General Manager with the Indians before being bumped up stairs. He fleeced the Mariners in getting Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo in separate deals for the “Benuardo” first base platoon (Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez). He got Carlos Santana for Casey Blake and Travis Hafner for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese. But for all of the kudos he receives for the aforementioned deals, I will never and can never get over his biggest mistake as a member of the Indians front office.
That’s right, I am going to bring it up again.
Shapiro’s white whale beat him down once again and abused his team for a second straight game, leading the way in the 12-5 Cincinnati Reds win over the Tribe. I am of course talking about Brandon Phillips. How many more times can this guy come back to haunt us? Phillips has been gone since 2006 and he hasn’t stopped pounding his ex-team, reminding the Indians twice a year that they made a colossal mistake by sending him packing in favor of Ramon Vasquez.
People can blame Eric Wedge all they want, and there is no doubt his dislike of Phillips led to him being dealt for a bag of balls. But in the end, it was Shapiro’s job to pull rank on his manager and demand that talent win out. Instead, he let his manager make the call. The Indians have been paying the price ever since.
Yesterday, Phillips added three more hits, including another home run, and four more RBIs as his team swept the Tribe. Time and time again in this series, the Reds second baseman came up in big spots and delivered. A much more seasoned and mature Phillips talked about his feelings these days towards the question that always comes up when the two teams meet:
“Deep down, it feels good to beat up on the Tribe,” Phillips said. “But they’re moving in the right direction. Manny Acta’s a good coach — I mean manager — and the majority of the guys who are there are new. So, go Tribe.”
Meanwhile, the Indians aren’t going to beat anyone if their pitching continues to flounder. The Reds teed off for 12 runs on 17 hits. Starter Josh Tomlin lasted just four innings, giving up six of those runs on 10 hits.
“I felt like everything I was throwing up there, they were hitting,” said Tomlin. “The pitches out of the zone that I was trying to get bad contact with, they were just letting them go. Other than that, everything I threw over the plate, they hit.”
Rookie Reliever Scott Barnes took it on the chin as well, recording just one out in the fifth inning and getting lit up for five runs on five hits and two walks.
The Reds completely dominated this series, led by Phillips who went 8-13 with two homers and seven RBIs in three games.
“That’s not the way you wanted to finish a road trip,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “But, you’ve got to give them credit. They beat us on both sides of the ball. Their starters pretty much held our offense down and then they out-hit us, too.”
Really the Indians did nothing right in Cincinnati. They were outscored 24-9 and went just 2-20 with runners in scoring position. In the band box that is Great American Ballpark, Shin-Soo Choo’s two solo homers yesterday were the only jacks the Tribe hit in three games. When you go an entire series without seeing Vinnie Pestano or Chris Perez, it is not a good sign. Esmil Rogers and Jeremy Accardo both made two appearances. Also not a good sign.
The Indians nine-game trip that started with such promise at 4-2, finished with a flop at 4-5. Incredibly, with the White Sox losing two of three in St. Louis, the Indians are still just a game and a half out of first.
The Pittsburgh Pirates come to town this weekend with the same record as the Tribe, 32-30. Like the Indians, they are offensively challenged and are winning with good pitching. Their surprise ace this season, James McDonald (5-2, 2.39 ERA) goes in the opener tonight. He will be faced by the Tribe’s Justin Masterson (2-6, 4.76 ERA).
photo via The Cincinnati Enquirer/Cara Owsley