Indians 2, Rays 4: On Despair, Plastic Hips, and the Potential Wisdom of Rick Manning

7:06 PM – Three things that seem true:

“Matt Moore is Tampa Bay’s starter for this game.”

“Matt Moore pitches primarily with his left arm.”

“The Indians will lose this game.”

There’s a syllogism hiding in there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.

7:30 PM – After Moore sends the Indians down in order in the top of the first, Josh Tomlin gets to work. Let’s get ugly:

  • Lead-off single to BJ Upton (that looked more like a double).
  • Home run to right center by Carlos Pena. It’s worth noting that if Carlos Pena could draw up the sort of pitcher he’d like to face, it would look very much like Josh Tomlin: right handed, without swing and miss stuff, and generally around the strike zone. 2-0 Rays.
  • Speaking of around the strikezone, Tomlin follows up the HR by walking Ben Zobrist. Tomlin now has a 2.38 BB/9 compared to 1.14 last season. You cannot double your walk-rate—no matter how minuscule—and remain an effective pitcher unless you increase you strikeout rate comparably. We kinda knew that was unsustainable, I think, but here’s the evidence, smacking you right in the face.
  • After retiring Matt Joyce and Jeff Keppinger, Luke Scott “triples” to right on a pretty poor play by Choo. Zobrist scores. 3-0 Rays before we can blink.

7:35 PM – Five minutes since the Rays stopped scoring, and the Indians have already gone in order again. Baseball needs something comparable to a “time of possession” stat. I suppose the opposing pitcher’s pitch count might be the best approximation? Tonight, Matt Moore has thrown 19 pitches and recorded six outs (3.16 pitches per out). Josh Tomlin has thrown 26 pitches and recorded three outs (8.67 pitches per out). This has been brought to you by TD’s Mandatory Early Inning Pitch count Summary (MEIPS™).

8:00 PM – I’m interrupting my dinner to write this, as it’s important. In the top of the fourth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a hit (the Indians’ first of the evening). That is only his second hit in his last 29 plate appearances. Still 3-0. Back to dinner.

8:14 PM – Ugggh. After Cabrera’s lead-off single, Kipnis and Brantley walked to load the bases with nobody out. When we had one of these yesterday, and I mentioned the run expectancy charts. Evidently, those charts are liars. Lopez managed to hit a sac fly to right to score Asdrubal, but then Santana strikes out and Duncan flies out to center.

I can’t take another night of this, you guys. I really can’t. 3-1 Rays.

8:27 PM – Not much has happened here; it’s still 3-1. But Lou Marson just swung and missed at a pitch in a manner that can only be described as, “Oh…….ALRIGHT.” If I knew how to make GIFs, I would.

8:37 PM – As soon as I write “not much has happened”….stuff happens.

Marson ended up turning his Liotta-esque swing into a one-out walk. Choo follows with a single, and after an Asdrubal fly out, Jason Kipnis drives in Marson with a single up the middle. 3-2 Rays.

After a Brantley walk loads the bases, Lopez drives a ball to left field, but it lacks the distance, ending the threat.

Michael Brantley now has 15 walks in his last 17 games, which is a lot. But remember that we used to think he’d be an on base percentage guy—his minor league numbers sure looked promising. It was just that it never seemed to translate. Far be it from me to read too much into a 17 game sample, but what if he’s figured it out? He is the youngest position player on the team’s 25-man roster, and new tricks and young dogs and CLICHES!!

8:47 PM – I don’t think anyone, after watching the first inning, would’ve guessed that Josh Tomlin would outlast Matt Moore in this game. But it’s looking possible. After Santana leads off the top of the sixth with a walk, Joe Maddon yanks him for Wade Davis. Dunkers should probably be pinch hit for here for the platoon advantage, but it’s not looking like that going to happen.

8:52 PM – Nope. Acta leaves Duncan in. Ground ball double play wipes away the baserunner and Kotchman follows with a weak fly to left. WHEEEEEEE!!

9:09 PM – Tomlin outlasts Moore, but to no great effect. With one out and Keppinger on first base, Desmond Jennings grounds into a fielder’s choice to get aboard. After Jennings steals second on a somewhat questionable call, Jose Lobaton singles him in. Tomlin’s night is done.

Tony Sipp enters the game in to face Johnson, and promptly strikes him out. 4-2 Rays.

9:22 PM – Indians go down in order in the seventh. Nothing is happening, but it’s taking forever.

9:30 PM – Rick Manning is an interesting fella. For example, tonight, he’s decided that Carlos Pena, who steps out of the batter’s box between each pitch (like most batters, we should acknowledge), is delaying the game unnecessarily. In response to Pena stepping out, taking a deep breath and staring momentarily at his bat, Rick shouts, “WHATCHA LOOKING AT, PENA?? GET IN THERE!!”

We can only assume that Rick Manning has things to do in Tampa Bay this evening, and they don’t involve no stinking baseball game.

9:47 PM – This game has ground to a halt. But I guess I should point out that Jeremy Accardo has managed to get three batters out. IN A ROW.

4-2 Rays heading to the top of the ninth. Santana, Duncan and Kotchman due up against Fernando Rodney.

9:51 PM – The first pitch to Santana is called a strike—a call that Santana is visibly repulsed by. He turns around and speaks briefly to the home plate umpire. My question: how low must one’s batting average be before such a discussion is rendered laughable? Santana is batting .221. I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes with that.

9:53 PM – Santana gets hit by a pitch, but before I can even start to get excited Duncan lines back to Rodney who doubles Santana off first. All of a sudden a promising inning turns sour: two down, and Casey Kotchman is our only hope.

9:55 PM – Kotchman lines a single up the middle. Hafner pinch hitting for Laser Lou.

9:56 PM – Hafner puts a charge in to one, but it’s too high, and the Indians go down 4-2.

There are likely interesting things to say about this game, though I can’t think of any. The Indians had four hits, all singles. They made an error. Josh Tomlin looked terrible until he didn’t. The bad half of the bullpen didn’t implode, which is something, I guess.

But it’s not much.

Maybe Rick Manning’s right. Maybe we should stop spending so much time on this crummy team and get ourselves to a Greater Tampa area Sizzler so we can meet a nice lady with a plastic hip who’ll tell us stories about The War while we share a sirloin. Maybe this team is a lost cause. The Indians have now been outscored on the season by 34 runs—the fourth worst mark in the American League. It’s fairly accepted wisdom that they need both a bat AND a starting pitcher, which is just another way of saying that they’re not all that good to begin with.

Maybe I’m being too hard on them, but I don’t see a team that has any reason to be thinking postseason thoughts right now. This team doesn’t feel right to me, and it doesn’t feel particularly close to right either. Something’s amiss.

Or as Rick Manning would say: “WHAT’S AMATTER WITH YOU??”

Photo: Mike Carlson – Associated Press

  • Tracy: “Seriously, what’s wrong with you three?”
    Phil: “So much, Trace. I don’t even know where to begin.”

  • typo

    Carlos Santana. Ugh

  • AMC

    “Maybe I’m being too hard on them, but I don’t see a team that has any
    reason to be thinking postseason thoughts right now. This team doesn’t
    feel right to me, and it doesn’t feel particularly close to right
    either. Something’s amiss.”

    My thoughts exactly.

  • “Batting third for your Columbus Clippers, the catcher, No. 41, Carlos Santanaaaa!” – Huntington Park, May 2013

  • thepaledragon

    Pitches per out seems like a fun stat to explore.

  • JK

    Please send down Carlos

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The rose colored glasses and another solid start had people fooled this team was always mediocre and I contend that Acta and his staff have massaged a group of lesser talented players about as far as they can. If there was ever a time for the FO to inject a much needed pick me up in the form of a trade it’s now. Unfortunately even if they do I have serious doubts it’ll be the kind of trade needed. I can’t say the same for Detroit or probably even Chicago who has already benefited from one move.

  • nj0

    This team just has too many sub-par players. Simple as that.

  • Is it me, or does it seem like Kipnis is the only one capable of shortening his swing up and slapping singles up the middle with men on base?

  • nj0

    Even if the team could acquire a player, would it be worth it?

    Our record has exceeded performance. We don’t have a single average, consistent starting pitcher (minus McAllister, but I’m not ready to buy on him yet). Think on that, not one of five that has even been average. We have huge holes at left and 1B. We have no every day contributor at catcher and 3B. We have no fourth outfielder (or 3rd for that matter). We have no decent bench infielder. More than half our bullpen is shaky and/or bad. We are ineffective against most left handed pitchers.

    We’re not terrible, but we’re average. Which is where most people had us. We might win 83 games, but it looks like that unfortunately is not going to be enough. Even putting aside “could we”, I don’t think there’s a player out that there the FO could inject that would make a difference.

    Keep grinding in ’12 and start planning for ’13.

  • nj0

    re: Michael Brantley- I have never been that high on him and usually found a way to discount his contributions, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what he’s done at the plate thus far this year.

  • mgbode

    any real improvements to the team would be if Masterson, Ubaldo, Santana, and Asdrubal started playing to their best potential (and consistently), while Brantley, Choo and Kipnis continue to do what they do and the rest fill-in the gaps. Sadly, it doesn’t look like that will be in the cards for this year.

    if it wouldn’t go over so poorly with the fans (who they desperately need to keep on the good side as much as possible). a small sell or two to help 2013 would make the most sense right now (should be a sellers market with few teams doing it this year)

  • mgbode

    add in that if this is real and not just a hot streak, then it makes building the team easier for 2013 as his numbers play fine for a corner-OFer (find a speedy great fielding CFer and put Brantley in LF – easier to find the speed guys and they generally cost less)

  • nj0

    I was thinking the same thing about selling. I guess it’d depend on what we’re giving up. If some desperate team wanted to take a chance and overpay for a guy like Ubaldo, people might actually applaud.

  • mgbode

    hmmm, how would our team look if we added Allen Craig (getting limited ABs again with Berkman back in the lineup and the NL stupidly allowing pitchers to hit rather than hitters).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Same old same old so maybe unlike last year the next they’ll find a LF and 1B. By then they’ll probably need a 3B and soon a RF and perhaps a C. I don’t even know why I bother this s*$t is old.

  • nj0

    As much as people gripe about 1b/LF, the real hole on this team is starting pitching imo.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like your thinking first with Bruce and now Craig unfortunately your talking about the Indians and these other teams aren’t clueless. The Indians should have been all over Trumbo this offseason before he blew up into the player he has now you can watch him on highlights. All kind of should’ve could’ves with the Indians. Hey maybe that could be next years “What if” campaign….”Woulda, coulda, shoulda!”

  • Steve

    Who’s to say the Indians weren’t all over Trumbo? The Angels have found plenty of plate appearances for him, why did we think they were so willing to give him away?

  • nj0

    So first you say that other teams aren’t stupid and then you say that we should have just gotten Trumbo. He was never going anywhere.

  • nj0

    Nice thought but getting pre-arb players via trade is usually costly. Of course, with all the buyers and so few sellers, maybe teams will get desperate?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    At the beginning of the season the Angels had nowhere to play Trumbo with the signing of Pujols. They tried 3b for awhile it didn’t work out. They experimented with the OF but went back and forth between it and 3B. It wasn’t until I believe near the start of Interleague that he found a place in the OF. I seem to remember a couple times Pujols played 3b too probably against the Dodgers or Rockies.

    Anyways the point is he didn’t have a spot kinda like Abreu who the Angels did trade. He had obvious power and would have been the right handed power hitter so desperetly needed. Oh and the Angels didn’t have a closer either in fact the back end of their bullpen wasn’t all that great. Walden lost his job and they acquired Frieri from SD.

    And I never said they should have just gotten Trumbo matter of factly.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    see above comment to nj0

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I do believe in almost every trade mention I’ve included the need for a starter so I agree. LF more of a hole then 1B IMO.

  • nj0

    Bobby Abreau – 38 years old, $9M contract, FA in 2013
    Mark Trumbo- 26 years old, $500K contract, cost controlled until 2016

    Apples and oranges.
    Granted, there’s no way to know, but every report and rumor I heard was that he was never on the trading block. For all the talking head nonsense, I can’t find any legit report saying otherwise.

    Jayson Stark:
    “Other clubs don’t expect the Angels to trade Mark Trumbo, Stark notes.”

    “There’s no indication the Angels are looking to trade Trumbo, but they’re “trying feverishly” to move Bobby Abreau, Stark reports.”

  • Steve

    You said they should have been all over Trumbo. I’m not sure how else to interpret it. And yes, they bounced Trumbo around, because they knew they wanted to get his bat in the lineup. He wasn’t anywhere near as available as you are suggesting.

  • nj0

    Yeah, at least Kotchman can play defense.

  • I love reading these recaps of games!
    The begining of this year was much the last few. It was the front office saying the the word “IF”. It is ok to say that if the team were taking a couple of risks, but in the Indians case they are saying that about half the major league roster. More often than not it is with their starting lineup. Which means there is absolutly no depth.
    I don’t believe that throwing money at the problem and bring in a bunch of free agents, but there is something businesses call the invisible cost of turnover. If you are bringing in the cheapest option every year and having to find the new bargin the next year it will catch up with a team. If you would go out and get the guy you really feel would solve the problem or keep the player that is already performing that is one less “IF” on the roster.

  • playing left out

    everytime i see a game like this i keep thinking about willingham. 22 HRs 65 RBI and a guy who wanted to be here (unlike upton, beltran, most other FA out there) but the tribe refusing to give him a third year on a contract and instead giving 5 large to Our Lady of Grady Sizemore charity. AWFUL MANAGEMENT

  • cmm13

    ugh…we are talking about building 2013 already?

  • cmm13

    “Matt Moore is Tampa Bay’s starter for this game.”
    “Matt Moore pitches primarily with his left arm.”
    “The Indians will lose this game.”
    Normally i would agree with this; but they did knock him around just two weeks ago in Cleveland. They can do it sometimes, just not as often as we’d like.