Indians

Tigers 5 Indians 3: Offense Doesn’t Show, Neither Does Lowe

With the looming return of Roberto Hernandez, it would behoove the Indians two back end starters – Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe – to start pitching better. One of them is going to lose their job, if not both of them. When asked after the game about his starting pitching issues, Manager Manny Acta told the media “Of course we need pitching help. Everyone knows that. It’s a priority.” Then asked if more help would be on the way, he responded by saying “We’re working on it.”

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Lowe or Tomlin. Then again, neither was Lowe’s start last night, another in a long line of poor outings which could lead to his undoing. At least Tomlin has shown some sort of life of late. The 39-year old veteran looks like he is on his last legs after taking another loss last night.

Right off the bat, the Tigers were all over him. Austin Jackson, Quentin Berry, and Miguel Cabrera all singled to start the game and in the blink of an eye the Indians were down 1-0. In the second inning, Alex Avila laced a one out double. Omar Infante then hit a groundball to short in which Asdrubal Cabrera’s throw pulled Casey Kotchman off the bag for an error. Replays showed that Kotchman actually got his foot back on the bag in time. But the Tigers were back in business.

Jackson’s grounder into the hole between short and third was snagged by Cabrera, but his only play was to second. His throw was wide of Jason Kipnis and ended up in shallow right field. It was his second error of the inning and allowed Avila to score. Berry followed with a single scoring Infante and the Tigers led 3-0.

It looked as though the Indians were going to make it a game in the third against hard-throwing righty Max Scherzer. Johnny Damon worked a leadoff walk, bringing Casey Kotchman to the plate. The Tribe’s first baseman jacked a two-run shot to right-center and just like that, it was a one run game. After Jack Hannahan K’d (the Indians could really use the bat of Lonnie Chisenhall right about now – Hannahan has sunk to .235/.302/.652), Shin-Soo Choo narrowly missed a home by a couple of feet, instead settling for a double. Scherzer came back to strike out Cabrera for the second out and got Brantley on a deep fly ball to the warning track in right to end the threat.

Lowe seemed to be settling back in, but in the fifth, his wildness reappeared. Like they did in the first, Jackson, Berry, and Cabrera all reached base except this time, Lowe walked all three to load the bases with nobody out. Prince Fielder drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to extend the Detroit lead to 4-2, but that is all they would get. Lowe managed to wiggle his way out of another jam and came back out for the sixth inning.

Avila singled and moved to third on two straight groundballs. With two outs, Berry got him for his third hit of the game, an RBI single past a diving Hannahan at third. Lowe was lifted after six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits, he walked three and struck out just one.

Lowe’s struggles aren’t going away. He is a shell of the pitcher who was so good in April and parts of May. Over his past 11 starts, Derek has allowed 52 earned runs in 58 innings (8.07 ERA) and given up 83 hits. Those are brutal numbers.

“I’ve played this game too long to be searching,” Lowe said. “I’ve struggled numerous times in my career. I guess it affects you because you’re not pitching the way you’d like, but by no means do you go out there and think you’re not going to get the job done.”

Even as average as Lowe was, the offense didn’tΒ exactlyΒ do their part to help out. Against Scherzer the Indians managed just three hits, one of which was a Brantley fly ball that Jackson lost in the sky and bounced off the warning track for a ground rule double in the sixth. He stole third with one out, but was stranded there by Carlos Santana (popout) and Travis Hafner (strikeout).

They added a run in the ninth off of Tigers closer Jose Valverde on a Hafner solo homer, but it was too little too late. It was also typical Hafner. He struck out the previous three times, (including when Brantley was on third) moving his already pathetic average with runners in scoring position down to .129 (8-62). While Acta says the Indians need pitching help, the bats are also a serious problem.

In 11 of the past 13 games, the Indians have scored three runs or less. As Acta put it when asked about Lowe’s performance “We didn’t score enough runs to win the ballgame anyways.”

The loss moves the Indians back to .500 at 49-49, four games back of both the Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately tonight, they face a daunting task, even for a great offense. Reigning MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander (11-5, 2.42 ERA) takes the mound for the Tigers. The Indians will send out their most consistent pitcher of late, Zach McAllister (4-2, 3.21 ERA) to face him.

 

 

  • Natedawg86

    Didn’t read the article yet, but Hafner needs to cut down on the SOs.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Those back 2 back errors by Cabrera were to much. Just unable to overcome those kind of mistakes.

  • Harv 21

    A loss tonight and the next sound might be that of the window slamming shut for another few years.

    In other seasons I’ve put part of the blame on the manager when the team putters out. Not this year. To me Acta is like a pilot doing his best to gerryrig stuff in the cabin as instruments don’t respond and the plane nosedives, trying anything just to keep it in the air as long as possible. Move Choo to leadoff to see if that finally clears his head, call the squeeze because Cunningham can’t do anything but bunt. Biggest fear is this isn’t player underachieving, it’s FO overestimation. Maybe Masterson’s one year was an aberration, maybe the league adjusted to Tomlin, maybe Santana is what he will be and maybe Cabrera can’t or won’t condition himself for a five-month season. In their contention window this team is simply mediocre. See no talent influx possible right now, no reason to hope they’ll get red hot as will be needed to make a playoff run.

  • cmm13

    Cutdown is an understatement.

  • mgbode

    the beauty of baseball is that you never know. take a look at the As. they traded what was thought to be the strength of their team (starting pitchers Cahill, Gio, etc.) and they grab some scrap-heap guy from the Giants and a bunch of supposedly okay prospects and have one of the best rotations in the AL right now.

  • mgbode

    agreed. he doesn’t have to try to hit a HR with every swing.

  • mgbode

    in 2012 Hafner has struggled w/ RISP, but in 2011 he was dominant. just one of those small sample size things that even out over time.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=1573&position=DH&season=2011

    2011 bases empty .217 RISP .383

  • Harv 21

    yeah, did the beauty of baseball thing for 3 decades before the 90s mashers. Didn’t work until we started drafting better players. That’s fine, hope is good. But don’t see us positioned for a surprise, like the As or last year’s Cards or us with a critical mass of careering players in ’07. We don’t know. Except when we do.

  • Natedawg86

    When he swings. I have been seeing some called strike 3 SOs a lot too it seems

  • Natedawg86

    I hate seeing him up there recently with RISP. May be just the ABs I have been seeing, but he has not looked good

  • nj0

    Sorry to sound negative, but Derek Lowe was pretty bad during April and May too. He was just extremely lucky.

    You don’t have to be a stat geek to realize that a 1:1 BB/K rate and putting on 1.5 runners an inning isn’t a recipe for sustainable success.

  • Garry_Owen

    Disappointed. Really thought that Lillibridge was going to make a difference last night. Tonight must be the night!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They do a masterful job at creating starting pitchers that’s for sure.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    was that one of those 60% games played seasons? πŸ˜‰

  • mgbode

    fair enough. alot of the strikes that get him into that count are pure uppercuts though.

  • mgbode

    did anyone see this year’s As as positioned for a surprise?

    (though they did outbid us for Cespedes – a not mentioned enough whiff on fixing our LF woes this past offseason)

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • dwhit110

    I’d rather watch Rich Yett pitch than see Derek Lowe get the ball again. Time to get Gomez up here, Lowe has looked cooked for the past 6 weeks.

  • Garry_Owen

    On one SO last night, he just watch 3 straight pitches – but argued on every one. There was a better response – he was holding it in his hands – but he chose to get angry and frustrated instead.
    Maddening.

  • WFNYJon

    Not being picky–it’s just my favorite stat.
    Derek Lowe is the only qualified SP in baseball with MORE walks than strikeouts this year! Which means your 1:1 rate is something to which he aspires.
    Turning the K/BB leaderboard upside down, Lowe is 1st, Jimenez is 3rd, and Masterson is 15th.
    This is not a playoff team. This is not a playoff team. This is not….

  • nj0

    Lowe’s complete game shut out earlier this year may have been the most unimpressive and/or luckiest cg shut out in modern basbeall history. All I remember about it was a huge pitch count, four walks, and ZERO strike outs.

  • nj0

    The lesson is that the Indians should (need to?) adopt a dance based on Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.

  • Natedawg86

    Yeah I was laying in bed with my 3 yr old and we were watching it on my phone. I had some choice words but had to remain quiet. I am seeing more of that lately

  • playing left out

    lowe is done. he jeopardizes our chances of winning each time he goes out. i’ll take whatever “fasuto” can give us in that spot. and hafner should sign a two yr contract after this season for $2 to make up for the millions he stole from us. cant believe how much he gets paid and how little he does.

  • mgbode

    to be fair to Ubaldo:
    Apr/May he had more BBs than SOs 6 times
    Jun/Jul only once
    *Not coincidentally, ERA drop from 5.79 to 4.97 in that time.

    Masterson also improved from 4 to 2 (though one of those was the doozy 7BB 1SO vs. Rays game). ERA drop from 5.14 to 4.12

  • mgbode

    that and pickup every starting pitcher the Giants waive

  • mgbode

    Stark (ESPN) saying that we are out on Greinke (were we ever in?) but keeping tabs with the Rays should they make Shields available.