Some 13 years ago, I had a Nintendo 64 and “All-Star Baseball 2000”. I got my parents’ money’s worth on that game dozens of times over as my dad and I would play for hours on end. In that game, based off the 1999 roster, Bartolo Colon was the Indians’ ace. He sported a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. That fastball I vividly remember: 98, 99, 98, and so on as I retired hitter after hitter. I probably pitched with Colon half the time as he was a dominate hurler and made winning quite easy.
Fast forward to present day (and real life), and Bartolo Colon is a 39-year-old who no longer has the blistering heat. Instead, his heater sits in the high-80s and low-90s, but it still has plenty of movement and deception. That deception was more than enough to solve the 10-piece puzzle that is the Indians offense right now. Colon lasted 8 innings and made one mistake to Carlos Santana, as the Indians came up short with a ninth inning rally and lost 8-5 to the A’s.
Colon was calculated and deliberate in his dispatching of the Indians as they were retired 1-2-3 in five of Colon’s eight innings. He piled up the flyball outs early, and with the speed off his fastball, Colon’s has went to far less of a strikeout pitcher1 to more of a contact pitcher, using that movement on the heater to remain effective. His home run ball credited to Carlos Santana in the 7th was a fastball that Colon left up and out over the plate. Colon walked none and allowed just five hits to gain his 10th win of the season.
Meanwhile, Corey Kluber towed the rubber for the Tribe, and he had one disastrous inning. In the third, Cliff Pennington hit a slow ground ball to shortstop, which Asdrubal Cabrera quickly fielded and made an awkward throw to first base. Kotchman planted one foot on the bag and lost balance with the other as the throw headed toward the dirt and surprised him with its path. Kotchman was unable to field the throw cleanly, and Pennington reached. That meant the four runs that Kluber allowed via a RBI groundout, a RBI single by Reddick, and a 2-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes were all unearned. The error had its role certainly, but Kluber compounded it by allowing good swings from the A’s with his hanging breaking balls. Reddick and Cespedes each crushed one high and fluttering in the strike zone. It’s not Kluber’s fault, but he’s just not really a prospect. Not someone I have any sort of excitement watching. Not someone who should have a prayer of being in our starting rotation last year, this year, or any year going forward in the future. Kluber lasted five innings, allowing four runs (all unearned), four hits, walking three, and striking out two.
The only other action of note came in the ninth inning. Pressure off, the Indians finally started to swing the bats. Cabrera singled, then Shin-Soo Choo launched a 2-run home run off Evan Scribner. Following that, Scribner retired two of the next three hitters with Brantley reaching base on a single. Then, for some reason, manager Bob Melvin pulled him in favor of Jerry Blevins, who gave up another two-run homer, this time to Brent Lillibridge. After a Jason Donald single, Melvin went to his closer Grant Balfour who retired Ezequiel Carrera to end the game.
My closing thought is when you have such a tame and shallow offense, it’s pretty hard to win games, even against a team without a ton of offensive firepower like the A’s. The Indians basically have five Major League caliber players healthy in the lineup. It’s no coincidence they’re hitting 1-5 (Kipnis, Cabrera, Choo, Santana, and Brantley). After that, the depth is so bad that the Indians have been going with 12 hitters for several games now. Could we please at least get Matt LaPorta, Russ Canzler, or Tim Fedroff up here? You know, to give a vague attempt at showing that you are trying to win games and score runs? I know, it’s just too much to ask.
The Tribe and A’s finish out the series this afternoon. Justin Masterson for Cleveland will face Jarrod Parker for Oakland.
(Photo: Ben Margot/AP)
- Just 3 in this game [↩]