There are days that are just better left forgotten, and Sunday afternoon’s “Go Home” game for the Indians was no exception. With many Indians resting on the bench against soft-tossing Indians’ killer Derek Holland, the Chicago White Sox (8-9) staved off a sweep with a 6-2 victory over the uninspired Cleveland Indians (10-8).
The Indians looked a little like the Bad News Bears throughout the game, as a really bad first inning for Danny Salazar seemed to collapse into a domino-effect. It’s hard to dive into any meaningful insight into this game. With Terry Francona letting the “B-Team” shoulder the load with Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley resting their shoulders against the lefty Holland, it appears as if a “Go Home” mentality seeped through the dugout as the game wore on. When you have a travel day, there is some sense in resting some guys. Unfortunately, there appeared to be some focus issues throughout the game.
While I’m far from saying Sunday games are an issue for these Indians, utilizing Sunday afternoon games as extra rest for his players has been an M.O. for Francona throughout his career, and especially over the past couple of years. With the long haul of a potential playoff run, and the mentality the Indians have taken with a seven-month season, as opposed to a six-month season, this mode does make some sense.
The Indians had three official errors in the game, but there were so many mental mistakes, it’s really hard to focus on the official. Sure, Abraham Almonte’s error in the first was a massive error that ultimately could have cost the Indians multiple runs, but Danny Salazar was already laboring, having given up a run on a double, single and a sac fly. The error gave up a run, but Salazar followed with a walk, a strike-out, and then a single, and another walk, before the inning was over. The 35-pitch opus turned out to be the outlier for Salazar, who looked much better past that first inning.
But these are the things that Salazar has to improve to get to the next level. He struck out the side on 12 pitches in the second inning, but that even proves my point more. If you have to get rocked to get to your best stuff in the Majors, something is wrong. Salazar is as talented as any starter on this team, and he’s an effective starter, but the consistency has to improve.
Carlos Santana’s error in the bottom of the eighth gave up a run, but this is after Bryan Shaw gave up a lead-off walk, followed by a single. Hits happen, but giving up a lead-off walk, even if you considered this mop-up duty, is a n0-no in the bigs that high leverage guys shouldn’t do. Sure, mop-up duty, and by the eighth, the game was likely over, but c’mon. Regardless, the error burned Shaw, giving the White Sox their final run.
Michael Martinez, on the team because of his defensive capabilities1, made an error at first on a bunt, and missed a tag at second on a Todd Frazier stolen base. I’ll just leave it there with Martinez.
Roberto Perez didn’t have a great day either. He’s one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, but Perez dropped a ball at home that would have nailed catcher Omar Narvaez by about eight feet. While this mistake feels small, each error or mistake seemingly gave up a run, or ultimately did. When you lose a game 6-2, that feels somewhat important.
In the end, as WFNY’s Michael Bode pointed out behind the scenes, the Indians went 5-1, so it’s hard to get to indignant regarding the Indians loss, but even with a chance to get home to a day off, in April, less than a month into the season, you can’t play professional baseball games like that too often.
So for now, we’ll chalk this up to the “domino-effect.”
The Lindor Home Run
On Thursday, The Athletic’s Travis Sawchik wrote a pretty amazing piece regarding Francisco Lindor “dialing it in” as a hitter. In the piece, Lindor discusses hitting pitches in the zone, and becoming more selective. In the fourth inning, Lindor put this mentality on display.
Lindor fouled off a first pitch curveball in the zone, then fouled off an 0-1 slider. Holland climbed the ladder with his third pitch, a 92 MPH fastball just outside the zone that Lindor laid off, then got the pitch that he’d been waiting for. Holland grooved an 80 MPH curveball right down the middle of the plate, and Lindor didn’t waste his chance.
Lindor hit his fifth home run, tying him for the team lead with five with Jose Ramirez. While Lindor will never be a home run hitter, he’s a case in point for maximizing your at bats. For those out there that don’t think a hitter can change his approach, Lindor is a living and breathing example of how muscle memory and hard work can change the course of how you swing the bat.
It doesn’t hurt that Lindor is a baseball savant either.
The off day
The Indians have a late April off day, and you have to wonder if there are any moves coming down the pipe. This is generally when you see some of the guys like Austin Jackson come off the books if they aren’t playing well, or if there’s someone knocking on the door. That doesn’t appear to be the case. AJax is safe, but after yesterday’s performance, you have to wonder about Michael Martinez.
The good news for Martinez is that Erik Gonzalez hasn’t exactly been raking in Columbus. Of course, that seems to be the status quo of the 25th spot in the line-up.
The (Hate) List
- Derek Holland–We should trade for him, then do absolutely nothing with him
- “Go Home” days–Need to get better at these sporadic weird Sundays in which the Indians are clearly thinking about other things.
- Wasted 25th men–because I’m sick of saying, “how awesome this is all we have to worry about!” I’d rather worry about nothing.
- Roberto Perez only playing sometimes–He’s awesome defensively, but playing once or twice a week isn’t doing him any favors. Hopefully, Gomes comes out of his funk, because if they keep playing him, getting him right is going to be an issue.
- Road Trips–I’m ready to see some Indians baseball, and here come the Astros…
- Francona said this, not me [↩]