11 days ago, I wrote a piece for Cleveland.com saying that danger time was approaching for the Indians. With the brutal schedule, injuries to Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, and the fact that they weren’t going to continue on a .700 winning percentage pace, the other shoe was going to drop at some point. If they could just stay afloat and get through this brutal stretch and stay far enough ahead of the Detroit Tigers, they could be alright in the end.
I expected to see some sort of swoon, and it appears that it has finally arrived.
Yesterday’s 11-1 loss in Toronto was the Tribe’s fifth in their last six games. Luckily for them, the Tigers haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire either. They have gained just one game on them in the last week and sit five games back. Despite the struggles, the Tribe still carry the largest lead in any division.
There are many concerns right now.
The defense, which has been rock solid for most of the season, seems to have fallen apart over the last two weeks. Yesterday’s physical error by Orlando Cabrera on a double play grounder with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth was bad enough. But he compounded his mistake with a mental error, losing his concentration and allowing Rajai Davis to score all the way from second as he had his back to home plate, angry with himself. That turned a 4-1, manageable deficit to 6-1. Then the most dangerous hitter in the game right now, Jose Bautista, threw salt in the wound with a two-run double. Two batter later, JP Arrencibia doubled in Bautista and just like that it was 9-1 and the Indians were done.
It wasn’t just an isolated incident with OC’s error. His second base range continues to look worse by the day, Going to his right seems to be a problem for him. There is no doubt he is one of the clubhouse leaders of this team and has done wonders working with Asdrubal Cabrera, but it wouldn’t shock me to see red-hot Cord Phelps (.319/7 HR/38 RBI in 47 games) come up from AAA in the Adam Everett roster spot and take some AB’s from both OC and Jack Hannahan, who’s defense is solid, but bat has significantly slowed.
Cabrera is far from the only defensive culprit. Its kind of become contagious.
Of more concern to me however is the pitching of alleged “ace” Fausto Carmona. The big right-hander has been wildly inconsistent this season. He will go two weeks where he looks like Fausto version 2007. Then he will go two weeks where his sinker won’t sink and everything is up. Last night was again one of those nights.
Its one thing to get beaten by Bautista. Its another when Jayson Nix and Davis are lighting you up. If the Indians are going to see this season through, Fausto has to step up his game.
“I don’t know, man,” Carmona said. “I tried to keep the ball down. I missed a couple pitches up. A couple pitches, down in the count, I threw them right down the middle.”
Fausto went just four innings, allowing nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits. For the season, he is now just 306 with an ERA north of five.
It was just not a good day for the Indians in any facet of the game. While they had eight hits, they were 0-7 with runners in scoring position, and got just one run, a Shelley Duncan fifth deck bomb, off of a pitcher (Jo Jo Reyes) who hadn’t won a decision in 28 starts, tying the all-time Major League record.
Now they must turn to the shakiest starter of them all, Mitch Talbot (1-1, 5.87 ERA) to try and stop the bleeding. He will face hard-throwing righty Brendan Morrow (2-2, 4.38) in Toronto. First pitch is set for 7:07 EST.
“Every team goes through some of those,” Manny Acta said. “Some of those big clubs already have gone through longer losing streaks. We’re scuffling this week, but … we’re still hanging in there. It’s a matter of time. We’ve got to be patient and continue to work and our offense will be back.”
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)