The Indians—oh my beloved Cleveland Indians. They are teetering on the brink of bad and boring. Well, at least the offense is. We have seen one solid pitching performance go by the wayside too many times since the All-Star break. This time it was spot starter Zach McAllister who did all he could to keep his team in the game while the bats offered little run support in a 3-1 loss.
Those who aren’t close followers of the game of baseball or fantasy players probably have no idea who Collin McHugh is. In fact, I had no clue who he was until this year. The Colorado Rockies, a team constantly in search of guys who can deal with the altitude, had no use for the right-hander and they let him go. The Astros claimed him and he’s been money in their rotation all year. While McHugh is having a nice year, the Indians made him look like the second coming of Pedro Martinez.
— Zach McAllister
“That curveball of his just has such tight spin, so it’s a swing-and-miss breaking ball,” Francona said. “We hit a few hot balls that got caught, but there weren’t many chances.”
Left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman and his six-plus ERA retired three of the four men he faced before turning things over to ex-Twins starter Sam Deduno, who got Santana on a two-out liner to right.
Poor Zach Attack McAllister. He finally got another chance to make a start and he performed extremely well. He made only one mistake, and it cost him. Before that, McAllister struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced. His fastball was once again hitting 97, which is crazy when you consider he was a 92-93 guy for the past two-plus seasons. He was mixing in an 80 MPH off speed pitch that made Houston hitters freeze. The Astros lone All-Star, Altuve, swings at everything and is a hitting machine. The first of his three knocks on the night drove in two to give Houston a 2-1 lead in the third.
Z Mac gave up seven hits while striking out seven without a walk. You figured that if you could get six innings of two run ball from McAllister, the Tribe would be in great shape to win. That was not the case. They just could never string anything together. Its the same thing we have seen time and time again and will end being the undoing of any hopes of a second straight playoff run.
“I fell behind at times trying to overthrow a bit, so I just let myself relax and really focus on getting the ball down to get back in counts or get ahead,” McAllister said. “It was different. Going to the bullpen was definitely a different thing. … But any time they call your name or number, they expect you to put up zeros and get guys out.”
Houston added an insurance run in the eighth when Altuve lead off with a triple against Scott Atchison and came home on a Dexter Fowler sac fly. The bats went rather quietly in the ninth. They got a seventh two-out hit, this time from David Murphy, but Chisenhall’s ground out ended the game as Chad Qualls got the save.
The ill-timed four-game losing streak has pushed the season to the brink. A win out of the final 12 games will almost assuredly have to happen for the team to return to the playoffs a second consecutive year. They will get right back at it Tuesday night with Corey Kluber taking on 24-year old righty Nick Tropeano.