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Bullpen Blows Golden Opportunities as Tribe Goes 3-4
Posted By Bradley Ross On Aug 7 2011 @ 11:28 pm In Cleveland Indians | No Comments
If games ended after the 7th inning, the Indians would be on fire. Unfortunately they don’t and you need to have a bullpen. The hitting has finally been solid and the starters have been quite good. The bullpen has been the culprit this week and so the Indians have blown multiple leads. This is the 2nd road trip that was ruined by a bad bullpen. Still, it could be worse.
The Indians are a little bit under .500 on the road and they faced two of the best teams in the AL, who win 62% of their games at home. Considering all of this, 3-4 might seem acceptable but after these four losses (which could have been salvaged) happened, as a fan I want more.
Indians’ starters have an ERA of 4.04 during this road trip. They did not eat innings as one would hope which gave the bullpen more opportunities to blow it. The culprit today (as before) was Joe Smith. Smith, Chris Perez, and Rafael Perez have all been rocked this week and so the bullpen sports an ERA of 6.53. Considering how the starting pitching was and the offense that the Indians had, it is disappointing to only win 3 games.
On offense, Asdrubal Cabrera was on fire as usual, but was joined by a few other bats. Jason Kipnis has been blazing too. He has hit 5 HR in the last week and managed a HR in 4 straight games. It’s a sad statement about Matt LaPorta this year that he is being completely outhit by a rookie middle infielder. Kipnis is supposed to be a good hitter, but so is Laporta. Carlos Santana also had a monster week, hitting .300 with 8 RBIs. The best news when it comes to hitting may be that Kosuke Fukudome might finally be starting to find his groove. He isn’t taking as many walks as usual (still figuring out AL pitchers/strike zones), but he is hitting at a solid clip. Even better, Shin Soo-Choo is starting his rehab assignment and could be back in the line-up really soon.
Ubaldo Jimenez is also struggling a bit to get used to the AL. He gave up 5 runs in 5 innings (albeit, one of those was an inherited runner the bullpen let score), but also struck out 7. The stuff is there and the control isn’t bad, he just hasn’t faced these hitters before. 7 strikeouts is a great outing. A start like this would be a bigger deal on some teams but this rotation is deep. Fausto Carmona may actually have found it mentally. He has a 2.94 ERA in his last 6 starts and 2.80 in the last 4 (since coming back from injury). Four of those were quality starts and one of the 2 that wasn’t, he left with injury. I don’t know if they can rely on him long term, but this has been a nice revelation, as has David Huff. Huff came up to replace Mitch Talbot and ever since has been dominant. He has only 1 earned run in almost 18 IP over 3 starts.
Generally, if your offense scores 5.4 runs per game and the starting pitching is solid, you go at least .500 in a week. That’s assuming the bullpen is better than awful which this week, it was not. Chris Perez is on a very cold streak, but he has shown he can recover. He has to actually do it.
This upcoming homestand will be decisive because its a divisional showdown. The next 3 games will be against Detroit where thankfully the Indians have their 1-2-3 starters going. Cleveland needs to win every series (especially against Detroit) when their big pitchers are pitching or else they are going to lose serious ground in the division. They also are facing the 4-5 starters of Detroit but do have to face Justin Verlander.
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