Sunday, May 18, 2008

Indians Fall Flat On Their Face in Cincinnati

All the good work that the Tribe put together last week to climb to three games over .500 at 22-19 and vault into 1st Place in the AL Central was undone in one weekend in Cincinnati. The Reds swept away the Indians in three straight in the first Interleague weekend of the season. The Reds came into the series 17-23, dead last in the NL Central.

Once again the dormant Cleveland offense proved fatal as it spoiled excellent outings Friday and Saturday by Jeremy Sowers and Fausto Carmona, respectively. Sunday the offense managed to put a few more runs on the board but continued to struggle with runners in scoring position. They could not pick up starter Cliff Lee who got knocked around for the first time all season.

The bullpen inconsistency reared it's ugly head as Jensen Lewis walked in the winning run on Friday night and Masa Kobayashi blew his first save opportunity of 2008 when he gave up a 3-run bomb to Adam Dunn on Saturday night. Both winnable games that the Indians managed to blow by failing to score more than 4 runs, failing to keep a game tied or failing to hold a late lead.

So the Indians, after winning 8 of 10 games against the Yankees, Blue Jays and Athletics, are back at .500, sitting at 22-22, once again searching for answers for what ails them.
Some interesting notes from the series:
  • The Indians failed to win the series opener for the first time in four series.
  • The Indians have scored 3 runs or less in 23 of 44 games. Their record in those games... 6-17.
  • The Indians started the Reds series 0 for 22 with RISP until Casey Blake hit an RBI single in the 4th Inning of Game 3. They got a couple more hits later in game but it was too little too late.
  • The Reds trotted out three right-handed starting pitchers for the series and Travis Hafner did not start any of the three games. Are his rumored shoulder problems more than the Indians' are letting on?

The only player on offense who really stood out was Ben Francisco. 5-11, 2 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. Kudos to Ben, but when your offensive force scores 2 runs and only has 1 RBI, you have a problem. Michael Aubrey also deserves some props for getting his first ML hit, a home run no less, in Sunday's game. Other than than, nothing much positive on the offensive end.

The Indians play 9 of their next 12 games against AL Central foes Chicago and Kansas City, so it would be a nice time to starting playing like the defending Division Champions and put some distance between themselves and the rest of their neighbors. Whether or not they are capable of that is yet to been seen.

It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.

No comments: