The Tribe’s long-awaited homecoming after a 10-game road trip didn’t go as planned as Jered Weaver shut down Cleveland’s offense as the Indians lost, 3-0, in the opener of a three-game series with the Angels. The loss drops the Indians to 40-39, putting them two full games behind Chicago in the AL Central.
Weaver shut down the Tribe and Ubaldo Jimenez kept the Angels’ bats at bay from the outset as the teams traded goose eggs for the first half of the game until the Halos finally broke the stalemate in the fifth inning. Jimenez hit Howie Kendrick to start the fifth. Kendrick stole second as Peter Bourjos struck out, moved to third on Bobby Wilson‘s single, and came home on Erick Aybar‘s sacrifice fly to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.
Kendrick went on to hit a solo home run in the seventh, and the Angels got their third run when Jimenez walked Alberto Callaspo with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Indians couldn’t get anything going against Jered Weaver. They had some opportunities—including a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the bottom of the seventh—but they could not take advantage of any of them as the Angels cruised to a 3-0 victory.
The Good: Ubaldo Jimenez’ results. I think every Cleveland fan has given up realistic hope that Jimenez will ever regain his 2010 form, so holding a red-hot offense to three runs on eight hits in 7.2 innings is about as good as we can expect from him at this point. I’d happily sign up for that 16 more times.
The Bad: Ubaldo Jimenez’ peripherals. Four walks against only four strikeouts while giving up a home run isn’t exactly a recipe for success, and only 63 of his 112 pitches were strikes. To be fair, two of those walks were intentional, but he also hit a batter and gave up an unintentional four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Turning “effectively wild” into just plain wild has been a theme for Jimenez this year, and that trend has to stop if he is to be a valuable pitcher again.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the lineup. Getting shut out on five hits is always discouraging, but when you’re up against Jered Weaver and he’s at the top of his game, what do you expect to happen?
The “Huh?”: Shelley Duncan has finally gotten some playing time with the DH slot vacant, but he still isn’t getting the respect he deserves in the batting order. Manny Acta put him eighth Monday night, right behind Casey Kotchman. Duncan, of course, is red-hot at the plate right now and is just generally a better hitter than Kotchman. But even if you want to give that less weight than platoon splits, hitting Kotchman ahead of Duncan doesn’t make any sense.
So far this year, Kotchman has a .224/.277/.345 triple-slash against right-handed pitchers; his 70 wRC+ suggests that he has hit 30 percent worse than a league-average hitter. Duncan, meanwhile, has hit .212/.299/.353 against same-handed foes. Kotchman has a small advantage in batting average, but Duncan has him in OBP, SLG, and wRC+ (80). So why give Kotchman priority in the lineup?
Interesting Tidbit: After throwing two perfect innings Monday night, Scott Downs has now held Tribe hitters to a ridiculous .157/.211/.255 triple-slash in 26 career outings versus Cleveland. Of the 26 teams whom Downs has faced at least thrice, the Indians’ .466 OPS against ranks dead last.