Last night the Indians continued what has become a frightening trend to begin the 2013 season. That being said, they just can’t seem to get going offensively. The end result was another night of frustration as the Tribe watched the Red Sox walk out of town with a three-game sweep.
Things got going early for both teams on the second inning. In the top half, Daniel Nava started the scoring when he delivered an RBI single following a Mike Napoli triple to lead off the inning. Yes, you read correctly. Mike Napoli, the not so fleet of foot catcher/DH tripled to lead off the inning. We should have known right there that this wasn’t going to be the Tribe’s night. Despite that, the Indians responded in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a RBI ground out to from Mike Aviles.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as the game would get. In the top half of the fourth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a laser to right that just barely cleared the wall into the Boston bullpen. The solo shot put the Red Sox up 2-1 and it was a lead they would not relinquish. They would add to the lead in the fifth after a Dustin Pedroia RBI single, and again in the seventh when an error by second baseman Cord Phelps seemingly opened up the flood gates.
The Indians did put up a valiant effort to try to get themselves back into the game. They tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth following a lead off double by Mike Aviles, and ground outs from Phelps and Drew Stubbs. They scored again in the eighth after Carlos Santana yanked a double over the head of Shane Victorino in right to score Michael Brantley. Then, with Asdrubal Cabrera on third and Santana on second, threatening to score, Nick Swisher struck out to end the inning and the threat.
Despite the repeatedly woeful offensive performance from the Indians, the responsibility for last night’s debacle falls squarely on the left arm of Boston ace Jon Lester. He is having a tremendous start to his 2013 campaign and continued a solid run of pitching against an Indians team struggling to find its way offensively right now. With the performance, Lester moved to 3-0 on the year with a microscopic ERA of 1.73. Even more impressive is the fact that Lester has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his four starts.
As for the Indians, they’ll look to rebound this weekend against the noobs of the American League, the Houston Astros. It will be a good chance for them to get back on the right track. The Astros are one of the more talent deprived teams in all of baseball thanks to a rebuilding project of the grandest proportions and should provide the Indians with an opportunity to get their pitching and hitting back on the right path.
The Good: Zach McAllister pitched well again. Over the course of 6 innings of work he allowed only 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks. He also managed to strike out 7 Red Sox in the process. It was the type of performance that was good enough to keep the Indians in the game and even win it, that’s if they could have put together any sort of sustainable rally offensively. All of that aside, McAllister looks to be the real deal and a legitimate Major League starter. Any debate can officially be put to bed.
The Bad: The offense. They were only able to generate 6 hits and 3 walks on the night. When they did manage to get runners on base they did very little to keep the momentum going. Two of their three runs were scored on ground outs and in the eighth inning, when they actually were threatening to put multiple runs on the board, a strike out ended the rally and any real hope of a come back. I’ll go ahead and say what everyone is probably thinking. This team is going to miss Michael Bourn.
The “Huh?”: Mike Napoli’s triple. Sure, it wasn’t a triple in the same way that Michael Bourn might get a triple. In other words, he didn’t hit the ball into the gap, turn on the after burners, and stretch a sure double into a triple. Rather, Napoli was the beneficiary of some tricky wind and a favorable bounce off of the wall in right. It doesn’t matter how you score it, though. Mike Napoli tripled.