Suddenly, the Indians have gone from legit contender with a power packed lineup and lights out bullpen, to a team on shaky ground complete with a bullpen in a state of flux. This should come as no surprise. In fact, to quote Wahoo’s on First’s Steve Kinsella, bullpens are fickle. Well, they don’t get any more fickle than the Indians current rag-tag group of miscreant relievers who lost another close game on Monday, 4-2 to the Reds.
Perhaps even more disheartening than the failure of the bullpen is the fact that the Tribe managed to squander another outstanding performance by embattled starter, Ubaldo Jimenez. Over the course of 7 innings of work, Jimenez kept the powerful Cincinnati Reds lineup at bay. He allowed only 2 run on 4 hits despite also walking 4. His saving grace on the day were the 6 strikeouts he was able to use to help get him from one inning to the next.
Offensively, the Indians struggled against Cincinnati’s Mike Leake. They only managed to plate 2 runs and only one was earned, a pinch hit solo home run by Jason Giambi. It’s not exactly the type of offensive performance we’ve come to rely on over the past couple of weeks and it was even more surprising considering the ban box that is Great American Ballpark.
Anyways, the Reds scored early and they scored late to edge out the victory. Former Indian Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a solo home run to left. Tribe nemesis Brandon Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to right in the bottom of the sixth to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, following Giambi’s game tying homer, Nick Hagadone allowed two runs when Joey Votto homered to left, scoring Choo and securing a 4-2 lead. Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth and finished the Indians off 1, 2, 3.
The Good: Jason Giambi’s late inning pinch hit home run was definitely a positive. That’s why he’s on this team, to provide power off the bench as well as veteran leadership. That’s why Francona went to him in a pinch hit situation and he made sure to deliver by destroying a pitch to dead center.
The Bad: The bullpen. Once again, the bullpen couldn’t come through. This time it was the recently recalled Nick Hagadone who allowed the game winning home run to Joey Votto. Chris Perez won’t be back anytime soon and Vinnie Pestano has had his own problems. If the Indians can’t figure out who is going to handle late game situations, things might get a whole lot worse before they get better.
The “Huh?”: It was a bit strange to see Francona go to Hagadone right off the bat on Monday. Hagadone had struggled prior to his demotion to triple A. Seeing Francona go to him immediately seemed a bit weird. Understandable with the lefties headed to the plate for the Reds, but still odd none the less. If he was trying to re-instill Hagadone’s confidence, mission not accomplished.