The Indians entered Atlanta hoping to continue two strong series against the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins, where they won five out of six games. At the beginning of the series against the Braves, the team was just a few games behind the Oakland Athletics for the coveted second wildcard spot. However, the team lost its third straight on Thursday night, losing 3-1 and getting swept for the second time since the All Star break.
One of the most distressing things about the team has been the lack of support for a strong starting pitching staff. It was more of the same on Thursday night, as Ubaldo Jimenez held the Braves to just 3 runs in 7 innings, striking out 10 batters for the second game in a row yet adding another loss to his record. His only mistake was a 3 run homer that Brian McCann clobbered in the bottom of the third.
Yet the Indians couldn’t seem to take advantage.
The team’s sole run came in the top of the 8th when Lonnie Chisenhall hit his second home run of the month. Aside from that, the team seemed utterly hopeless once again with runners in scoring position. The Indians did manage to get 6 hits off of Braves pitcher Kris Medlen (7.0IP, 0BB, 6K) but none of them put anything up on the scoreboard. The team finished 0-18 on the series with RISP – a great way to play if you’re trying to lose baseball games.
The team did have a few opportunities to get something going. In the top of the 7th, Carlos Santana singled to lead off the inning before Yan Gomes moved him to second with a single of his own. The team had two outs to work with and just a three run deficit, but Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles couldn’t advance the runners.
The Tribe have often been maddeningly frustrating this year. It seems as if the team hasn’t been able to put it all together at times – the pitching is good, but the team couldn’t hit a watermelon; they put up 8 runs, but the other team puts up 9. The only thing they have consistently been is streaky. The Atlanta series was a good example of exactly how cold they can get. The team managed just 3 runs in 27 innings of play.
Next, the Indians will travel to Detroit for a three game series that starts on Friday. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that these games are important – every one is with so little time remaining in the season.
The Good: Ubaldo Jimenez was outstanding, striking out ten in seven solid innings of work. However, what is most encouraging about his effort on Thursday night was the fact that he walked zero. It’s been a great bounceback year for Ubaldo, who has shown serious stuff this year. He definitely hasn’t been the Ubaldo we wanted to see, but he’s been extremely solid, if anything.
Also, the Indians are 71-61 in late August. Be happy, people.
The Bad: The offense, naturally. Nick Swisher: 0-4, 3 strikeouts. Mike Aviles: 0-3. Ubaldo Jimenez: 0-2, 2 strikeouts. (Okay, maybe we don’t have to get too angry at Ubaldo). The team needs to remember how to put runs up on the board. Whether it be luck, fatigue, injuries, I don’t know. Bu if the team wants to reach the postseason, they need to get hot.
The Slightly Interesting Facts: Ubaldo Jimenez became the first Indians hurler since CC Sabathia (3 straight in 2008) to have back-to-back 10 strikeout games. He’s also the first Indians pitcher to lose both of those contests since Dennis Eckersley in August 1976. (Thanks to Jordan Bastian for tweeting those statistics).