It seems to happen every year, these bizarre two game series come up so randomly, bookended by days off. I get it’s probably just a way to make the schedule work, but when you’re used to three and four game set it’s just off-putting. And this is the second one this season, also against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The hell is going on?. Which one is the rubber match? Is it even a series if it’s only two games? What happens when it rains? Are there any horse socks? Is anyone even listening?
So that’s what’s up, the D-Backs come to town on there way from somewhere, a brief respite on their journey to whoknowsville (Phoenix and Miami, respectively).They’re not having the best season, with injuries riddling their lineup and pulling their best hitter, Paul Goldschmidt of the 158 OPS+ and 59 extra-base hits, their starting shortstop Chris Owings, starting pitcher and usually uberdurable Bronson Arroyo, and a host of other names from the field for extended times. Couple that with the whole team being under fire with GM Kevin Towers’ strange obsession with “gritty, hard-nosed, tough” players that just seems to mean being dicks, and anager Kirk Gibson’s fanatical desire to protect the game from perceived slights, this team is on the ropes. That seems generous, but I’ll never count a team out even when I should. I’m an Indians fan, I’d be a hypocrite if I did. It’s likely there’ll be a house cleaning come the end of the season and they might get a GM who isn’t stuck in the 1950’s, but I hope Gibby sticks around. He’s a hard ass and kind of antiquated, but I dunno, I like him.
There’s not much going for this team this year, their best offensive player now that Goldy is down is probably their outfielder fielder, rookie David Peralta. Mark Trumbo certainly isn’t hitting, we’ll get to him in a minute. He’s only got 225 plate appearances to his name so there’s a good chance his .313/.347/.486 line will not sustain. He’s been striking out three times as often as when he walks, only bopped five homers and he’s 26. There’s a reason you hang around the minors that late, it’s usually because you’re little more than a role player. Though Michael Brantley took until this year to be anything more than flat average. He at least walks more though.
Trumbo was a big deal for them this offseason, Towers moving Man With Nothing To Lose, Ultimate Badass Tyler Skaggs as part of his “get rid of all our promising young pitchers” plan. Trumbo strikes out a lot, can’t play much of a position and doesn’t walk super often, but damn if he can’t bring the thunder. There was a lot of excitement about that move, the ball flies there and he hit it a mile in that pitcher’s paradise of Anaheim. He hurt his foot in April though and he’s only played 45 games, so it’s pretty much a lost season for him. I expect him to come back around next year and pop 40 or more dingers but this is his lost season. Too bad too, bombs are the best.
There’s some great names on this team though. Ender Inciarte. Tuffy Gosewisch. Didi Gregorious, who came to them as a piece in the three way trade that netted the Tribe Trevor Bauer and Brian Shaw. Aaron Hill. Wait. Scratch that last one. If anything though, Towers has an eye for strange names that are tied to marginal major leaguers. Enciarte actually did pretty well when the Indians were out in Phoenix, 6-for-12 with a double and two runs driven in, both in big situations. He stirred the drink for the D-Backs in that two game set. His season numbers (71 OPS+, 11 extra base hits in 252 PA’s and a 29/11 K/BB ratio) tell me he’s not good, but he tore the Tribe apart. I don’t know what to believe.
This team is not good. The Indians have ground to make up with the Royals streaking and the logjam for the second Wild Card. They need these wins. Even splitting is bad news. They always say there’s no “must-win” game in baseball, there’s too many games for that, but this is getting there. Losing at home to one of the worst teams in the majors can’t happen, not if October is going to be a thing.