Skip to main content

Game #15 Observations: Indians Forget to Bring Offense to Chicago in Loss to White Sox

Thursday night seemed like a breakthrough for the Cleveland Indians’ frostbitten offense.

After hanging 13 runs on the Cincinnati Reds, the Tribe created a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the days of clunky at-bats would soon become a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, there’s still some work to do on that front.

The Indians were unable to build any momentum from Thursday’s thumping of Cincinnati, reverting back to their run-scoring woes in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Essentially, Friday’s defeat followed the same step-by-step process many Cleveland games have taken this season.

Step one -- receive a gem of a performance from your starting pitcher, which the Indians got from Aaron Civale.

Step two -- reward said performance with minimal run support.

Step three -- head into the clubhouse wondering when this offense is finally going to kick into high gear.

Cleveland spent most of the night stranding numerous runners and spoiling several opportunities to break the game open. It was an all too familiar sight, one fans surely hoped wouldn't return this quickly.

Here are a few observations from the loss.

Aaron Civale Continues to Shine

Let’s start with the good news. That came in the form of Civale, who keeps proving his 2019 debut was no fluke.

Admittedly, the second-year starter’s night opened a little shakier than anticipated. Chicago hitters worked him to 22 pitches in the opening frame, as Civale struggled a bit with his control. Only four of his offerings from the first inning registered as a called or swinging strike.

However, Civale soon settled into a groove, navigating his way through 7.0 innings pitched while allowing one earned run. White Sox batters created minimal quality contact against him, as he allowed an average exit velocity of 89.1 on 20 batted balls.

Meanwhile, the control trouble from the first inning was merely a bump in the road. Utilizing a five-pitch combo, Civale notched 25 called strikes on 97 pitches.

As mentioned, though, Cleveland was unable to give him much in return. The lone run Civale allowed, which came on a double play, was enough to tag him for a loss.

In his last 13 innings pitched, Civale has received one run of support. He’s certainly doing his part to ensure the back-end of Cleveland’s rotation remains formidable, yet he’s still struggling to get much help offensively.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Absentee Offense

In the Indians’ defense, they did manage to get numerous runners on base in this one. Cleveland drew eight walks on the night, displaying notable patience at the plate.

In a sense, this almost makes the shutout more upsetting.

The Indians were only able to notch four hits. They effectively ran up the pitch count of Chicago starter Dylan Cease, ensuring his appearance lasted just 5.0 innings. That said, Cleveland was unable to hit him too hard, putting ten balls in play with an average exit velocity of 81.9.

This isn’t to say the Indians didn't create some quality run-scoring opportunities. Twice during the game, Cleveland loaded the bases and came away with nothing to show for it.

In the second inning, the Indians put three runners on with no outs, as ideal a situation as you can ask for. What followed was an Oscar Mercado strikeout on three pitches and catcher Sandy León grounding into a double play.

Three frames later, Cleveland loaded the bases again, this time with two outs. Yet, despite having the ideal hitter -- José Ramírez -- coming to the plate, the threat was nullified via a groundout.

Overall, the Indians left ten stranded, going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Whatever confidence was established from the night before, it didn’t seem to make the trip for the series opener.

Concerns with Mercado

Projections outlets couldn’t have been more pessimistic about Mercado heading into the 2020 campaign. Almost all of them predicted a sophomore slump for the outfielder, thanks to his generating a low amount of quality contact during last year’s rookie season.

For now, it seems those outlets may have been on to something.

Coming into the game, Mercado was slashing .132/.175/.132 and boasting a wOBA of .145. Said numbers aren’t going to look any better come Saturday morning.

Mercado went 0-for-3 Friday night with two K’s, including the aforementioned strikeout during Cleveland’s first legitimate scoring opportunity. While he did have one of the harder hit balls on the night, it ended up being nothing but a 101.8 mph groundout.

It goes without saying Mercado’s year is off to a rocky start. He entered the game with a BABIP of just .185. Even when he’s making contact, he’s just not seeing much success with it.

As far as solutions go, Cleveland doesn’t have many options.

None of the team’s outfielders have stood out offensively so far. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Indians continued rolling with Mercado in hopes that he can eventually put this funk behind him.

The Indians are back at it against Chicago Saturday afternoon, with Zach Plesac making the start and hoping to get a little more help than Civale received in Friday’s shutout.