Game #9 Observations: Indians Offense Remains Dormant in 3-0 Loss to Minnesota
The opponent did just enough at the plate, while the Cleveland Indians’ offense was unable to provide much of anything.
I should probably clarify. After all, the above sentence now accurately describes more than a few games from this past week. In fact, tonight’s loss against the Minnesota Twins was almost a carbon copy of Friday’s defeat.
Once again, Minnesota’s thunderous lineup was prevented from doing too much. Yet, once again, it didn’t matter.
Thanks to another quiet night from Cleveland’s offense, three runs was all the Twins needed to take home a 3-0 victory.
It’s become quite a concerning trend, as the Indians have now scored two runs or less in all but three of their nine games this season. They’ve lost three of their last four, and they’re making a habit of spoiling the efforts of their rotation.
Admittedly, Carlos Carrasco wasn’t as sharp as he looked in last Sunday’s win against Kansas City. He went 6.0 innings, allowing three runs -- all on solo home runs -- while striking out five. Minnesota hit him hard frequently throughout the night, as he allowed an average exit velocity of 95.6.
Still, he did enough to keep his team in the game.
Unfortunately, he was instead saddled with a loss. Cleveland could only muster two hits, failing to bring anyone across the plate. The offense is now averaging just 2.8 runs per game, and has scored just three total since this past Wednesday.
Unlike the usual early season funks, cold weather isn’t a valid excuse.
Here are a few more observations from tonight’s loss.
Another Offensive No-Show
Yes, I implied we were changing topics. However, enough can’t be said about how badly Cleveland is currently struggling to score.
The Indians entered the night collectively slashing .222/.317/.323 with a .290 wOBA, numbers which certainly won’t look any better after tonight’s dud.
Only five Cleveland hitters made it to first base, three via walk.
The highest exit velocity generated came from catcher -- and career .221 hitter -- Sandy León (108.1).
The Indians’ two-through-five hitters -- José Ramírez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes -- went a combined 1-for-15 with six strikeouts. Reyes whiffed to end the game, spiking his bat into the dirt in frustration.
The moment served as a pretty accurate summary of Cleveland’s offensive performance to date.
Under normal circumstances, this could be dismissed as a funk Cleveland could eventually work its way out of. This year, we’re already 15% of the way through the season.
This is only the Indians’ third series, so it’s still too early to think this is life for the next couple months. However, Cleveland’s bats need to wake up in a hurry. Otherwise, the starting rotation is going to have to focus solely on shutouts for the foreseeable future.
Admittedly, Roberto Pérez was struggling out of the gate this year. However, ever since he was sent to the IL with a shoulder strain, a glaring hole at catcher has been exposed on Cleveland’s roster.
León struggled at the plate once again tonight, going 0-for-3 with two K’s. He’s now batting .154 on the year. His backup, Beau Taylor, has yet to get on base in his six plate appearances this season.
Neither player has done much in their respective careers to indicate brighter days are on the horizon, which just further hammers home how badly Pérez’s presence is missed.
For what it’s worth, manager Terry Francona seemed encouraged when updating local media about Pérez before Saturday night’s game.
“He's still three or four days away from the throwing,” Francona said of his ailing backstop. “He was examined by Dr. [Jason] Genin, and they thought he was doing really well.”
One would hope Pérez is on the way to a speedy recovery. If not, Cleveland may have to look outside the current roster to find a solution at catcher.
Sustained Success From the Bullpen
A deflating night like this can’t be without some sort of silver lining. For that, we can look towards the bullpen, which has performed quite well nine games into the season.
Cleveland’s relief corps entered Saturday with the sixth-best ERA (2.14) and third lowest FIP (2.57) in the majors, and said success continued tonight. Adam Cimber and Cam Hill each logged an inning’s work, allowing no earned runs or hits.
Cimber also logged a strikeout, one which occurred against a lefty. Considering the slash line he’s allowed to southpaw hitters over the past two seasons (.308/.409/.585) this is indeed a moment worth celebrating.
Overall, while many wondered how effective Cleveland’s bullpen would be this year, the unit has been holding its own so far.
The Indians hit the field again tomorrow afternoon, looking to split the series with Minnesota before heading to Cincinnati for a four-game set against the Reds.