(CLEVELAND) – It’s only the halfway point of the Cleveland Indians four-game series with the New York Yankees, but already the “Bronx Bombers” have handed the Tribe two-straight losses and despite being banged up, the ‘Yanks appear to have their eyes locked on a sweep.
After the “Travis Hafner Show” on Monday, the Yankees thumped the Indians 14-1 on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. New York used a three-run homer from Hafner in the home opener and took advantage of a helpless Ubaldo Jimenez for seven runs Monday afternoon only to follow that up by thrashing Carlos Carrasco for seven runs on Tuesday evening en route to their third-straight victory.
Here are some things I gathered from the Tribe’s first two games with the Yankees:
1. Starting pitching still questionable: People called me “negative” when I predicted the Indians to finish the 2013 season with a record of 81-81. Not to mention that would be a 13-game improvement from a year ago (I’m simply being realistic), but the fact is the starting pitching is just too much of a question mark. In back-to-back games Indians starting pitchers have given up a combined 14 runs and excluding Justin Masterson, have surrendered 27 runs over 30 innings this season. That isn’t to say Tribe starters can’t get things turned around, I just think people are beginning to understand why I had my concerns about this club playing over .500 baseball. Starting pitching is the most important part of any club and for the Indians it was their biggest question mark.
2. Bad move by Carrasco: During Tuesday’s drubbing by the Yankees, Carlos Carrasco gave up a two-run homer to Robinson Cano in the fourth inning that gave New York a 7-0 lead at the time. The very next batter, Carrasco drilled Kevin Youkilis with a fastball. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker immediately ejected Carrasco from the game believing the beanball was thrown on purpose. Nobody can be completely sure if Carrasco threw at “Youk” out of frustration, but it is very similar to what he did to get suspended in 2011. And this was his FIRST game back from that suspension! In 2011 Carrasco threw at Billy Butler’s head after giving up a moonshot homer to Melky Cabrera earning him a suspension from MLB. Carrasco essentially did the same thing on Tuesday night. Following the game Carrasco said he slipped and apologized for hitting Youkilis, while Francona admitted it did not look good. My take on the incident: it’s Busch League and Carrasco has some growing up to do.
3. Robinson Cano oh! so dangerous: Before Tuesday night’s game Indians manager Terry Francona said this about Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano: “That's the last guy we want to get hot." Well Skip, you’ll probably have to walk him the rest of this series to avoid any further damage. Yes, I’m kidding…well, sort of. Coming into this series Cano was ice-cold and New York media was starting to panic (as they typically do if a guy has a hang nail). Progressive Field and poor Indians pitching has seemed to be the perfect remedy for Cano, who has three home runs already through the first two games to go along with seven RBIs. Yep, you can stop pressing the panic button Yankee fans, he’ll be fine.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano already has 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in two games against the Indians. AP Photo
4. The “Pronk” of old: Travis Hafner cooled down Tuesday night going 0-for-4, but he sure looked like the guy who hit 42 home runs back in 2006 on Monday afternoon for the home opener. Hafner drilled a three-run homer to open up the Yankees scoring attack in the series-opener, tallied another RBI later in the game and walked twice. Hafner told me before Tuesday’s game he was very appreciative of the reception he received during the Tribe’s home opener, but he also looks forward to the new opportunity he has in New York.
5. Yankees own Indians: I’ll keep this short; over their past eight contests the Indians are 1-7 vs. the New York Yankees. Already 0-2 against the “Bronx Bombers” in the 2013 season, New York won five of six match ups against Cleveland during the 2012 season.
6. Ugly two games for Tribe: There is really no other way to put it, the Indians first two games of the 2013 home slate have been downright ugly. The home opening pageantry was spoiled by an ugly outing by Ubaldo Jimenez, an 11-6 loss that did not even feel that close. Tuesday night’s loss was way worse, a 13-1 drubbing by New York. I suppose the silver lining was the fact that only 12,663 had to watch it the second night, not a sellout crowd like the evening before.
7. Yankees are…well, the Yankees: The Yankees are banged up, injured and not looking like themselves, yet they are still winning. Tuesday night’s victory helped them improve to 4-4 on the season and it appears as if they will be able to tread water until guys like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira return. When the season began I picked New York to finish fourth in the American League’s East Division because of so many question marks regarding that team, but if they can continue to play like they have their first two games here in Cleveland this team may surprise some people even with guys like Jayson Nix, Ben Francisco and Eduardo Nunez getting a considerable amount of playing time.
8. Keep this in perspective: OK Tribe fans, take a deep breath. This probably is not as bad as it appears to be. Yes, the Indians have been blown out two-straight games. However, there are still 154 games left to play, that’s virtually six MONTHS of baseball. A lot of times these first few games are looked at under a microscope because it’s the time anyone has a chance to watch them, but these games are no different than the games that will be played two months from now. This is not an attempt to “sugar coat” these past few losses, but a lot of times the first two weeks of the season are way too overblown whether a team is winning or losing. In 2011 the Indians opened the season 30-15, remember how that ended?
Brett Myers' rough start to the 2013 season continued on Tuesday evening when he gave up 11 hits and 7 runs in just over five innings of work. AP Photo
9. Myers called upon: In an attempt to save the bullpen, Indians manager Terry Francona called on veteran right-hander Brett Myers to stop the bleeding on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. I give Myers credit, that is not an easy role coming into a blowout game to pitch during mop-up time. However, after starting off decent, Myers imploded again. The right-hander gave up 11 hits and seven runs over 5 1/3 innings of work Tuesday night continuing his brutal start to the 2013 season. Again, this was different because he was saving the bullpen, but his start to the season has got to be a concern for the front office, especially because he was given $7 million this season.
10. Roster movement: The only people probably sicker than all of the Indians recent roster movement is Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona. Recent injuries to Carlos Santana (thumb) and Lou Marson (neck) have forced the Indians to call up not one, but two Triple-A catchers in Yan Gomes and Omir Santos and with Carrasco’s ejection, coupled with having to use Myers will likely force the Tribe to call up another starting pitcher by Thursday. This is not how the Indians wanted to start the season, but it is what it is. I will admit, I was thinking spring training went way too smooth injury-wise, now it appears the Indians are suffering from the injury-bug during the start of regular season…which is obviously worse. Playing poorly the first two games of this series has to be frustrating for the club, but doing that with a banged up club has to make it even worse.
- Nick Camino