Smoke Signals: Bad Luck, Double-E’s Start, and The Book

Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – The story of the Indians’ opening homestand through two games have been opportunities.

It is not that the home nine haven’t gotten opportunities, just that they have not produced hits when presented with them. Following Game 2 at Progressive Field, the Tribe remain hitless with runners in scoring position at 0-for-18 to this point.

LF Michael Brantley produced the team’s only run in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday, which did come in with a RISP, though it was an RBI groundout, 3-unassisted to Jose Abreu.

That is not to say that the Indians have not produced at all in those situations, it is just that the batted balls have not been “where they ain’t.”

For instance, Brantley flew out to center following a Francisco Lindor double in the second, and it was a loud out. The left fielder smacked a low-and-in sinker on 1-0 that had a 101.2 mph exit velocity, with a 55 percent chance for a hit, according to Statcast. That came off the heels of Brantley’s last at bat, in which he raked a four-seam fastball to center at 99 mph off of the barrel of his bat.

Following Brantley’s near-RBI in the 6th, and an Edwin Encarnacion walk, Jose Ramirez smacked a four-seamer off of starter Derek Holland that headed to right field at a speed of 98.8 mph. That ball only had a 48 percent chance of landing, despite its speed, and was tracked down by right fielder Avisail Garcia.

“You create your own luck,” Brantley said. “We’ve squared up some balls, but unfortunately that is going to happen over the course of the year. But our main focus is to take one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, and not try to press.”

Edwin’s enigma

Since his Opening Day effort, where he went 2-for-5 with a home run, Edwin Encarnacion has struggled, going 3-for-24. That includes an 0-for-6 stretch at home with 4 strikeouts, and 2 inning-ending double plays with the bases loaded.

Encarnacion, not prone to slow starts, says solving the issue involves making changes.

“I just need to keep making adjustments,” he said. “That is what this game is all about is making adjustments, and that is what I need to do to get unstuck, as they say.”

On Wednesday, White Sox pitchers seemed to find a weakness in Encarnacion’s approach.

chart 1 Smoke Signals: Bad Luck, Double Es Start, and The Book

Notice the line across the low part of the plate? The green are sliders, the other is a sinker. All but one were fouled off, while the middle-slider was swung on and missed.

Stay away

Indians cast-off Anthony Swarzak tossed a beauty of a 7th inning against the bottom part of the Tribe order.

The righty struck out 3B Yandy Diaz looking, got C Roberto Perez to ground out on an 0-2 pitch, and struck CF Austin Jackson out after a long solid at-bat.

chart 2 Smoke Signals: Bad Luck, Double Es Start, and The Book

It looks like he had an idea of how to pitch those three.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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