CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – “Confounding,” “baffling,” and “perplexing” are words that have been used by multiple Indians personnel to describe the 2017 season to date. Tuesday’s 2-1 loss was yet another all-around confusing night for the reigning American League Champions.
A night after a 15 run, 19 hit comeback win, the Indians mustered just 3 base hits, none of those coming between the 3rd and 8th innings.
What makes the offensive struggles so puzzling just a day after good at-bats turned a 7-run deficit into a win was the pitcher who retired all but 4 of the 21 batters he faced.
The home team came into the game as the third-best team in baseball against the slider, with a 4.7 pitch value against sliders. Rangers starter Tyson Ross throws the slider as his secondary pitch, but threw it 57 times out of 98 pitches because of the Indians’ inability to adjust to the pitch.
Of those 57 sliders, the Indians swung and missed nine times, the only pitch from Ross that garnered a swinging strike. They also watched 13 sliders for strikes, accounting for 81 percent of his called strikes.
Of the eight sliders the Indians put in play, five were flyouts, two were weak groundouts, and the other was left over the middle for Lonnie Chisenhall’s RBI single in the 2nd. The pitch garnered the lowest average exit velocity (75.8) of any of the five in Ross’s arsenal, with no slider being hit harder than 95.3 mph.
“His ball moves all over the place and I think he had a tough time finding the zone early,” Indians Bench Coach Brad Mills said. “And then he was able to find enough strikes a little bit later to stay in the count and not get too far behind. The biggest was that his ball was moving and we just weren’t able to square anything up.”
Adrian Beltre is a lock to be inducted into the hall of fame one day, but even his contribution to the Rangers’ win, a game-winning home run off of Cody Allen, was confusing in ways.
Allen’s first pitch to the third baseman was a fastball, up-and-in, a pitch Beltre must have been looking for based on his lack of success against that pitch in that area.
Take a look at where the pitch was, and how the 38-year old has fared against in since 2007 in SLUG% and HR/Ball in Play.
You are seeing that right, as the game-winner was Beltre’s second home run in 67 balls in play on four-seamers up and in. Of his 69 plate appearances against the pitch, he is slugging .275, equating to a single every four times through.
While the result did not back up the predicted result, the thought in throwing the pitch was well-founded in that either Beltre would watch the pitch and fall behind 0-1, or would struggle to do anything with it.
“Yeah I felt like it was a pretty good pitch, kind of what we were trying to do to him there,” Allen said. “He got me. He took a good swing. It wasn’t a bad pitch. He was just ready for it, didn’t’ miss it. He’s done it quite a few times.”