CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Andrew Miller allowing a home run on consecutive outings as a reliever was definitely the most shocking part of Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it did not lose the game for the Indians.
For the second straight night, defensive issues – not even errors – and poor outings from the bullpen marred a fine start and ended in a loss.
The issues were a microcosm of the Indians season to this point, 31-31 on the year. Though the team has rarely had issues with their bullpen, the best in the American league, nor have they had a great year from their rotation, worst in the AL, it was the small things that wound up their undoing.
There lies the source of the struggles.
After taking a 1-0 lead, the Dodgers ran a double steal with men on first and third, in order to sacrifice Joc Pederson on the way to second and score Chris Taylor. Yan Gomes’ throw to second base was snared by Erik Gonzalez who whipped the ball back to Gomes to no avail.
It looked as if Gonzalez could have committed to getting the out on Pederson, possibly before Taylor scored, but Manager Terry Francona alluded to the idea that there was a certain execution in mind.
“We had a bit of a miscommunication there,” he said. “We, and again I don’t want to give our plays away, but (Gonzalez) did the right thing. The timing of the way that we executed just wasn’t what we were looking for.
“Yeah, our priority was the guy at third. We didn’t do that the way we wanted to.”
Behind Corey Kluber’s quality start, the Indians were able to tie the game in the 7th inning on Jose Ramirez’s ninth home run of the year.
Miller allowed the solo shot to Enrique Hernandez in the 8th, which would have been cancelled out a Michael Brantley RBI double in the bottom half, had it not been for another defensive blunder.
Later in the top of the 8th, Miller induced what looked to be an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but upon further review – though fairly obvious at the time – Gonzalez came off of second base. After a video review Cody Bellinger was ruled safe at second, and Corey Seager scored to make it 4-2.
“In the minor leagues, they don’t have replay. So I think guys can get a little bit – I don’t want to say lackadaisical, that’s not the right word – but maybe careless in their footwork,” Francona said. “I was surprised the umpire actually called him out to begin with. Even when they went to replay, it was pretty obvious that he was off there pretty good.”
The snowball effect ensued as Miller was lifted and Zach McAllister allowed a two run single to Taylor, which put the game out of reach.
Baseball is and always has been a fickle game, and the proof has been in the proverbial pudding all season for the defending AL Champions. They have not been doing the little things, and that is why they are in the predicament they are.
“We’ve been inconsistent in a lot of areas and at the moment we’re a .500 team,” Francona said. “So where do we go from here? Fortunately we have a lot of baseball in front of us, but we need to get moving. The guys know that. I know that. We need to…I want to say pay attention to details. And you want to do it while you’re really getting after it. We can’t just have it one or the other.
“I guess that is the way I would describe the play at second.”
100 games remain headed into Thursday’s matinee. The Indians will then jet set to Minneapolis for a four-game series with the first-place Twins, whom the team trails by two games in the AL Central.