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Indians Indians Archive Indians Start Final Series of Road Trip in Seattle
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

kotchman seattleNow in fourth place, and losers of five straight, the Indians travel up the west coast to Seattle to take on the Mariners in the final leg of their nine-game road trip. The season continues to spiral into the abyss as the Tribe has gone just 4-14 in the month of August and hasn’t been competitive in most of those defeats. One would think that they might be able to have some measure of success against a similar foe in this series, but, their defeatist body language says otherwise.

Since the Tribe’s emotional win over Justin Verlander on July 26, they’ve gone 4-18 and have been outscored by 79 runs in those 18 losses. Only two of the last 18 losses have been by one run. In that span, they’ve lost eight games in the Central Division to fall to 11.5 back. They have allowed 10 or more runs six times. It seems that apathy has set in from both the players and the fans.

The Mariners, on the other hand, have stayed scrappy under Eric Wedge, winning 22 of 35 since the All-Star break. They’re riding a five-game winning streak, have won seven of their last eight, and have won 15 of 22. The Mariners have won 12 of their last 13 home games. Also in that stretch, Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s amazing that the M’s are 30-30 at home, given that their team OPS at Safeco Field is just .598.

It appears to be a bad mix for the Tribe that the Mariners have won 12 of 13 at home while the Indians have lost 14 of 15 on the road. We’ll see if those trends continue this week as the Tribe and Mariners meet in Seattle. Here are the pitching matchups:

jimenezhoustonMonday August 20, 10:10 p.m. ET; Ubaldo Jimenez (9-12, 5.62) v. Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.28)

Ubaldo Jimenez is coming off a terrible start in Anaheim where he allowed eight runs in four innings. It was the second time since the All-Star break that Jimenez allowed eight runs in a start. He has allowed five runs twice, six runs once, three runs, and zero runs in his other five starts. Those numbers give Ubaldo an 8.83 ERA over his last 35 innings. Before the break, walks and home runs were Jimenez’s biggest problem as the opposition was batting just .241 against him. In his last seven starts, opposing hitters are batting .331 to go along with 24 walks and seven home runs.

Kevin Millwood’s up and down season continues as he has become nothing more than an innings eater for the M’s. He’s been the winning pitcher just once in his last 14 starts and the Mariners are just 4-10 in those outings. Not to the extent of Jimenez, but Millwood hasn’t pitched real well since the break either, as the Mariners have played much better, but Millwood hasn’t been a part of that. He’s 1-4 in seven starts with a 5.56 ERA.

Jimenez is 2-0 in his career against Seattle and beat them earlier this season at home in a Tribe 9-3 win on May 16. The road has not been kind to Jimenez, as he has posted a 7.54 ERA in 14 starts this season. Millwood is 4-2 against the Tribe in his career with a 4.74 ERA. His last start against the Tribe came back on April 17 when the Mariners staked him to an 8-0 lead off Justin Masterson, but he couldn’t make it through the fifth, allowing seven runs in 4.1 innings.

fausto1Tuesday August 21, 10:10 p.m. ET; Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 7.50) v. Felix Hernandez (11-5, 2.60)

Roberto Hernandez makes his second start of the season after a mixed bag this past week in Anaheim. Hernandez’s defense didn’t do him any favors, but he didn’t do himself any favors either. He gave up 10 hits and eight runs, five earned, over six innings. It was his first start in the Majors with his real name and he looked a lot like Fausto Carmona.

Felix Hernandez is still the dominant pitcher he has always been. His last start was perfection against the Rays with 12 strikeouts. It was his fifth game this season with double-digit strikeouts and his domination at home continued. For his career, Hernandez has loved the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field. He’s 50-32 lifetime in that ballpark with a 3.09 ERA. This year, it’s an even better 2.05.

Roberto Hernandez has never faced the Mariners. Fausto Carmona was 2-3 against them in eight appearances, seven starts, with a 3.10 ERA. King Felix has enjoyed pitching against the Indians in his career with a 5-4 record and a 3.08 ERA. The Indians bombed Felix in his last start against them to the tune of eight runs and 10 hits in 3.2 innings. That came back on May 16.

mcallister bostonWednesday August 22, 3:40 p.m. ET; Zach McAllister (5-4, 3.64) v. Hisashi Iwakuma (4-3, 3.79)

Zach McAllister is still on his quest to impress the Tribe brass as a lot of player evaluation is taking place while the Indians play out the string. McAllister has given up at least three runs in five of his seven starts after the break. Overall, however, compared to the rest of the Indians rotation, McAllister has been their most consistent and best starter. The key for McAllister, and where he has set himself aside from the other Tribe starters, is that he is averaging just 1.5 walks per start.

Hisashi Iwakuma has been a rather two-faced pitcher this season. At home, Iwakuma has a 2.53 ERA compared to a 5.63 ERA on the road. As a starter, he has a 3.19 ERA compared to 4.75 as a reliever. Before the All-Star break, Iwakuma had a 4.84 ERA. Since then, he has a 2.93 ERA. The Japanese import right hander has won three of his last four starts.

McAllister has been battered in two starts against the Mariners, allowing 14 runs, 11 earned, over nine innings. He struggled in his last start against them, walking five over 5.2 innings, and allowed four runs in a no decision. Iwakuma has only faced the Indians once in relief this season and threw four good innings, allowing one run on three hits.


Keys to the Series:

1. Try to Care – As mentioned above, the Indians are 4-18 in their last 22 games and the 18 losses have been by an average of 4.38 runs. Clearly, part of that is the horrendous starting pitching that the Indians have gotten all year, but especially over the last month and a half.

2. Rally for Manny – Manny Acta deserves better. The embattled Tribe skipper has voiced his frustration to the media with the team he has been given to work with. By all accounts, he seems to be a good manager and a guy that the players like. It’s possible that the Indians will let Acta go if they go with a rebuild and the players could decide his fate in these final 39 games.

3. Reward the Faithful – If you’re still watching the games, especially these ones on the west coast, you’re a diehard fan. And, you’re dying hard right now. The Indians need to show some effort to reward those who haven’t moved on to Browns season.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Jason Kipnis. In an effort to wake Kipnis up the way that it worked for Shin-Soo Choo, Manny Acta moved him to leadoff. Over the last four weeks, Kipnis is batting .125/.224/.156/.380. In the leadoff spot, he’s batting .143. In August, he’s batting .114 with a .332 OPS. Kipnis admitted last week that he had gotten tired and that his bat speed was diminished. This is part of the learning experience.


Wishful Thinking:

The Indians will look like a Major League team in this series.


Central Focus:

Chicago hosts the Yankees, Detroit hosts Toronto, Kansas City heads to Tampa, and Minnesota is in Oakland.


One Last Thing...:

The worst part about having to watch this on a nightly basis is that we don’t have some super-prospect in the minors that we can call up and get a look at. Not even a Jason Kipnis or a Lonnie Chisenhall type. Nothing. We’re forced to watch Lou Marson hack away and cringe when Ezequiel Carrera goes after a fly ball. We’re left to watch supposed team leader Asdrubal Cabrera take every other game off. It’s infuriating. Anybody who can still stomach this team is a true fan in every sense of the word. Kudos to you, if there are any of you still out there.

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