Series Review: The Good and Bad From Oakland

Apr 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) and first baseman Nick Swisher (33) celebrate after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning in game two of a double header at Coliseum. The Cleveland Indians defeated the Oakland Athletics 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of Takeaways From Season Opening Series

Late last night, or early this morning, the Indians completed a 2-1 series win over the Oakland A’s. The season opening series was high on drama with the Indians scoring a pair of late inning come from behind victories. From all three games, there were several key takeaways, both good and bad. Here is what caught my eye over the first three games.

The Good:

  • John Axford looked solid in both of his save opportunities. Monday’s save got off to a bit of a rocky start, but he ended strong. Last night, Axford was dominant, retiring the A’s in order. His fastball had good velocity, 930-94 mph, and his control was spot on. Through two games,  this looks like a quality signing.
  • Michael Brantley overcame a bad miscue in the outfield to get the game winning hit last night. This continues to show the growth Brantley has made in recent seasons and continued his trend of clutch hitting in run scoring situations.
  • Justin Masterson looked dominant in his first start of the year. It looks like 2014 is setting up to be a continuation of 2013. That’s great for now, but probably hurts long-term when it comes to signing Masterson to a possible extension.
  • The bullpen performed well as a whole. This was the first time in several seasons where the bullpen had several new faces in new roles. So far the transition has been seem less. The new guys have integrated well with the few carry overs from 2013.
  • Carlos Santana looked comfortable at third base in his limited opportunities. He looked particularly solid in game two when he perfectly charged, fielded a short hop, and threw out the runner at home. There seems to be real potential with this move.
  • Mike Aviles hit the first home run of the year for the Indians. If you picked Aviles to be the first to go yard, congratulations. Now go play the lottery.
  • Marc Rzepczynski pitched great in the night-cap of yesterday’s doubleheader. 2.1 innings and no runs allowed meant Francona could rest his bullpen after two short starts from Kluber and McAllister.

The Bad:

  • Asdrubal Cabrera was good, but he wasn’t great either. Perhaps the most frustrating part was his continued insistence on swinging at the first pitch during key situations. The pitcher has thrown six straight balls and looks uncomfortable? Well, why not bail him out by swinging away? Cabrera did it twice on Monday and both times the runner was nailed at the plate.
  • Vinnie Pestano didn’t look good at all during game 2. His velocity was down and as a result, the A’s knocked him around. Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss tagged him for a pair of long doubles. Pestano is a fan favorite, but with Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi set to return, he could end up being one of the odd men out to make room for them.
  • The Indians offense was great in the ninth inning of all three games. All the other innings, not so much. Hopefully this is more of an “it’s still early and the bats are rusty thing,” and not a larger problem. Well have to wait and see.
  • David Murphy didn’t look terribly comfortable at the plate. Again, it’s still early so we shouldn’t read much into it, butb it’s worth keeping an eye on how he progresses.
  • Corey Kluber did not pitch well. Again, one start should not make or break a season and I’m sure the rain out did little to help him. Let’s see how he responds in his second start next week.
  • Zach McAllister could have been better. Much like Kluber, it will be interesting to see how he responds. He didn’t pitch all that bad and looked pretty good during the middle innings, but it was his first and final innings that were the most frustrating.
  • Finally, it’s clear that the Indians aren’t 100% sure how to utilize Lonnie Chisenhall. It appears he will not be the DH against righties, but rather the spot starter at third on days when Carlos Santana catches.