The Cleveland Indians haven’t gained much ground in the AL Central. They’re still looking up at every team in the division not named the Chicago White Sox and, again, they fumbled away a series in Detroit this weekend.
After going 2-4 this week, the Indians are still 6.5 games out of the division lead and 3.5 behind the third-place Tigers. They have struggled to attain any sort of consistent offense, scoring three runs or less in each of their four losses.
As poorly as they’ve played for most of this season, the Indians are still within striking distance in the division. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the tenth week of the season:
May 16, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitterDavid Murphy
(7) reacts during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Indians defeated the Rangers 10-8. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
First, let me apologize for this glaring omission for the last couple weeks. Not only has Murphy been hot over the last seven days, but the left-handed veteran has been scorching hot for upwards of a month now. Hitting .400/.439/.547 in the last 30 games, Murphy has been seemingly unstoppable at the dish. He’s 12 for his last 35 and collected eight hits and 19 at-bats this week. Not to nitpick, but he isn’t driving the ball into gaps like he did last season. He has been limited strictly to singles for much of the season so, perhaps with Carlos Santana struggling, Murphy might be a better fit in the two-hole behind Jason Kipnis.
Holy smokes does Moss strike out a lot. Although he’s fanned 20 more times than anyone else on the Indians, he has been everything the Tribe hopes for when the team acquired him this offseason. Moss leads the way with 11 home runs on the season and he has surpassed Michael Brantley – for now – with a team-best 35 RBIs. Add in the fact Moss is hitting seven points above his career average and the Indians’ veteran outfielder has been exceptional this season. This week, Moss collected eight hits in 24 at-bats, clubbed one home run and added two RBIs.
Aviles got hot just in time for the Tribe to move him back into his more fitting utility role with the recent call-ups of Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela. In six games this week, Aviles hit .315/.409/.316. He was 6-for-19 and walked three times for the second-best on-base percentage of the week, behind only Murphy. As well as Aviles has played lately, he is still more suitable as a part-time utility man. He will likely spell both Lindor and Urshela the rest of the way, and he gives the Indians a right-handed bat off the bench who they can to put the ball in play.
May 25, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians first basemanCarlos Santana
(41) looses the grip on his bat on a foul ball in the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Indians keep waiting for Santana to morph into the .300-plus hitter Manny Acta predicted he’d be several years ago and it just hasn’t happened. Now 29 years old, Santana is quickly becoming a liability in the Indians’ lineup. While there is certainly something to be said for getting on base, drawing walks can’t continue to be his lone offensive contribution. He continues to struggle considerably and has his season average down to .217 – and it’s trending in the wrong direction. While he isn’t completely void of value, the Tribe might be better suited giving Moss more time at first base to clear up space to get Ryan Raburn and Murphy more at-bats.
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Gomes continues to feel his way through the season, as he is still just 21 games into his 2015 campaign. He pushed his average up to .239 with nine hits over five games last week, but he’s fallen off drastically this week. Now sitting at .210/.224/.321 on the season, Gomes is quickly making his way up the list in the strikeout category. He’s whiffed in 22 at-bats already this season, but it’s still nothing to get too considered with just yet. The Indians are still holding out hope their Brazilian backstop will recover and hit closer to last year’s .278 mark by season’s end.
Every week it seems at least one of the Indians’ relievers gets hammered and, this week, Cleveland watched as both Webb and Atchison were knocked around pretty good. Atchison surrendered a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez in what was a 2-0 ballgame on Sunday, and Webb allowed the Tigers to extend their lead with three earned runs of his own two innings later. Atchison now owns a season ERA of 7.31 while Webb, whose ERA had sunk to 1.02, has now allowed four earned runs in his last three outings.