It wasn’t long ago the season looked promising for the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe was 16-12 in May and pushed their record to within two games of the .500 mark. Since then, though, Cleveland has fallen to 33-41 and has lost nearly every series this month. This week, in particular, the Indians fell in two of three to both Tampa and Detroit before being swept in Oriole Park by Baltimore.
It hasn’t been pretty and the team’s struggles are clearly weighing heavily on the hitters, then forcing starters to pitch to perfection to earn a win. They’re 18-18 on the road and they’ll look to close out the month on a high note with two in Tampa before turning the page to July.
Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the twelfth week of the season:
Jun 14, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians third basemanGiovanny Urshela
(39) makes a throw against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
This has really been a month-long trend for Murphy. Hitting .538/.571/.769 again this week, the veteran left-hander collected seven hits in 13 at-bats over the last seven days. Unfortunately for Murphy, the Tribe has struggled mightily to get guys on base in front of him so his solo home run accounted for his lone RBI — and also his lone extra-base hit — of a disappointing week for the team as a whole. Despite his .306 average with runners in scoring position, Murphy has tallied just 19 RBIs on the season.
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The rookie third baseman seems to be finding his stride at the plate, as he’s tallied six hits in 18 at-bats this week. Highly regarded as a free swinger, Urshela has done an excellent job limiting his strike outs, fanning just three times in the last seven days. While his gap-to-gap power has been mostly absent in the first 17 games of his career, Urshela has made a significant impact both in the field and at the dish. He is getting better every week and, now with his average drawing ever closer to that .300 mark, Urshela could soon find himself moving up toward the middle of the Indians’ lineup.
Though Kipnis saw his hitting streak end at the hands of the Orioles yesterday afternoon, he put together another impressive week for the Tribe. Collecting eight hits in 25 at-bats, Kipnis led the team in hits (8) and RBIs (3) in an otherwise pitiful week in Cleveland. Kipnis has pushed his season average for .342 this season and continues to drive the ball all over the field. The Tribe’s struggles have nothing to do with the incredible play they’ve gotten from their young second baseman.
Jun 17, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians first basemanCarlos Santana
(41) reacts during a pitching change in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
It is incredibly difficult for guys to miss a significant portion of the early season. Much like Kipnis did last season, a lot of players spend their season trying — unsuccessfully — to catch up. Gomes, unfortunately, is in a similar situation this season. He is hitting just .192 on the season and is striking out at a much high clip than he did a season ago. This week, Gomes mustered up just one hit in 11 at-bats, adding two RBIs and four strikeouts to another disappointing stat line. The looming All-Star break will be a welcomed rest for the Tribe’s backstop and could be the opportunity Gomes needs to regroup before heading into the stretch run.
Looking for a reason for the Tribe’s inconsistent offensive performance this season? Look no further than the middle of the order combination of Santana and Moss. Together, the two are hitting just .196 (29-for-148) with runners in scoring position and the team is a combined .224 (134-for-599). Both Santana and Moss are in the top 10 in the league in opportunities with runners in scoring position, and both players are to blame for the Indians’ inability to score runs. Cleveland has scored just 66 runs in the month of June, the fewest in the league, and is averaging a miserable 2.8 runs per game.
As good as Rzepczynski has been for most of the season, he was painfully bad this week. It took him just three pitches to throw away Friday’s strong performance by Corey Kluber. Zep allowed one run and three hits without recording a run in that outing before allowing another run in last night’s onslaught. He has seen his ERA jump more than one run over the last seven days and has now posted a 6.75 ERA over his last seven outings. Cleveland’s bullpen, as a whole, has been largely unreliable this season and Zep’s up-and-down season has only compounded that inefficiency.