Marcum assesses first four starts with Indians as a ‘rollercoaster’

Shaun Marcum allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings as the Indians lost to the Orioles on Friday night.

CLEVELAND — Four starts in, the verdict on Shaun Marcum’s stint as the Indians’ fifth starter can be best judged as incomplete.

Friday’s 6 1/3 inning stint against Baltimore was another example of that. In the 5-2 loss, the right-hander was effective the first time through the order but then allowed two runs in the fourth and an Adam Jones home run in the sixth.

In his four starts since being recalled from Columbus, Marcum is 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA.

"It seems like it has been a rollercoaster. One start is decent and the other one not so good," Marcum said after the game. "My mechanics and arm slide felt better this time."

Marcum added that he felt better this start compared to last Saturday’s in Seattle where he allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. The difference in that game though is that the Indians gave Marcum an early cushion. This was the first time that the Indians had not scored four or more runs when the right-hander has started.

While the rest of the rotation can rely on power, Marcum can’t since his fastball averages 86. He is a precision guy who relies on deception and placement.

"As they saw him a couple times, and he left some balls up, that’s where they got their scoring. But again, he goes six, gives up three," Terry Francona said. "He knows what he’s doing, and you can’t run on him. He lost the plate a couple times on some pitches where you could see him almost spin off his delivery. But when he executes his pitches, he’s just fine."

Marcum said he felt better mechanically this time and felt like he was locating his pitches well. The one mistake though ended up looming large. After the Indians scored two in the fifth to tie, Adam Jones came up in the sixth and launched a 0-1 changeup into the bleachers in left to put Baltimore up for good. Marcum said that he was trying to throw a changeup down and away but left it in the middle of the zone.

When asked if he anticipated the early starts in Cleveland to being a struggle, Marcum said he didn’t especially after going 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in Columbus.

Cardale Jones tosses first pitch at Indians game

"I felt like I was back where I needed to be location wise," Marcum said. "I don’t know if the last couple starts I have been trying to do too much or make the perfect pitch. If I kind of do that things get away from you. I just have to try to throw the ball instead of make the perfect pitch and see what happens."

While Marcum has walked only seven against 21 strikeouts, he has allowed six home runs in 21 innings. Marcum should get another start, which would likely be on Thursday against the Mariners, since there isn’t that many options. T.J. House is still trying to regain his form in Columbus. Jhoulys Chacin has tossed seven innings or more in his last three starts with the Clippers, but whether he is ready to be called up is a big unknown.