Indians pitch away another chance at victory

Indians pitch away another chance at victory

Published Apr. 2, 2011 3:58 p.m. ET

CLEVELAND -- Well, after two games, it’s safe to say the Indians could use a little work in the pitching department.

And we’re saying that after they paraded out the best two guys in the rotation.

We’re also saying it after the Indians dropped an 8-3 decision to the visiting Chicago White Sox on Saturday, a game in which the home team surrendered 11 hits. On the plus side, that’s quite an improvement over the opener, when the Indians were pounded for 18 hits in a 15-10 defeat.

But no matter how you spin it, the truth is the Indians have a ways to go in a tough AL Central Division that is heavy at the top, with the likes of Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit.

That fact is clearly not lost on the fans, either. In just the second game of the season, the Indians managed to set Progressive Field’s all-time low in attendance.

Announced crowd: 9,853.

More realistic number: Somewhere around 6,000.

Amount of time before utter panic sets in: Probably about a month.

“It’s up to us to win and get fans excited about the team,” said the Indians’ Travis Hafner.

The veteran designated hitter has certainly done his part, compiling four hits (including a home run and two RBI) in his first nine at-bats.

But hitting is not the issue here, folks. So far, it’s been youth and pitching.

On Saturday, the victim was right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco, who allowed seven runs (all earned) and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. His worst moments came in the second, when the White Sox scored four times.

Again, this was an improvement over Friday, when the Indians were forced to rally from a 14-0 deficit in the fourth inning. But the bottom line is the Indians can’t keep trying to play from behind.

“We need to put up some zeros early in the game to give our offense a better chance to come back,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “We’ve put ourselves in a hole two straight games and that makes it tough to come back.”

Acta, for one, is not overly concerned -- nor should he be after just two games. There are still 160 to go and no way are Carrasco or opening day starter Fausto Carmona really this bad. At least, you sure wouldn’t think so.

“It’s only been two games,” Acta said. “I think both guys will be fine.”

Also, Chicago’s powerful lineup can’t be emphasized enough. The White Sox are blessed with the likes of Adam Dunn (1-for-3, 5 RBI in two games), Carlos Quentin (2-for-4, two doubles, two RBI), Gordon Beckham (2-for-4, two RBI) and Paul Konerko (1-for-3, RBI), just to name a few. That’s potent, World Series-contending stuff.

“They’re really swinging the bat well right now,” Acta said. “They’re very aggressive.”

Meanwhile, the Indians have compiled a few highlights of their own at the plate. Third baseman Jack Hannahan is 4-for-9 through two games, with a homer and three RBI. Two of those RBI came Saturday.

Also, Hafner is looking like he did earlier this decade, when he played so well the Indians devoted an entire section of seats in his honor. But “Pronkville” is gone and so are most of the fans who sat in that area -- a play on Hafner’s nickname of Pronk.

And before the Indians can plan on doing something similar for another slugger, they will need to get a little something more from the guys throwing the ball.

And who knows when that might be?