Indians starting in opposite direction of 2011

BY foxsports • April 12, 2012

The Indians, who got off to the fastest start in the American League last year, 30-15, might have trouble coming close to that this year. The Indians Wednesday concluded a disappointing season-opening home stand with a 10-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

The Indians lost four of the five games during the home stand. Making it even more frustrating still is that they got spectacular starting pitching in three of the five games.

On opening day, Justin Masterson pitched eight innings, allowing one run on two hits, with 10 strikeouts and one walk. The Indians lost that game, 7-4, in 16 innings.

In the second game of the season, Ubaldo Jimenez retired the first 17 batters and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Jimenez pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on one hit. The Indians lost that game, also by 7-4, in 12 innings.

In the third game of the home stand, Derek Lowe pitched seven strong innings, not allowing an earned run. The Indians did manage to win that one, 4-3.

Pitching, clearly, wasn't the problem on the home stand. Hitting was.

In the fourth game, the Indians achieved the difficult feat of going into the game with the same team batting average they had at the end of the game: .153.

For the five games, they batted only .176 and averaged four runs per game.

One of their problems is that they were too reliant on home runs in order to score. Of the 20 runs they scored in the five games, 13 were the result of home runs.

Manager Manny Acta says he's not concerned about the lack of offense. He believes it's still too early to panic about the struggle to score runs.

General manager Chris Antonetti likewise said he's not worried. "I'll be concerned if this is still happening a month from now," he said.

NOTES, QUOTES 

--DH Travis Hafner hit his first home run of the season Wednesday, a mammoth 433-foot blast into the second deck in right field. Hafner also hit a two-run double in the game. "He was good the whole spring," manager Manny Acta said. "We're expecting him to do some damage this year."

--RHP Justin Masterson, who gave up four runs in the first inning and took the loss in Wednesday's game, said it's too early to be concerned about the slow start by the Indians, who lost four of five games on their season-opening home stand. "It's early in the season and we're still feeling our way out, getting into our rhythm," he said.

--RHP Jeanmar Gomez, whose scheduled start Tuesday was postponed by rain, pitched two innings of scoreless and hitless relief on Wednesday. Manager Manny Acta said he wanted to give Gomez some work to keep him sharp for his scheduled start Saturday in Kansas City.

--1B Casey Kotchman, who batted .306 for Tampa Bay last year, finished the Indians' five-game season-opening home stand with an average of .095. "This is not the start any of us wanted, including myself," Kotchman said.

--3B Jack Hannahan, who played a Gold Glove-caliber defense last year, won the starting job at third base this spring largely due to his defense. However, through the Indians' first five games, Hannahan leads the Indians with two errors. Hannahan and 1B Casey Kotchman, another superior defensive player, both made errors in the Indians' 10-6 loss to Chicago on Wednesday. "That's rare, but they are human," manager Manny Acta said. "They are going to make some."

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Number of runs, out of the 20 the Indians scored in their first five games, that were not the result of home runs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have to be because they are the only games we've played. There's nothing else to work off." -- RHP Justin Masterson, when asked if the results of the Indians' first five games of the season, four of them losses, are magnified.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.

--LHP David Huff (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. The timetable for his return was unknown.

--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.

ROTATION:

RHP Justin Masterson

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

RHP Josh Tomlin

RHP Derek Lowe

RHP Jeanmar Gomez

BULLPEN:

RHP Chris Perez (closer)

RHP Joe Smith

RHP Vinnie Pestano

LHP Tony Sipp

LHP Rafael Perez

RHP Dan Wheeler

RHP Jairo Asencio

CATCHERS:

Carlos Santana

Lou Marson

INFIELDERS:

1B Casey Kotchman

2B Jason Kipnis

SS Asdrubal Cabrera

3B Jack Hannahan

DH Travis Hafner

INF Jason Donald

INF Jose Lopez

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Shelley Duncan

CF Michael Brantley

RF Shin-Soo Choo

OF Aaron Cunningham


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