It’s just ONE game, but the Cleveland Indians’ worst nightmares were realized on Opening Day as the club collected just two hits.
Opening Day is one game of 162. It’s easy to over emphasize the importance of this one game because by June, it will long be in the rearview mirror. With that said, game No. 1 couldn’t have gone worse for the Cleveland Indians.
The biggest fear surrounding the Tribe was Terry Francona‘s lineup wouldn’t hit. For one game against the Twins on March 28, they didn’t, collecting just two base knocks as a seven-inning, five-strikeout effort from Corey Kluber was waisted.
Kluber allowed two runs and got the loss. The Indians are supposed to win these games. That’s what was spun by the front office this offseason as key offensive players were either traded away, or walked via free agency.
Even though it’s early, the alarm has to be sounding. At this time of the year, pitching is usually always ahead of hitting, and with Francisco Lindor probably out until May 1 (my guess), Tribe batsmen need to support the starting rotation.
The outfield combination of Leonys Martin, Jake Bauers, Tyler Naquin and Jordan Luplow (one at-bat as a pinch hitter) went 1-for-9, with Martin collecting the only hit. Teamwise, second baseman Brad Miller had the only other hit.
Miller hit eighth on Opening Day in a lineup whose bottom three could all go out and bat .200 for the season (Roberto Perez, Miller, Erik Stamets). Not good.
Things will get better…I think Lindor will return and Carlos Gonzalez should be ready to play next week. Every Tribe fan has tried to trade Jason Kipnis 1,000 times, but he’d certainly make this lineup look a lot better.
There’s plenty of time to flip the script, but for the first game, the Indians played into the narrative that the Dolan ownership is cheap, and their salary cuts doomed them to this loss, and possibly many more like this in the future.
I think the Dolan ownership is fine and plays their market accordingly, for what it’s worth. The Indians have been contenders the past four years, yet rank 22nd in attendance over the court of the last two seasons. Plus, their local TV contract pales in comparison to bigger markets. The Angels’ cable deal is worth around $150 million, while Cleveland’s is $40 million.
Could someone buy the team and ignore all the market date and treat the Indians like a toy, throwing endless amounts of cash into the franchise? Sure, but don’t kid yourself. That’s the exception, not the rule.
An 0-1 start is hard to swallow, especially when there’s a day off in-between game No. 2. But it will get better…I think. Hey, at least there’s baseball being played!