The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Cleveland Pugilists in Minnesota

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 July 2006

The Indians ruffed up Minnesota rookie Francisco Liriano to the tune of five runs (four earned) in five innings on three home runs, upping his MLB-leading ERA to 2.12 from 1.83 in route to a 6-4 victory last night. Cleveland hit four home runs in the game with five of the six runs coming via the long ball. Half of the Indians hits were home runs, in fact. Of the many reasons the Indians are currently six game under .500 and 18.5 games back in the AL Central, one small factor is how heavily their offense relies on home runs to score runs. The White Sox are another team that has relied heavily on home runs, but the White Sox have 1) a powerful 3-4-5 combination and 2) a manager who specializes in creating runs. Thome, Konerko, and Dye are capable of doing little more than hitting home runs. These three do not hit for average and are in the lineup without any pretense other than their power. The Indians, however, have one legitimate home run hitter in Travis Hafner and no one else. Yet in late-and-close situations the Indians play a style of baseball suited for brutish teams composed of players who fit the Thome-Konerko-Dye profile. Witness the Indians game, against Baltimore before the break, in which the Indians had 12 outs to either extend their one-run lead or tie the game, all coming against Baltimore’s bullpen. The Indians failed to score and, not surprisingly, lost the game.

If for the rest of the season half of the hits are home runs the team will have no more success than it had in the first half of the season; four home run games are unusual and if half of the hits are home runs it means very few hits. It’s nice to see the Indians hit home runs, but when the one run that wasn’t the result of a home run was a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded–and the Indians had the bases loaded with no outs–then the Indians’ true problems on offense are being obscured by their fortunate string of power.

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