CLEVELAND, Ohio — If Francisco Lindor ever gets tired of swinging a bat for a living, he may have a future in stand up comedy.
After Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to the Twins, a loss that dropped the Indians’ team batting average to .206 (57-for-277), Lindor was asked if there was anything specific that pitchers were doing to baffle his teammates and him nine games into MLB’s 60-game sprint.
“They’re just throwing the baseball,” said Lindor. “They throw the baseball and we’re out. That’s what they’re doing right now. If they throw me anything and I’m out.”
But really Frankie (get the rim shot ready) just how badly are you swinging the bat?
“They could throw a rosin bag right now and I’d probably pop it up,” said Lindor.
This from a guy who had one of just two Indians hits in Saturday’s loss. Lindor is hitting .222 (8-for-36) with two homers and six RBI. Those aren’t good numbers of the four-time All-Star, but on an Indians team that is averaging 2.78 runs per game, they look gaudy.
“We just have to compete, compete, compete and make adjustments,” said Lindor. “If we don’t make adjustments as big league hitters, we are not going to go anywhere. I’m one of those guys. It’s taking me longer to make adjustments and I’m very accountable for it. We’ve got to make adjustments.”
Right-hander Kenta Maeda, facing the Indians for the first time, threw them a steady diet of sliders and change ups, with an occasional fastball. The Indians just kept making outs.
The Indians are 5-4 and have slipped to third place in the AL Central behind the Twins and Tigers. Nine games into a normal season that would not be a concern. But this season is already 15% over and if the Indians want to be a factor — assuming they avoid the coronavirus and the season is played to a completion — they have to start scoring runs.
Carlos Santana, Franmil Reyes and Domingo Santana can’t just take up space in the middle of the lineup. They have to produce. Right now they’re hitting a combined .200 (15-for-75) with one homer and five RBI.
“It doesn’t matter really, the length of the season,” said manager Terry Francona. “We’re in August now. That’s how you treat it. We’ve got to sprint to the finish regardless (of how long the season is). We’re trying to get games under our belt quickly so guys can get comfortable, but there are five teams that are really packed closely together in our division.”
The only Indians player who looks like himself at the plate is Jose Ramirez. He’s hitting .375 (12-for-32) with two homers and five RBI. Ramirez hits No.2 and Lindor No. 3 in the lineup. Everyone in baseball knows that if those two don’t hit, the Indians aren’t going anywhere, even with an expanded postseason. Especially since they’re getting no help from the bottom third of the lineup.
The last three batters in Francona’s lineup are hitting .108 (9-for-83) with one homer and five RBI in nine games. Over the last four games, they’re 1-for-37.
In that regard, could there be too much pressure on Ramirez and Lindor to carry the lineup in such a dramatically altered season?
“No, not at all,” said Lindor. “This is a team sport and every guy in the lineup can play the game very well. It just so happen that we got caught in that stretch where seven or eight hitters are struggling and you have the one hitter (Ramirez) that is not.
“Usually you have three or four hitters who are doing really good and the others are struggling. Right now we’re at that state where 7 or 8 hitters are not doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Lindor believes the Indians are going to hit as long as they strive to adjust.
“We can hit. We were doing it in summer camp,” he said. “We were doing it in spring training. We showed signs of what we can do, but like I said if we don’t make adjustments, if I don’t make the adjustments pitch after pitch, I won’t be successful.”
Adjustments are one thing. The time it takes to make them is something completely different because in a 60-game season time expires much faster than in 162 games.
“I’m excited for what the future is going to look like here in Cleveland with the pitching staff and the hitters,” said Lindor. “The hitters we have are really good. They’re young, but once we start making the adjustments faster we are going to be really good. Maybe that’s tomorrow, maybe that’s next March. Whenever it is, I hope it’s fast.”
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
More Indians coverage