After winning two straight games against the defending American League Champions, in which the Padres ragtag bullpen shut down the Indians offense, the third game of the three-game set was marked by a different story entirely.
Despite winning the series with the victories on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Padres didn’t really show up to play in a tough 11-2 loss in Cleveland.
The Padres head to Philadelphia to play the Phillies this weekend to close out the first half of the MLB season.
Following a one-two-three top of the first for the Padres at the plate, the Indians wasted no time getting on the board in the bottom half of the inning.
After a flyout from second baseman Jason Kipnis to start off Cleveland’s day, young shortstop Francisco Lindor singled up the middle against Dinelson Lamet. The pitch was a 95 mph that Lamet left right down the middle of the plate that Lindor hit off the bat at 104 mph.
Following a Michael Brantley triple, this time on a 90 mph changeup hit nearly 107 mph off the bat, the Indians found themselves quickly ahead 1-0.
You can see pretty clearly on the Ramirez home run ball that Lamet completely missed his spot, as catcher Luis Torrens was setting up out of the zone, and the pitch ended up catching way too much of the plate. Lamet struck out Lonnie Chisenhall to end the first, but he ended up running into trouble once again in the third inning. After a leadoff walk, which was followed by a single and an error, Lamet found himself in a bases loaded, nobody out jam. After a sacrifice fly to Chisenhall, Lamet walked Abraham Almonte, once again loading the bases. Yet another sacrifice fly, this time of the double play variety, got Lamet out of the inning, but not before another run crossed the plate.
Following yet another leadoff walk, Lamet set the Indians down in order in the bottom of the fourth, striking out two of those three batters. After coming out for the bottom of the fifth and giving up a leadoff home run, Lamet was through. Despite the catcher setting up low and away, Lamet once again missed with a fastball that caught too much of the plate. With that, Lamet’s day was done after five earned runs and six hits in four-plus innings. With four walks and two long balls, it’s clear that Lamet had a tough go of it on the day.
It’s pretty clear that Lamet lacked fastball command all night, and he was pressing to make good pitches, and therefore making mistakes in the strike zone.
Lamet also sported an alarming trend on Thursday night, as he effectively became a two pitch pitcher against the Indians. The list of two pitch pitchers who succeed in the majors is very short, so Lamet is going to have to better utilize his changeup as an out pitch if he hopes to show big league success. He has shown plenty of flashes of brilliance, but with each good start it seems like there has been just as many downright awful starts. With five balls hit over 100 mph, it is evident that Lamet was not fooling Indians hitters with his fastball.
Over the first handful of starts of his big league career, Lamet has lived and died by his fastball/slider combination and his ability to induce swings and misses. Lamet has now made eight starts in total, with three of them being disasters, three being really great, and two being solid. The common thread in his good starts are lots of strikeouts, few walks, and command of all the pitches in his arsenal. In the bad starts, Lamet has struggled with command, and thus tilted his K/BB ratio more towards the walk side of the equation. If Lamet is going to be a successful big league starter, he is going to need to command all three of his pitches both inside and outside of the strike zone. It’s really been a night and day difference when Lamet attacks the zone and utilizes all three of his pitches. Until that happens more consistently, there are bound to be more starts like Thursday through the remainder of this season.