Hooley: Anybody seen the Indians' bats?

Terry Francona has two aces and three 5s. That's a good poker hand, but a lousy starting rotation

Just when the Cleveland Indians looked like a runaway train, someone found the brakes to stop their getaway.

Baseball is a funny game, unless the joke's on you.

The Indians were laughing it up last weekend when they swept the Twins in four games at Minneapolis to take over first place in the A.L. Central.The Tribe parlayed that into three wins in four games at Baltimore to fatten their lead and came home with designs on furthering their getaway in the standings.

Instead, Minnesota shut down an Indians offense that had erupted for 22 doubles, 13 home runs and 56 runs winning seven of eight games by limiting the Tribe to two runs in three games in a sweep of Cleveland at Progressive Field.

That drops the Indians back into second place in the Central and underscores a troublesome question the Indians may have to face as the July 31 trade deadline approaches:

Do they have enough quality starting pitching to win it all this year?

Right now, you'd have to answer, no.

The Indians have Cory Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, two bonafide aces, and after that they have three guys who are just barely good enough to be a fifth starter on an average team.

Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar haven't been good enough or consistent enough to be counted upon in big games like the Indians want to play in the post-season.

Salazar, in particular, has been an epic disappointment. At this time last year, he was well on his way to earning an All-Star berth. He was 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA in the first half of 2016, but since then is 4-8 with a 6.16 ERA and is trying to work his way back from the disabled list.

Don't look for answers in the minors.

The best option there, Mike Clevinger, is wildly inconsistent...emphasis on,wildly.

Clevinger averages 5 walks per-start and the other night in Baltimore also hit two guys.

The Tribe's bats delivered him that night, but were no where to be found over the weekend against Minnesota. The Indians never had the lead in any of their 3 losses to the Twins. They were held scoreless in 25 of 27 innings, got outscored 13-2 and went 1-for-23 with RISP.

The one hit they did get with a man on second base didn't score a run. In all, the Indians left 30 runners on base.

This team plays like one in need of something major to shake them up and get them focused.

Indians fans will hate this, but I'll float one possible solution -- a trade of second-baseman Jason Kipnis for a front-line starter. Kipnis is signed for three years after this year. So is Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox.

He's a nasty lefty that would look pretty good in between Kluber and Carrasco in a playoff series, and he's signed for less than Kipnis in future years. The Indians would have to throw in an additional highly-ranked prospect, but the deal makes sense to me.

A lot more sense than what I saw this past weekend at Progressive Field.


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