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Tribe hoping to find footing, consistency

Despite tough road trip, Francona confident in Cleveland's talent
MLB.com @MLBastian

DENVER -- The Indians arrived at Coors Field this week having heard all about the young and hungry Rockies. Over the past two days, Colorado showed the Tribe what the hype was all about, shutting Cleveland's offense down and piling up the runs against the Indians' pitchers.

One year ago, that is what the Tribe did to other teams. The Indians were the surprise contender, and they shocked baseball all the way to a division crown and an American League pennant. In the wake of an 8-1 loss on Wednesday, Cleveland still looks like it is waiting for that old magic to show up again.

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DENVER -- The Indians arrived at Coors Field this week having heard all about the young and hungry Rockies. Over the past two days, Colorado showed the Tribe what the hype was all about, shutting Cleveland's offense down and piling up the runs against the Indians' pitchers.

One year ago, that is what the Tribe did to other teams. The Indians were the surprise contender, and they shocked baseball all the way to a division crown and an American League pennant. In the wake of an 8-1 loss on Wednesday, Cleveland still looks like it is waiting for that old magic to show up again.

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"I hope we're not waiting for it, because then it's not going to come," Indians relief ace Andrew Miller said. "That's not the way it works. We're fortunate that it's a long season. I think there's 25 people in here, there's a staff that believes we have better baseball ahead of us. But we've got to play it. We're not doing it right now."

In Cleveland's two-game stop in the Mile High City, the Rockies outscored the Tribe, 19-4, and they forced manager Terry Francona to make 12 strolls to the mound for a pitching chage. In Wednesday's loss, righty Trevor Bauer was gone after giving up four runs in 3 1/3 innings, and that followed a four-inning start for Mike Clevinger in Tuesday's 11-3 loss.

Overall, the Indians' bullpen logged more innings (8 2/3) and pitches (164) than the rotation (162 pitches in 7 1/3 frames). While the pitchers were being trounced, Cleveland's hitters were being shut down. In the two defeats, the Tribe scored all four runs on homers, with the lone breakthrough on Wednesday being a seventh-inning solo shot from Jose Ramirez.

Video: CLE@COL: Ramirez crushes solo homer in 7th inning

That is not the brand of baseball that propelled the Indians to the top of the AL Central last year.

"It's like we have to hope some nights," Francona said. "We need to go out and play the baseball we know how to play and dictate the pace of the game. ... The only thing we're really consistent in is being inconsistent. In our game, if something comes up short, you usually pay for it. Either we make an error, or the starting pitching doesn't go deep, or we don't get any hits.

"What I really care about more than anything is our ability to just value how important every game is, and leave it out on the field. If it's not good enough, then we'll come back tomorrow. If we do that, we're going to be OK."

Video: CLE@COL: Shaw induces inning-ending double play

After posting a 1-4 record on this road trip through Kansas City and Denver, the Indians will have the chance to gather themselves during Thursday's off-day ahead of a six-game homestand. Maybe the past six days can serve as a kind of wake-up call for a Tribe club that has struggled to find its footing to date.

The good news is that the Indians -- coming off a World Series appearance -- know the talent exists within its clubhouse.

"Other teams, they don't care what we did last year," Miller said. "They don't care what we were picked in the preseason, or what people think of us now, or what the experts are still talking about. We have to go out there and win games, and we're not doing it as often as we think we should right now. And, if we want people to change their opinion on that, we've got to go out there and do it."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians