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Tito: Indians' bats will come around vs. LHPs

Francona attributes struggles against lefties to cold lineup, not systemic issue
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Increased exposure to a specific type of pitcher is usually a good thing for an offense. That has not been the case for the Indians, who have seen more than their fair share of left-handed starters in the season's first two weeks.

In a 4-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, the latest lefty to carve up Cleveland's lineup was Detroit's Matthew Boyd. The southpaw spotted his fastball and kept the Tribe off-balance with a sharp changeup. That mix helped quiet an Indians offense that enjoyed a 13-run, 19-hit outburst less than 24 hours earlier.

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CLEVELAND -- Increased exposure to a specific type of pitcher is usually a good thing for an offense. That has not been the case for the Indians, who have seen more than their fair share of left-handed starters in the season's first two weeks.

In a 4-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, the latest lefty to carve up Cleveland's lineup was Detroit's Matthew Boyd. The southpaw spotted his fastball and kept the Tribe off-balance with a sharp changeup. That mix helped quiet an Indians offense that enjoyed a 13-run, 19-hit outburst less than 24 hours earlier.

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"We've gotten opportunities," Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer said. "We've been in situations where we can get big runs on the board or tie it up or take the lead. We just haven't taken advantage of those situations. Sometimes, you've got to credit the pitcher. We're just not getting it done."

Specifically, Cleveland can credit the left-handed pitchers.

Video: DET@CLE: Boyd turns in six innings of one-run ball

Twelve games into the season, the Indians have seen six lefty starters: Martin Perez, Cole Hamels, Patrick Corbin, Derek Holland, Daniel Norris and Boyd. Combined, that group has gone 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA against Cleveland. All four of those wins came via the most recent four left-handers, who held the Tribe to just one earned run over 24 innings.

Part of the issue is that Cleveland's lineup has yet to click on all cylinders as a whole. Slugger Edwin Encarnacion has yet to tap much into his power. Leadoff man Carlos Santana has labored of late. Catcher Yan Gomes has been in a funk since the season's outset. Guyer and Austin Jackson -- who play primarily against lefties -- have also been cold.

"It's different styles of pitchers," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I like our lineup against lefties. It's just the first [12] games of the year, we've seen six of them. When Guyer starts getting on track and doing some damage, things like that, it'll look different."

A year ago, Guyer hit .336 with a 1.021 OPS against lefties. After his 1-for-3 showing against Boyd on Sunday, the Indians' outfielder is now batting .158 with a .396 OPS through 19 at-bats. The sample size is small, but it helps explain why Cleveland headed into Sunday's action hitting . 206 (.627 OPS) against lefties this year.

Video: DET@CLE: Boyd shows quick reflexes to rob Guyer

In the sixth inning on Sunday, Boyd struck Guyer out with two outs and a runner on second, preserving Detroit's 2-1 lead.

"Personally, I've had a lot of situations, and I haven't gotten it done," Guyer said. "That's really frustrating."

Boyd nearly threw as many changeups (27) as four-seamers (31), highlighting one of Cleveland's weaknesses at the moment.

According to Statcast™, the Indians are batting .125 with a .125 slugging percentage against left-handed changeups this season. Entering Sunday, the Major League average was a .199 batting average and .313 slugging. The Indians went 1-for-6 against Boyd's changeup with a single, one strikeout, one flyout and three groundouts, including two inning-ending double plays.

Boyd did not show the Tribe the changeup in the first inning, but he fired it more often as the game wore on. He ended with one run allowed in six innings of work.

"I've got my game plan," Boyd said. "And you go into the game with your strengths. But, as the game goes on, you make adjustments as they make adjustments."

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 listen to his podcast.

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