There is no denying that Cleveland's lineup has labored through the season's first two contests against the Blue Jays, but Indians hitting coach Bruce Fields is not getting overly worked up about the situation just yet. On Sunday morning, Fields reminded that playing extra-inning games can affect how a batter operates.
"Right now, what we're seeing," Fields said, "because of the games being the way they have gone, guys are getting in situations where they want to be that guy and get that big hit, and have that great at-bat. I think we're trying to do a little bit too much. As a result, we're kind of pulling off pitches a little bit too soon and we miss hitting them. I think that's what's going on."
Two games in, Cleveland and Toronto have played 28 innings, marking the first time since 1969 that any teams needed at least 12 innings to decide each of the first two contests of a campaign. The Indians lost both games by a count of 7-4, dropping the Opening Day tilt in 16 innings and Saturday's game in 12 frames.
Entering Sunday's finale of the three-game set, the Indians were hitting .135 as a team and the Blue Jays held a .180 average. Within the Tribe's subpar team average, Fields said there are plenty of positive signs. He pointed to the fact that Cleveland's hitters have drawn 14 walks (tied for the most in the American League) against 17 strikeouts.
On the other side, Toronto has 24 strikeouts and 11 walks.
"You can see it on both sides," Fields said of the offensive struggles. "Both sides are doing the same thing. Overall, I've told the guys, I like our at-bats. I like our approaches. They're not chasing a lot out of the strike zone. We're not striking out a lot and that's a great sign. To me, that's a great indicator that we are heading in the right direction. It's just a matter of settling in and settling down, having a little bit more controlled swings."