Tonight was looking like another terrible night for Cleveland and if anyone looked on twitter under #Indians they would have seen just how annoyed Tribe fans are with Cleveland’s inability to come through with runners in scoring position. People were calling off Cleveland’s season and I was also amongst the people thinking Cleveland didn’t look like a team that deserved to even be mentioned in the Playoff race. Of course there is still a lot of baseball to be played but while Cleveland were playing their 91st game of the season middle of the second inning numerous people were starting to think the season looked over.
The first inning today Cleveland were sat down in order by Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson who looked to be on song today. Cleveland’s ace Justin Masterson came out throwing bullets getting clocked at 97mph in the opening inning. Besides his speed he looked a little shaky giving up a walk and a hit with 2 down in the first. Then we roll into the second inning Michael Brantley continued his hot streak drilling a lead off triple to right field, and here we go again tribe have a runner at third none out. In steps Carlos Santana and he…. You guessed it again strikes out swinging on 3 pitches; Travis Hafner (the DH mind you) would hit a little grounder to second for the second out not deep enough to score the run and then Damon who’s streak with the bat may now be over grounded out to first base. Again the Tribe are almost handed a run and they can’t take it.
Tampa Bay would then touch Masterson for 4 runs off of 6 hits; 4 walks; and 4 steals by the end of the 3rd inning and by this stage it seamed that every Tribe fan had taken to twitter to announce there annoyance at Carlos Santana and were calling for his head along with many other players who’s troubles with the bat had seen there loyal fans at boiling point. I don’t know if they had the twitter feed going in the dugout but along came the 5th inning and so did something remarkable A BATTING RALLY!
Carlos Santana would lead off the 5th with a walk. Hafner would then strike out and Johnny Damon would fly out to first. Then a pitch would hit Casey Kotchman and that would begin Cleveland’s rally with the bat. Hanahan then doubled to centre field to score Santana and Kotchman; 2 pitches later Sin-Soo Choo singled to Centre to score Hannahan; Asdrubal Cabrera would also single to centre to advance Choo to third on his first pitch of the AB before Jason Kipnis would ground out to second to end the inning. 3 runs scored on the inning and the Tribe looked like a different team they appeared energised alive and in the game a stark contrast to the lifeless flat footed team 2 innings earlier that gave up an RBI on a 1 out bases loaded bunt to the mound that didn’t even manage to get an out. This team was hi-fiving laughing enjoying the game of baseball. How quickly things and fans can change.
With one down and bases loaded in the 5th Manny Acta made a pitching change and sent in Esmil Rogers, who immediately sat down Elliot Johnson on strikes and then got B.J. Upton to ground out to 3rd to end the inning. Masterson finished his night after 4 &1/3 innings of work and gave up 7 hits, 7 walks, and only had 1 strikeout. So he was pretty lucky to come away with a no-decision really. The sixth inning would come and go quietly with neither team doing much damage to the scoreboard.
Then to the top of the seventh inning that looked ready to go much the same way with Kotchman grounding out and Hanahan striking out to Kyle Farnsworth before Cleveland would go on another 2 out hitting streak. First Choo singled to right field; Cabrera did the same and moved Choo to third; With runners in the corners Jason Kipnis would single to centre and score Choo moving Cabrera to third; Again runners in the corners 2 down Brantley would follow suit and single to centre. In comes Carlos Santana having done nothing at the plate in what feels like forever he drove a 2 – 0 count to deep centre field over the fence for his first homer since May that’s right May. Travis Hafner would then single to left before Damon would get caught looking to end the inning giving the Tribe an 8 – 4 lead that they would never look back from. They would score 2 more in the ninth off Ray pitcher Burke Badenhop and the Rays only scored 1 in the 7th on Sipp and 1 in the 9th on Accardo.
How good was it to finally see the tribe come through in the clutch today and just with the bat in general. The teams spirits looked lifted Santana looked relieved, Asdrubal was hitting balls to all ends of the park and was staying back on off-speed pitches and taking them the other way. Today Cleveland looked like a team that had just had a weight lifted from their shoulders, but if they don’t come through in the 4 game of the series with Tampa tomorrow and cant score runners from third with less than 2 out they can expect that weight to go straight back on. I really hope this is the turning point for the Tribe but I have thought they were there already this year but they dropped straight back down. They sit 3 games behind AL Central Division leader Chicago, and .5 of a game behind the second place Detroit Tigers. Although its to early to worry about Wild Card spots they are one of three teams that sit .5 of a game behind leaders Detroit and the Angles and there are 2 more teams only 1 game behind the leaders. If this is a turn around and Cleveland can start to come through with runners in scoring positions they are a chance to challenge this season I still believe they are but another rubbish spell like they have just had and the competition will be too far away to catch up. With Choo, Kipnis, and Brantley all swinging a hot stick and Cabrera looking like the worst of his slump may be behind him now they have the top 4 of there line-up batting well. I wouldn’t jump to moving Santana back to clean-up until he produces in a few more games but hopefully that 3 run blast has shaken the proverbial monkey from his back.
Tomorrow the Tribe will start Jiminez who has been hit and miss this season against Tampa’s David Price who already has as many wins this year as he did las,t and with an ERA of 2.80 from 119 innings and 113 strikeouts. Price will be gunning of a league leading 13th win tomorrow hopefully the Tribe can continue their good approach at the plate and snatch a win away from the red hot Price.
About the Author
Written by Luke Lovekin
Hi. I’m Luke Lovekin from Sydney, Australia. Ive been in and around sports my whole life. Mostly Baseball but I’ve managed to try my hand at most sports and I’m always keen to learn more about all sports. I have a love for what we call in Australia “Grass Root Sports”. That for us is the local teams each town has and all Junior sports and High School sports and I dedicate as much of my spare time to them as possible without loosing my wife. Feel free to follow me on twitter @Lovekin028. Hope you enjoy my blogs.