Game 58: Twins 6, Indians 4

Drew Butera scores on what was scored a wild pitch.

In baseball, everything happens gradually. A team making the playoffs often has to win 90 games, and winning that many games takes time. It also takes time for perceptions in baseball to change as well. For example, the conventional wisdom going into the season was that the Indians would be among the worst teams in the league, and even after six weeks of having the best record in baseball the "are they for real?" question was still being asked.

Because it takes such a long time for trends to be recognizable in baseball, you don't often recognize them as they happen. Even an awful week of baseball is no big deal if you believe a team is still a good one. There is no specified point in which a trend is supposed to become evident. Losing six games in a row doesn't mean a team is automatically, even if that streak happens at the beginning of the season. But those points of clarity will happen sooner or later, when either all attempts at reasoning to the contrary fail, or some one event crystallizes those suspicions that had been subconsciously building in your mind.

This game was one of those clarifying points. The Twins had half their lineup on the DL, including many of their productive hitters, but scored six runs off Josh Tomlin, some in legitimate ways, some in semi-legitimate ways, and some that were just plain gifts. Now a contact pitcher may be a poor matchup against a lineup that seems to be counting on contact to score runs, but Tomlin made some awful pitches. Strike-throwing is his game, but throwing a high fastball on an 0-2 count with two runners in scoring position is taking that strategy too far.

Then there was the defense. With a runner on third with two outs in the fifth, Carlos Santana didn't block a low pitch, instead electing to catch it; the ball bounced away, and the Twins scored their third run of the inning. Matt LaPorta looked like as if he'd never played first base before. LaPorta is still a productive hitter, but not productive enough to be a full-time DH. The Indians are not expecting Matt to win Gold Gloves, but they are expecting him to know where the second baseman is, and how to deal with plays involving the pitcher covering the base.

Add another offensive outing where Michael Brantley and Asdrubal were responsible for most of the runs, and you have the continuation of a really bad trend, a trend which has the Indians falling towards .500 and beyond.





Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Brantley .183 Tomlin -.385
A. Cabrera .174 Santana -.307
Sizemore .123 LaPorta -.131
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