August 11, 2013
For five innings it look as though the Indians would go winless in a 7+ game homestand for the first time in quite a while. And what timing to go winless, right? Last week at this time the Indians had finished off a series in Miami, and were going into their showdown series with the Tigers only three back in the division race and in control of one of the two Wild Card spots. Six straight losses later, the Indians were in danger of ending the day 9 games behind the Tigers, a half-game behind the Royals, and five games behind the Oakland A's for the second Wild Card. How things can change in one week. It wasn't quite "the penthouse to the outhouse," but it sure felt like it.
And when the Indians fell behind 5-0 early, it felt like there was no end to this freefall. It felt like August a year ago, when the Indians went from a team that was in a position to contend to one that had the fifth overall pick in this year's draft. That's how this six-game losing streak felt. And when the Angels, a team that had been stumbling themselves coming into this series themselves, knocked out Justin Masterson early, and when the Tribe offense couldn't touch Jerome Williams (of all pitchers) through five innings, all hope seemed to be gone. The Indians would go out onto a 9-game road trip, and they'd return from a team looking towards next year. Asdrubal Cabrera, who had made yet another error, had been ejected earlier in the game, and you could see frustration on every player's face.
Well, that contention-erasing road trip still might happen, but at the very least they'll start it on a happy note. For with two outs in the sixth inning, Michael Bourn hit a two-out single. That single was just the second hit of the game. Then Nick Swisher hit a home run. Then Jason Kipnis walked. Then Mike Aviles, who was only in the lineup because Cabrera had been tossed, went deep to make it a 5-4 game.
Then again, the Indians seem to have spent the entire homestand down a run. So they would make it interesting only to miss out on the key hit, right? Wrong. Carlos Santana led off the bottom of the seventh with a game-tying home run, and later in the inning Michael Bourn delivered the go-ahead hit, an opposite-field single that score Lonnie Chisenhall (who had reached on a walk) from second.
OK. But the bullpen would blow the game? Didn't happen. Joe Smith and Chris Perez both pitched scoreless innings, and finally the Indians won a game. The win won't get back all those games lost in the standings, but I think from a mental perspective the win did wonders. They'll need to make up ground on this upcoming road trip for this win to really mean anything, but at least for one day everyone's spirits are content.
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