August 8, 2013
Through the first three games, at least you could say that the Indians were in each game. They should have won the first game if not for Chris Perez's implosion, and had multiple opportunities to win last night. Tonight, though, was a complete blowout.
Zach McAllister just didn't have it. Everything was up in the zone, or out of the zone, and you immediately start thinking about his finger, the one that caused him to miss 7 weeks earlier this season. Neither pitcher nor manager seemed to be concerned about the finger after the game, so maybe it was just mechanical. Regardless, the game was essentially over by the time he left the game, and he left in the third inning.
Unfortunately McAllister picked a really bad time to have a bad outing. Not only was it the final game of the series against the Tigers, but the Tribe pitchers had to throw 14 innings the night before. Preston Guilmet was up from Columbus in case this type of thing happened, though, and he was called upon to soak up some innings. Guilmet was in the midst of a fine AAA campaign, with both outstanding results and peripherals in his first season in Colunbus. But those AAA results didn't carry over into the majors, as he was pounded about as hard as McAllister was. Guilmet stuck around to get through the fifth inning, but by that the time the Tigers had turned a 5-0 lead into a 10-0 laugher.
After that, the two teams went through the formality of finishing the game. Max Scherzer left after seven innings, having allowed two runs on four hits. Meanwhile Matt Albers pitched the sixth and the seventh innings, and Scrabble pitched the eighth. That left the ninth, and Francona, rather than go to one of his back-end guys, ended the series on a rather appropriate note. He sent Ryan Raburn into the game to pitch. And Raburn did an admirable job, retiring the Tigers in order, and even getting a strikeout. The last time and Indians position player had pitched was in 2009, when LGT cult favorite Andy Marte pitched an inning against the New York Yankees*. I think the opposing club tends to take it easy on a position player, not wanting to run up the score, but Raburn was getting the ball up there, touching the high 80s on his fastball.
But even with that late levity, the series that had begun with so much hope and promise ended in a flaming wreck. It was an opportunity to at the very least keep themselves in the division race, and also keep the interest of a fanbase that has exercised a wait-and-see method of commitment to the club. Even after dropping all four games, the Indians are still 9 games above .500 and 3 games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot. But the division race is over, and with it the easy route to the postseason. Now for the Indians to play in October, they'll be fighting with the Rangers or A's, the Orioles, and the Royals to get into a one-game playoff just to make the ALDS.
*Marte also recorded a strikeout in his inning of work. The unlucky victim? Nick Swisher.
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