September 22, 2013
Erik Bedard, who at this point in his career is trying to get by with by junkballing, stymied the Indians the first time through the lineup. It seemed to me that he had tweaked his delivery slightly, and perhaps the Indians were having trouble picking up the baseball. But once the hitters figured him out, it was just a matter of time.
The trouble wasn't whether the Indians would score any runs off Bedard, it was whether Corey Kluber could keep them in the game. He gave up several hard-hit balls in the first couple innings, including a moonshot homer off the bat of Chris Carter. And in the fourth inning, the Astros loaded the bases with nobody out, and threatened to put 2-3 more runs on the board. But Kluber to his credit made a couple of nice pitches, inducing a double play from LGFT Trevor Crowe and striking out T.J. Hoes to end the inning.
It was in the bottom of the fourth that the Tribe offense broke though, making the fourth the pivotal point in the game. Jason Kipnis saw through Bedard's pattern of staying outside, and lined a single the other way. Then Carlos Santana split the gap in right-center to plate Kipnis from first. And Michael Brantley didn't let Bedard off the hook, as lined a two-out single up the middle to tie the game, then Mike Aviles followed with another RBI single to give the Indians the lead. On Aviles' single, Asdrubal Cabrera made a great slide (on the advice of on-deck batter Michael Bourn), taking the inside route to the plate and touching home with his right hand (see the photo above).
Kluber retired Jose Altuve to start the sixth, and then Terry Francona played matchup baseball. Scrabble came on to face Marc Krauss, but Krauss doubled down the left field line. That was it for Scrabble, as Bryan Shaw came in to face (and retire) Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez to end the threat.
The Indians broke the game open in the sixth when Michael Brantley came through with yet another RBI single, ending Bedard's day. Phillip Humber, who was the guy who started the Indians' 19-6 shellacking of the Astros back in April. And the Tribe batters picked up where they left off, scoring three more runs in the inning, with Michael Bourn's two-run triple the big blow in the inning.
After that Francona got some little-used relievers (Clay Rapada, CC Lee, Carlos Carrasco) some work, and the Indians cruised to yet another four-game sweep. With the victory, the Indians finished up 2013 with an amazing 25-8 record against the AL West. More importantly, they kept pace with Tampa Bay, and thanks to Kansas City's walkoff grand slam, they are now 1.5 games ahead of Texas, including a game in the loss column. Now, if they win out, they will make the playoffs no matter what Texas does. That the Indians now control their path to the playoffs is quite an amazing feat given where they were at the beginning of September. They are now 1 game ahead of what I thought to be an optimistic pace to win 90 games.
AL Games of Interest
- Kansas City (-3.5) 4, Texas (-1.5) 0 - Final
- Tampa Bay (+0.5) 3, Baltimore (-4.5) 0 - Final
- San Francisco 2, New York (-4.0) 1 - Final
American League Wild Card Standings
Roll Call: 38 Commenters
|3||Mr. Bad Example||36|
|5||Denver Tribe Fan||34|