September 25, 2013
The White Sox did get an early lead when Avisail Garcia took Danny Salazar deep in the second inning, but after that it was all Cleveland. The Indians took back the lead in the bottom of the second thanks to some shoddy Chicago defense. With a runner on first base, Lonnie Chisenhall hit into what looked like would be an inning-ending double play, but Alexei Ramirez dropped the ball on the transfer, and Chisenhall reached safely. A wild pitch got Chisenhall to second, and then Drew Stubbs' sharp grounder ate up third baseman Marcus Semien. Chisenhall scored, and Stubbs went to second on the throw. Then Michael Brantley, who is completely locked in, served a single into center field as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do, and the Indians had their first lead of the night.
Salazar took it from there. He shrugged off the Garcia home run and pitched very well into the sixth inning. Danny is not a finished product at this point, but you can the beginnings of a lethal arsenal. If he can start utilizing that changeup more often, if anything his strikeout numbers could go up. But as it is, he can still get major-league hitters out with just his raw stuff.
Nick Swisher gave the Indians a more comfortable lead when he hammered a two-run homer over the center field fence off White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod. Swisher is one of several Indians that has come back from an awful August to have an excellent September, and the surge has helped to make the Indians a more well-round club. They're going to have to score against good pitching if they end up making the playoffs, and Swisher is going to be a key part of any offensive attack.
The White Sox and Indians traded runs in the sixth inning, and then the Tribe broke the game open in the seventh inning. Yan Gomes struck out with runners on first and third, but Asdrubal Cabrera picked him, hitting a two-out, two-run single (Matt Carson had stole second on the Gomes strikeout). That ensured that the ninth inning wouldn't involve Chris Perez, and also allowed Terry Francona to bring Justin Masterson into the game. The 30,000+ fans at the home finale gave Masterson a standing ovation as he came into the game, and Masterson didn't disappoint them, striking out two batters and only allowing a broken-bat single. Masterson's slider was unhittable, and his sinker was darting all over the place. The only problem right now seems to be length, and because of that, he'll likely be used in the bullpen, though in what role remains to be seen.
The crowd was fantastic again tonight, although the signs of life were there earlier in the home stand. Even the crowd on Thursday night, while small, was into the game, and with each victory, the crowd got a little bigger. After last night, the tipping point seemed to have been reached, and virtually every good seat had a fan in it as the Indians finished off a 6-0 homestand, and an amazing 17-2 record against the White Sox.
The Indians needed that perfect record, as the Rays and the Rangers both won again tonight. Although the Royals are still technically in the race (they won't be eliminated unless they lose), it's now a three-team race with four games to play. That 90 win goal that I've been trumpeting since the beginning of the month? It won't be enough unless the Rangers split their series with the Angels. But thankfully the Indians can get to 91 or even 92 wins with a good weekend in Minnesota, and right now they're playing like a team that can pull it off.
AL Games of Interest
- Tampa Bay (+1.0) 8, New York* (-6.0) 3 - Final
- Texas (-1.0) 7, Houston 3 - Final
- Detroit** (+4.5) 1, Minnesota 0
- Seattle 3, Kansas City*** (-4.5) 0 - 6th inning
*New York eliminated from Wild Card race
**Detroit clinches AL Central
***Kansas City eliminated from Wild Card race with loss
American League Wild Card Standings
Roll Call: 60 Commenters
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